Creating multimedia learning resources: handwriting or digital annotation

In Section 3.7 of the York TEL Handbook we discuss the strengths of supporting learning through the use of multimedia resources. Such resources are used to deliver core content for flipped classroom learning approaches and can be used to supplement traditional lectures or workshops with targeted worked problems. Video has particular strengths over text too. Sometimes it’s clearer to show a diagram than just describe it, or hand-write mathematical notation when walking students through a derivation. In this blog post I show how easy it is to create such resources using the equipment that is provided in a number of teaching rooms on campus or at your desk.

Using Smart Podiums (touch screens) to record digital annotation

A number of rooms on campus are equipped with Smart Podiums. These have the same technology as Smart Boards, in that you can use the stylus to draw upon the screen digitally. This is great for sketching graphs, drawing visual explanations, molecular models or filling in templates. As the annotations appear on screen, these can be captured using screen recording (screencasting) software.

Some teaching rooms are also equipped with Replay software that allows you to make screencasts. You’ll need to request a publishing space for your recordings to be uploaded into first, but once you’ve done that you can use the rooms when they are free or book the room to make your recordings. Check the Replay Room List for ‘Ad-Hoc’ and ‘Personal Capture’. Then follow the guides for using Personal Capture.

In rooms with Smart Podiums but without Replay, you could try using (see our comparison of screencasting software). Recordings can then be viewed online via, or you could download the mp4 and upload this securely into Replay.

The video below shows you how to use the Smart Podium for digital annotation.

Recording hand-written content using a webcam

Set up a webcam at your desk to make recordings of hand-written content using Replay Personal Capture. Clip the webcam so that it is angled facing straight down onto a desk with a plain piece of A4 or A3 paper below. You could use a desk lamp to hold the camera. Light the surface using the desk lamp, making sure wires and the webcam aren’t close to any hot bulbs. It’s worth noting that cheaper webcams have a ‘fall off’ at the edges of the frame where the focus isn’t as sharp as in the middle. Therefore, ensure your key points remain centred on the screen at all times.

Online intervention

This detailed E-Learning Walkthrough explores how the lecture can be supported by creating video screencasts to address topics that students found difficult or to provide additional content to extend the lecture themes.

E-Learning Walkthrough


Expanding the Lecture with Screencasts
Online Intervention Example

When creating multimedia resources, you will need to pro-actively address accessibility for disabled students, see Section 3.7 of the York TEL Handbook or contact us for further advice.

Capturing hand-written content in class

If you are not creating learning resources in advance, you can still capture hand-written content in class using either Smart Podiums or visualisers. Visualisers (also known as document cameras) are available in larger lecture rooms on campus. You can use visualisers to present printed content on a big screen, highlight material on paper or using blank pieces of paper as a whiteboard. As the visualisers are video cameras, you can also present small models and objects.

Photo showing a visualiser on a lectern with an inset image of what is presented on the projection screen

Using a visualiser in a teaching room

Visualisers can only be recorded during a Timetabled Lecture Capture session, so if you want to use the visualiser to create a learning resource outside of a normal teaching session you will need to book the room and request Replay. You will then be able to edit down your recording to the specific part you used the visualiser. Rooms equipped with both Timetabled Lecture Capture and a visualiser are indicated on the Replay Room List.

The video below walks through the way the visualiser could be used within lectures.

Advice for designing and creating multimedia learning resources

I’ve compiled a list of my top tips for designing and creating multimedia learning resources. Most of these apply as equally to hand-written and digital annotation recordings as traditional narrated slides or screencasts. In particular, the advice about delivering a pre-recorded lecture is worth reading through carefully. Always emphasise what students will gain from the resource, take your time delivering the content, and remain focused.

If you need technical support or pedagogical advice, please feel free to contact us at

Share your practice and ideas

Whether you are thinking of recording hand-written content in or out of class, or are already creating such resources and can provide your tips for colleagues, post your thoughts below or tweet with #YorkTELchat

One response to “Creating multimedia learning resources: handwriting or digital annotation

  1. Pingback: Replay+ Camera Pilot – Summer Term 2016 | E-Learning Development Team·

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