MADE for U of T | Ep. 01 | Prof. Hatzopoulou

Related people and/or projects: Introducing M.A.D.E. for U of T

In this first episode of MADE for U of T, we hear from professor Marianne Hatzopoulou and her experience pivoting to a virtual video shoot. Her top tips include writing a script, setting up your space, and the value of tip sheets.

Listen to the podcast: Pivoting to remote recording with Prof. Marianne Hatzopoulou


Or read the transcript:

Prefer to read rather than listen to the podcast? Below is a transcript of the interview.  It has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Marianne Hatzopoulou (MH): Thank you yeah.  I am Marianne Hatzopoulou and I'm a professor in civil and mineral engineering.  I do, as Inga said, a lot of research on transportation, climate change, air quality.  A lot of relevant topics nowadays and a lot for me because that kind of research has been in the media and it's always a challenge, I think, for us, professors to just go out there and put ourselves out there and our information out there.  I've been in a lot of these kind of situations lately and learned a lot.  For this specific project, a group of colleagues and I got a grant for an e-learning grant from the government of Ontario.  And essentially, we got some money to develop an online course that has multiple modules so I was responsible for the module on transport and sustainability.  It was essentially a mishmash of developing content that was in a storybook format: videos, questions, quizzes; all very new things to me,  not in terms of content, but in terms of delivery.  It was challenging me to rethink my content under these different delivery mechanisms.

Inga Breede (IB): We were going to meet with each of the instructors of the project to do a short intro video for each of their modules and I was able to meet with a few of them before the holidays, but then, with everything going on in the world, we had to pivot to a virtual recording instead.  My first question to you, Marianne, is what did you know about self- capturing at home before doing our virtual shoot? What did you know about equipment, did you already have software and what did you even know about shooting at home?

MH: Very, very little.  All I had done before was self-capture using Zoom to do my lectures and that was about it.  I knew very little about the importance of the camera, the importance of the microphone, the importance of the light in your house, the importance of your background and what you're displaying your background so quick answer is, I knew very little.

IB: Can you walk us through a bit on how you prepared for our virtual recording?

MH:  A lot of preparation.  The other thing that I wanted to add to the first question is, I knew very little and I had no interest in knowing more.  I really counted on Inga  and her tip sheets and I want to stress on that later on in this interview and the information I got from her to figure out what to do, because that's what I didn't know. This is not my job and I didn't want to figure it out, I just wanted somebody who knew this and who would tell me what I needed to do.  So I think in terms of preparation, there are two really big things:  there's content and there's delivery. 

As a professor you know your content, but I think different media of delivery will dictate that the content be curated in different ways. So I think for the video, that really challenged me in, first of all, having to write a script.  That's something I did not know.  You know you can’t kind do it like this interview, sit and talk, because every time you repeat it it's going to sound differently and that's not how you prepare.  So I worked a lot on a script that was very concise, straight to the point, had short sentences, had transitions between ideas.  And the visuals as well, I think, in our case, we had also a slide deck and so the visuals had to go in line with my script.

Another thing I learned is this is not like giving a PowerPoint presentation to a class.  Because the way the visuals are going to appear when you're saying your script is out of your control it's the person who's  doing it who's going to control that and so that's  something I worked a lot; on developing my slides and developing my script. I think in terms of delivery, there are a lot of things to prepare for. I found a spot in the home, you know angle, you talked about that.  I think you know the few things that I just knew is that yeah, you have to have good light and natural light is better. And maybe you don't want to portray some original pieces of art, that you know there's intellectual property related to that. 

But there was a lot more to that.  To me it was also consider that this is a video that's going to go public.  And shooting at home is very challenging because all of the spaces are your private spaces.  How do you create a generic background that doesn't show anything that you don't want the public to even know about you? What’s your taste in pictures or in furniture or in books or anything like that, because this is for public consumption, so that that was quite challenging to do that.  I think the microphone and camera which I had and I never bothered using them because I didn't know they were valuable and that the quality of the camera mattered.  And so, those were things also I had to prepare ahead of time and again the delivery.  Rehearsing my script multiple times to really kind of start feeling comfortable again.  I really didn't know how much it matters and I realized, now that I saw the end product, it matters a lot.

IB: And you make a good point how'd you get the viewer to get to know who you are, but like they don't need to get to know you too well.  What part what aspect of the recording process surprised you and, if anything, did why?

MH:  I think the biggest surprise that it doesn't all happen in one shot.  I actually didn't know that until the day we were recording, even though I think that you had mentioned that beforehand.  You don’t have to say the whole script and if you make a mistake, you don’t have to repeat the whole script. When we were shooting, you were getting me to say bits and pieces here in and there, Repeat this line, repeat this slide, and they were very, very short.  It wasn't that daunting to deliver something very short.  When I saw the end product, it comes all together, and so that was a big discovery, for me, I think the part where you know you don't have to be live in one shot.

IB: I say this every time and in each of these sessions, that the beauty of this is that it's not live.  You can do as many takes and no one will ever know that it was Take 30.  Tt looks like it was one seamless recording.  So, having had this experience, what tip you would give to a fellow instructor before they do self-capturing or a virtual recording session or if they're presenting with their students on Zoom or Teams.

MH: I certainly would say practice your content.  I think that's super important as an instructor, it is really important to practice how you're going to deliver it.  But practice also putting it together, putting together the script that is very efficient and straight to the point. And rehearse it multiple times, because it really is not like a lecture.  It's not like you're standing in front of a PowerPoint and pointing to things, it really has to go together.  The other thing is, I would say count on the tip sheets that you get from Inga because those were very valuable.  Like I said from the beginning, I didn't know much.  And I had no interest.  It's not my job, I just want to know the phone number of somebody who knows all of that stuff.  And I want them to tell me exactly what I need to do, and what I need to prepare.  There's no way you could anticipate all those things if you don't have those tip sheets and I think there were multiple ones that you had sent.  That I wouldn't necessarily read on the fly, but I would find them and whenever I want to prepare read them and they were very useful.

IB: And thank you, I don't want to take credit, this is an EdTech way of doing things; providing enough information so that you can do it.  But I’m glad that they were helpful. Thank you for taking the time today to meet with the M.A.D.E. community and for your honesty and insight on the experience of doing a virtual shoot.  And thanks to everyone for coming out, we'll see you all on Teams and in our next meeting!


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Article Category: M.A.D.E. Podcast