You may ask yourself, ‘How should I do videos?’ The answer is, ‘it depends’. It depends on your learning objectives, your content, your activities, and your students. If you want your students to be able to do something that someone can demonstrate, then video would be the best option. If your content involves specific places or cultures, video can help to make them real to your students in ways that pictures and words on a page cannot. If parts of your content are especially challenging to your students, walking through these rough points with diagrams or a virtual whiteboard can provide clarification. If your students have difficulty engaging with the content, videos can offer a more approachable way in.
A Video Example
The following is an example of an engaging video to begin a section. IU Media Arts and Sciences lecturer Mathew A. Powers collaborated with author John Green and his production company and School of Informatics alumni to develop this video on the history of games. The video is part of a larger series stemming from his class History of Video Games course (Inside IU article).
Considerations for Video
You have options to use video like the one above, developed by others and repurposed in your course, or to make your own videos. The following are considerations for using “found” video and the following page discusses considerations for making your own videos.
How well does the video align with your class? Is it something that will directly help students reach a learning outcome or is interesting but not directly applicable. If it’s not supporting a learning outcome but you still want to include it, placing it in an “Additional Resources” or “If You’d Like to Know More” section. Traditional-aged students are more likely to explore additional video resources than additional readings. If only part of the video is applicable it is good to let the students know that they should only focus on a particular section.
Just like any other content, you need to consider if the video is at the right level for your students. Do they have the prerequisite background knowledge to get out what you want them to get out of it? Students will tune out it they don’t understand what the speaker is talking about – especially if they use jargon, acronyms, and other technical terms the student doesn’t know. Canvas Studio is the recommended tool for all videos and allows captions to automatically be produced for every video. If you have a student who needs accommodation they will work with your campus’s disability services office for captioning and/or audio description of third party video.
If the video you would like to use is from your textbook publisher (for example, from an instructor’s resource DVD that one might show in class), ask your publisher representative for permission to put sections of the video online. Normally publishers do not have an issue since it will be behind the walls of Canvas and your students are purchasing their book. However, if you change textbooks, don’t presume that you still have permission to continue to use the video.
What makes videos engaging?
Once you’ve found videos that could be useful for your class, how do you evaluate which ones are good and which ones are less so? They don’t need to be TED Talks or Kahn Academy videos to be effective and engaging but if your students can’t understand the speakers, see what’s going on clearly, or are constantly distracted by poor production quality they may not get the information they need.
Reviewing Videos: Release your inner movie critic
Go to YouTube and find a mix of videos on your course topic. Searching for channels that aggregate videos from multiple sources like this one on Developmental Psychology or this one on Inorganic Chemistry, is an easy way to find a variety. Watch several videos taking the perspective of a student and think about the following questions:
- What elements of the video engaged you with the video content?
- Audio elements?
- Visual elements?
- Speaker presentation elements?
- Video production elements?
Reviewing other’s videos is a good way to understand what works and doesn’t work to keep a viewer’s attention and aid in understanding in ways a textbook cannot.
Recommendations for Video Use
These recommendations apply to videos you make as much as they do to videos you find.
- Speaker enthusiasm helps maintain interest. Vary voice volume so it’s not monotone. Be confident!
- Keep your videos as short as possible. 6-8 minutes is optimum but they could go up to around 15 minutes in length.
- A quick pace is good but not so quick that the student can’t follow (especially important when the presenter has a strong accent).
- Showing is better than telling when possible, use visual aids and make sure your lighting is good so they can be clearly seen.
- Minimize distractions such as other people, unrelated or confusing visuals, and noises such as mouse clicks, fans, etc.
- Avoid zooming, switching between cameras, and other camera movements as they can make some people “seasick.”
- Talk to the camera, not the lectern or the computer.
- Avoid video that doesn’t go beyond the textbook. Reading slides (especially with lists of bullet points) is not helpful or engaging.
- Curate your digital course content (written and video) vs creating everything from scratch. Use what is out there! There are so many great content repositories out there, most of which are free to use under Fair Use/Copyright Law. https://ifd.vanguard.edu/resources/exploring-new-content-sources/
The bottom line is, does the video keep your attention? If you were dozing or multitasking while the video was playing the odds are good your students will be also.
The content found here was designed by Indiana University and adapted for use by the Institute for Faculty Development at Vanguard University. This material is offered under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license and should be considered under this license unless otherwise noted. The original content was imported from “Designing and Teaching for Impact in Online Courses” from within Canvas Commons.