A well-made video can be a powerful tool for teaching and learning:

    • Instructor-made videos can help online students feel more like they are attending class face-to-face.
    • By presenting information differently than textbooks, videos can add information or reflection that the text does not.
    • Videos can give students more control of their learning by allowing them to watch at their own pace, pause if they need a break, and rewatch for review.

Pan et al. (2012) found that students responded favorably to instructor-created videos and thought the videos supported their learning.

Reasons to Make a Video

  • To welcome. A welcome video helps students get to know you and better understand what to expect. When you make a welcome video, feel free to share your hobbies, photos of your pets, and your background. Don’t worry too much about speaking slowly; focus on conveying enthusiasm. Students can pause and replay if they need to. Your welcome video — like all your videos — should be brief.
  • To show, not tell. Consider using video to show a demonstration or experiment. Break away from the standard lecture video by conducting an experiment or demonstration on camera. This allows viewers to learn while watching, rather than listen to an explanation. Another option: Conduct an interview, perhaps with an expert in the field.
  • To interact. Use the video quiz tool in Media Space to create an engaging video that requires participation through embedded questions. This allows students to interact with the content and helps them gauge their knowledge of the material.

Production Tips to Stay Engaging

  • Plan before production. To make a brief but compelling video, you’ll have to do some planning. Write a script with the information you would like to share, and practice in the mirror. This will give you an idea of how long your video will be and what information may not be necessary. Outline the flow of your video, especially if you’ll include more than one visual.
  • Keep it short. While an hour-long lecture might work in a face-to-face classroom, a recording of the same lecture is not likely to keep students engaged online. Engagement time drops as video length increases. Students are more likely to watch short videos in their entirety. Guo et al. (2014) found that six minutes or less is ideal.
  • Don’t give your in-person lecture. Instead, if your video is expected to be long, find natural breaking points in your script where you can cut it into multiple videos. Each video will be a subtopic. This concept is called “chunking” — cutting large amounts of information into smaller pieces, making it easier for the viewer to process.
  • State your objectives. Tell your audience why they should keep watching. Within the first 10 seconds, viewers should know what they will get out of watching the video. Consider an outcome statement or a summary of the topics you’ll cover.
  • Remember cognitive load theory. Mayer and Moreno (2003) found that working memory can hold only five to nine items at a time. Avoid overloading with activities and information that don’t contribute to learning. Eliminate tangential or extraneous elements to keep the video concise and coherent.

Getting Started

Now that you’ve read through these tips, it’s time to follow a plan.

  • Identify the purpose of your video and align it with your instructional goals.
  • Write a script — and practice reading it.
  • Create an outline of the video, and decide on any visuals.
  • If you plan to use OAI’s Media Labs, schedule your recording in advance.
  • After recording your video, review it to make sure it meets your instructional goals. Don’t be afraid to re-record.

Guo, P., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. Proceedings of the first ACM conference on learning, 41-50.

Mayer, R. & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43–52.

Pan, G., et al. (2012). Instructor-made videos as a learner scaffolding tool. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 8(4).