One of the things that I really didn’t anticipate happening in these parlous times is becoming a YouTube star.
Granted, this is for certain values of "star" that don't include any actual stardom, but still.
All of the various campuses that I report to are long closed now – if nothing else, education makes you much more ready to accept reality than politics does, which is why campuses are closed and far too many states (all of them with GOP governors, strangely enough) think they can stay open in the middle of a plague and suffer no consequences. I expect that lesson to be learned in fairly short order, and then I expect that blame will be apportioned to everyone except those responsible because that does fit the pattern of late.
But the bottom line is that there are no classes being held in person anymore on any campus that might ask me to offer one.
This is a problem when so much of my job is meeting groups in person. But I am lucky enough to have a job that can be moved largely online, so this is me not complaining.
I was scheduled to give a guest lecture for my friend’s Anthropology course this coming week. The class is “Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft,” and for the last five years or so I’ve come in to discuss witchcraft in America – everything from Salem and the Witch of Ridley Creek in the 17th century to Hermione Granger and The Witches of Waverly Place here in the 21st – and it is something I always look forward to doing. This was especially true this year, since my friend announced his retirement before everything fell apart so this was my last chance to give that talk.
We’ve moved everything online now, and normally recording lectures in Canvas is pretty easy – for all that Canvas sucks stagnant swamp water as a system in general, there are a few things it gets right. For my compressed video class, for example, I always record lectures because I’m teaching students at several different small high schools as basically their APUSH substitute, and depending on how you count I’m working through up to five different calendars so the odds of someone having to miss a class now and then are pretty high. Canvas integrates pretty well with Kaltura, which means I can record and upload things myself rather than relying on the increasingly stretched thin IT department to do it for me. Getting them to upload can be a bit of a chore - I've been waiting for about two and a half hours for one to upload today, with another right behind it that hasn't even registered yet, but hey - Canvas.
I spent a good chunk of today recording a couple of lectures for next week’s resumption of that compressed video class, since this way we don’t have to worry about having enough streaming bandwidth for every student to check in live, nor do we have to worry about siblings or parents who need the computer right then. They can just watch things as they get to them.
This won’t work for the Anthro class, though, since it’s not my Canvas site and for some reason when I send a link to someone else it doesn’t show my computer desktop – just me. This is a problem when there are images to display. It would probably work in my Canvas site. Just not my friend’s.
I discovered that if I used Zoom to start a meeting that nobody else was invited to, I could record myself plus my computer screen and save it as a file. This could then be uploaded to YouTube, which of course required me to set up a YouTube account and wasn’t I a historian a few weeks ago instead of a media tech? I do have memories about that. But even so.
I got the recording made and even managed to get it uploaded. I sent the link to my friend to see if he could get it to work but so far I haven’t heard back from him. We’ll see.
I’ve got one more lecture to record for the compressed video class and then I’m done for the week with that one – all that will be left is grading things as they come in and trying to reformat my upcoming exam into some assignment they can do at home.
Three of my five classes this semester were already fully online, though, so they’re just chugging along as normal.
Here I am, Yr. Hmbl. Srvt. – Video Star.