What should a first-time instructor invest in: audio or video?

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What should a first-time instructor invest in: audio or video?

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A common question from new instructor is: "Should I invest in a decent microphone. Or, a decent camera when getting started?"


The answer is actually quite simple. Which do you consider to be the most effective way of delivering your course content?


Or, "Is audio quality more important than video quality?"


When we ask the question like this, then the answer has to be Microphone first, fancy camera second. Now don't get me wrong,  a lot of the successful courses I have watched are stunning to look at. The graphics were crisp. The transitions are elegant. And  boy, that stock photography must have cost a fortune!


But above all, the audio was clear. NO echo and No muffled sound and they are well articulated. Plus, minimal distractions like music etc.


I often watch courses that need me to follow along as I learn. This  means that I am not actually looking at the video 100% of the time. Instead, I am listening. Trying things on my own. And following the instructions through sound.


Think about someone showing you, how to do something in the physical world. They are most likely talking you through the process as they show you. The visuals in this case are the results that occur as a result of the instructors actions. Not the instructors face on a screen, right? When it is your turn to 'have a go', a good instructor will still be talking you through the process. By hearing, doing and evaluating your results, you learn.


Audio plays an important part in conveying information. It should be easy to think about your lectures like a podcast. Imagine that you are trying to help someone achieve a goal over the phone! Be explicit in your instructions. Be clear and concise with your directions. Be empathetic and understanding of the challenges your audience are likely facing. Talk like every word matters and treat the visuals like supporting materials.


Your audience will be more likely to forgive a blurry image if your audio is good quality. Invest time into the visuals, after you have the audio nailed. And be sure to do your best to remove any ambient sounds in your environment.


You can even try recording your audio separately as a voice-over. If possible in a controlled setting. This approach allows you to work on your video during the day and the audio at night. Especially useful if you are short on time and can only dedicate small timeslots.


My final piece of advice is to get 'up close and personal'. With the aid of a pop filter you can get very close to your mic without the audio capturing every little breath. By being closer to your mic, you can lower the gain and reduce nearly all background noise. Now, granted this can be hard when you 'have' to be on camera, but in that scenario, you should use a good quality lapel-mic.


Do you agree?

What do you think first-time instructors should invest in: audio or video?

Leave your thoughts and comments below.

Warm regards, Rob.


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Instructions should be clear and concise and every one can understood.

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While both are a must to have, I guess audio has an edge over video. You don't want a crappy mic to make students switch off learning. Even when you have a self explanatory pix, you still need some clear guidance in voice to do its thing. 

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Audio is more important. If your camera sucks, you can always make the image smaller and move it to a corner of a powerpoint or so, which is what we did for a long time to hide the poor quality. But if the audio sucks, you can't hide it. Audio is king. 

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Hello @Robin_Slee,

Thank you for your insightful thoughts. We wholeheartedly agree with your perspective. As an AI training and development organization, we've found that audio quality often takes precedence over video in online learning.


Why? Because clear, crisp audio is a non-negotiable aspect of effective instruction. No matter how visually compelling the course content is, if the audio quality is poor, it hampers comprehension and detracts from the overall learning experience. On the other hand, we've observed that students are more forgiving of less-than-perfect video quality if the audio is top-notch and the content is valuable.


Of course, this isn't to downplay the importance of good video. Clear visuals, especially for courses that are highly demonstrative in nature, can make or break the learning experience. But, if we're discussing initial investments, we would suggest that first-time instructors prioritize audio.


A few potential ways to optimize sound quality without breaking the bank could be:

  1. Investing in a high-quality USB microphone and a pop filter.
  2. Recording in a quiet and echo-free space, perhaps with some sound-absorbing materials.
  3. Using sound editing software to filter out background noise and enhance clarity.

As they grow in their journey, instructors can then look to gradually upgrade their video recording setup.


I would also suggest first-time instructors to leverage the myriad of resources Udemy provides to guide instructors on technical setup. There are great insights available on cost-effective setups for recording both audio and video.


So, in short, our answer would be to invest in audio first. But remember, it's not an either-or decision but more of a staged investment strategy based on budget and course requirements.


Looking forward to hearing more insights from the community!


Best regards,


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Audio and video solutions
Figure out how to create the best audio and visual set-up for your price point and skill level. This is a great place to chat about different mics, green screens, video editing software, and more.