Last Revised 06/29/21 by SW
Videos are gaining ground in online education as a result of their versatility in promoting learning, satisfaction, engagement, and interest (LSEI; Costley & Lange, 2017). With this fast-growing dependence on videos, online educators need to become mindful of what constitutes quality videos and how they are best integrated into online content delivery and interaction. In this article, we will approach the topic as follows:
- The discussion begins with the rationale behind video use.
- We will move on to a detailed examination of the different types of video formats, in order to help you determine the kinds of videos you may adopt for your course.
- We will then focus on the best practices in video use to further prepare you for quality videos.
- Our discussion continues with some final tips on recording, production, and sharing.
- Then we will look into the common challenges an instructor might encounter when recording, producing, and using videos.
- We will land on a self-evaluation tool that can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your videos.
At the end of this article, we also included a list of special topics to help you further explore themes that have been gaining traction around the topic of educational videos.
The use of online videos has been examined extensively for its effectiveness. The following are highlights from recent studies.
- Videos are perceived to be more engaging than textual mediums, offer extra learning opportunities, and increase motivation (Evans & Cordova, 2015).
- Video content makes it easier to connect with the instructor as a real-person (Gurley, 2018).
- Videos are accessible at their own place and pace (Ramlogan et al., 2014).
- Dubbed Generation Z, most current students have an affinity to inform and educate themselves via online videos (Seemiller & Grace, 2017).
- Videos help instill teaching and social presence in the online learning community (Steele et al., 2017)
- Instructors tend to be more mindful of delivery and content selection when recording a lecture video (Dymond & Bentz, 2006).
- Many videos that are not time-sensitive are reusable (Quinn & Kennedy-Clark, 2015).
Instructors use videos for a wide range of purposes in an online course (Scagnoli et al., 2015):
- To present course content.
- To engage students in assignments and discussions.
- To update class status, informing students about current events, modifications, or current matters in course content.
- To follow up on topics discussed in face-to-face class, answer hanging questions and provide clarification, and provide feedback about student performance.
- To provide a demonstration and work extra problems.
Common Ways to Use Video
These are the most common uses of videos in online courses:
An intro video is a great place to start off the course. Spending a few minutes introducing the course and yourself is an excellent way to show your personality, humanize the online learning experience, and help build a positive relationship with your students. This kind of video is especially important for those students who are hesitant about the course or new to online learning.
A course orientation video is helpful for students to become familiar with the Learning Management System, getting to know how to access the materials, where to submit assignments or check grades, etc. Draft a list of items and take your time to cover all the items in detail. This will help minimize the support effort needed later in the course.
Content walkthrough videos are short, dedicated videos to review certain elements of the course with students. For instance, videos for the syllabus, schedule, major/complex assignments, tools (discussions, assignment submission, quizzes & tests), etc. could be beneficial as walkthrough videos. These videos are also helpful in de-stressing students so that they can focus on the content of the course. are short, dedicated videos to review certain elements of the course with students. For instance, videos for the syllabus, schedule, major/complex assignments, tools (discussions, assignment submission, quizzes & tests), etc. could be beneficial as walkthrough videos. These videos are also helpful in de-stressing students so that they can focus on the content of the course.
Module/Unit/Topic videos give you an opportunity to engage students from the beginning. Provide a quick overview of the content, your expectations, where students should pay special attention, or even some cliffhangers. These videos are simple yet powerful in showing your preparedness and make the learning experience personable.
Lectures (Most common)
Lecture videos are the most popular type and are generally what people think of when they talk about educational video content. These videos are commonly delivered by topics and arranged in a meaningful sequence in an online course. The goal of these videos is to serve as the primary source of the course content, therefore they often include outlines, visual aids, examples, and questions.
As you see from the many other examples, keep in mind that Lecture videos are but one way to effectively integrate video content into your courses.
Interviews or Guest Lecturer Presentations
Interviews and guest lecturer videos can provide a healthy variation to the scheduled lecture videos primarily delivered by the instructor.
Experiential learning videos can take your students out of the typical classroom lecture environment into realistic experiences through the lens of the instructor. These videos allow a higher level of flexibility regarding locations and tools used for recording but can be substantial in building instructor presence and encouraging engagement.
Another new type of video that has gained popularity in engaging viewers is 360 videos. Such videos can be viewed either directly on the hosting platform (aided by a mouse/trackpad), or through VR goggles for a more immersive experience. The 360 camera, when properly set up, captures everything happening around it, making it ideal for recording field trips, museum tours, medical procedures, laboratory experiments, sporting events, etc. CETL’s Educational Technology Department has 360 video cameras available for short-term loans to faculty or staff.
Student Created Content
Student-created videos are another great strategy to engage students. Consider encouraging students to create introduction videos or even respond to other students’ discussion posts using videos. This format will help break the ice and promote student-to-student interaction.
Regardless of how videos are recorded or produced (in a multimedia classroom, a studio with professional equipment, your home with your personal computer), we suggest that instructors should consider the following steps to prepare video lectures:
- Use your learning objectives to identify topics.
- Further identify concepts associated with the topic.
- Consider how to connect the concepts to students’ prior knowledge.
- Organize the concepts in a logical sequence.
- Prepare content & activities.
- Consider using videos as part of an assignment to increase viewing.
- For slightly longer videos, consider further organizing concepts into meaningful segments and integrate formative assessments.
- Begin with a brief overview of the topic(s) that piques interest.
- Present key concepts.
- Close with a summary of what was covered in the video.
- Insert in-video activities with editing tools or build comprehension checks/Q&A forums in HuskyCT.
Plan & Prepare
The plan and prepare phase lays the foundation for effective and engaging videos. If you are experienced in making videos and have an easy time talking in front of cameras, you may not need to follow every single step, but the steps below will be helpful if you are still new to this practice or want to prime your video-making skills.
- Select materials that are authentic, current, and relatable to students. Even for courses heavy in technical knowledge, it is helpful to anchor the lecture in realistic scenarios to engage students.
- Drafting a script or outline will help you stay focused on your selected content. It also allows more time to think of a cogent structure, word choice, tone, and build-in cognitive checks. Another valued advantage of scripting is that it helps reduce the stress of recording. Below are a few tips on preparing a script:
- KEEP IT SHORT! Most of your videos should be about 7-10 minutes long. For longer videos, consider integrating in-video quiz questions to allow for reflection.
- Keep your lesson objectives in mind when structuring your content. It is also helpful to explicitly state the objective associated with the video at the beginning to help students better understand the scope of the video.
- Design intentional cognitive checks by embedding pauses, questions, discussions, or authentic case studies to give students the opportunity to reflect on the preceding content.
- Select purposeful visual aids. Avoid using too many decorative visuals that may distract students and necessitate additional accessibility considerations.
- Be mindful of accessibility requirements, such as making sure to adequately describe the visuals included in your video.
- Include a brief summary at the end of the video, highlighting a few takeaway points.
- Practicing can be valuable especially when the video is longer or involves complex reasoning. It can be done either through a quick mental rehearsal or a more involved practice session with the camera rolling. Review your practice video from a student’s perspective and evaluate if it flows smoothly, the transitions from one idea to the next make sense, the visual aids are explained, and the content stays on track and aligns with the objectives.
For high-stake videos (e.g. videos about crucial concepts or topics, or those you plan to reuse for a long period of time), you may also consider having a family member or colleague review them. An extra pair of eyes will give you a different perspective.
A video can be recorded wherever and whenever as long as a camera is accessible, such as on a webcam, digital camera, even your phone or iPad. The majority of educational videos are recorded in indoor environments and there are many ways to set up your recording space based on the kind of videos and available tools.
CETL recommends Kaltura as the primary tool to record and share videos for many reasons:
- It is fairly easy to use for both instructors and students.
- It can host videos recorded (or downloaded) on different devices.
- It is locally supported by ITS and CETL's Educational Technology Department.
- It has high accessibility capabilities.
- It is fully integrated with HuskyCT and provides a one-stop-shop solution to upload, view, and obtain analytics to all course videos via the Kaltura Media Gallery.
- It allows for embedded interactive video quizzes.
However, if you are comfortable with other technologies or looking to achieve specific goals for your videos, below are some additional tools we recommend, though they have limited campus support.
For the majority of videos, the basic equipment that comes with your laptop (e.g., a webcam together with a built-in mic) should be enough. External webcams, mics, and lighting equipment are also good alternatives if needed.
Optimize your Recording Space
Select a space that makes you feel at ease and is free of noise and interruptions. It is a good idea to review a short sample recording before recording an entire video in check for distracting background noises picked up by your mic like an air conditioner or ceiling fan. In most cases, a room with a closed door removed from any distractions will suffice. Refer to the ITS article Video Recording Tips for recommendations on choosing backgrounds, lighting, presence, etc.
We recommend keeping the following considerations in mind when recording videos.
- Keep it short (this may include breaking a topic up into multiple smaller videos as discussed earlier).
- Stay focused and try not to deviate too much from your script or outlines.
- Use a conversational tone and use verbal cues, emphases, and highlights to direct the students’ attention to important information.
- Use shorter sentences and speak at a faster pace.
- Be enthusiastic about the material that you are covering.
- Try your best to engage your audience.
Produce and Share
Most of the time, some basic edits are needed to polish the videos. During production, you should consider:
- segmenting longer videos into shorter ones;
- chaptering (Kaltura, YouTube, Vimeo) longer videos if segmenting is not attainable;
- trimming off the obvious errors or unwanted parts;
- preparing a transcript or captions;
- inserting any in-video activities or quizzes;
- applying any predetermined formatting or templates. (Consistency is important both within the course and across sections/courses in a program and when there is more than one presenter involved. Sharing outlines and templates ahead of time can greatly improve efficiency during the production phase.)
Once your videos are finalized, you will choose a hosting platform in order to share the videos with your audience. Even though you have the option to host your videos on public-facing platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo, we recommend hosting videos using Kaltura for similar reasons mentioned above.
Videos are often shared in either or both of the following manners.
- Individual integration within the course content (e.g. learning modules). Intuitively, videos are often presented together with other closely related course materials as part of the content delivery. This method of presentation retains the connection between the videos and the rest of the materials, thus making the most sense for students.
- Collectively organized on the front page (e.g. main course menu). You may also find value in organizing all your videos in a given sequence and presenting them in a centralized location. This method of presentation makes it easier for students to access specific content in your videos rather than going through multiple layers of course content in order to locate it.
Although HuskyCT has the capacity to host videos, we strongly recommend that you stay away from it but using other hosting platforms instead, such as Kaltura, YouTube, or Vimeo. HuskyCT imposes size limits on uploaded files and can be problematic when transferring content to future iterations of your course. In addition, HuskyCT does not have captioning capabilities as the other hosting platforms.
The benefits of captions have been extensively studied and found to be beneficial to learners of various backgrounds (Gernsbacher, 2015; Jae, 2019).
A 2016 study on captioned video yielded a few interesting findings:
- 98.6% of students who use captions say they are helpful.
- 71% of students without hearing difficulties use captions at least some of the time.
- 66% of ESL students find captions extremely or very helpful.
- 61% of students with learning disabilities find captions helpful.
Captioned videos are found to facilitate a culture of inclusivity.
- A willingness to serve all learners equitably should be at the heart of any institutional accessibility initiative.
- Designing with accessibility in mind benefits all learners, not just those with disabilities.
- Accessibility is the convenience that some students may rely on due to their own individual circumstances.
- Accessibility is about anticipating the needs of all students and providing them with the best opportunity to succeed.
You should always consider requesting captions for videos uploaded to Kaltura. However, the Kaltura auto caption can only guarantee 70-80% accuracy. To be ADA compliant (99%), you should consider editing the captions once generated. Transcription/caption services are available from the Center for Students with Disabilities upon formal request.
Although instructors are very fluent and engaging when speaking to students in a face-to-face environment, many find it difficult to record themselves speaking to a camera or microphone in the absence of a live audience. Practice will help, but identifying the challenges ahead of time will better prepare you and save valuable time. Click the purple plus signs on the image below to review some of the potential challenges when making and using educational videos.
The following checklist is designed to help instructors quickly gauge the effectiveness of an educational video. This checklist can also be used to evaluate external videos before integrating them into your course. All the best practices mentioned previously are taken into account when developing this tool while referencing Brame’s (2016) framework on effective educational videos.
- The video contributes to the achievement of the stated learning objectives or competencies.
- The relevance between the video and the course is clearly stated.
- The video is accompanied by a transcript or captions.
- The visual aids in the video are adequately described.
- The video is succinct (≤ 7 minutes) and focused.
- The content in the video is organized.
- The video uses up-to-date theory and practice in the discipline.
- The tone of the video is conversational and delivered with enthusiasm.
- The video includes questions or activities to promote interaction.
Should I show my face in my lecture videos?
This is a personal preference, though there is some evidence that showing your face increases instructor presence compared to a video with only audio narration (Borup, West, & Graham, 2011). However, any video including your face or narration increases instructor presence when compared with no video (Baumgartner, Esmail, & Johnson, 2017; Borup, West, & Graham, 2011; Oyarzun, Barreto, & Conklin, 2018; Richardson et al., 2015; Richardson et al., 2017). Keep in mind that when using Kaltura mashup in HuskyCT, students will have the option to change the view from PowerPoint/Screencast only, speaker only, or half and half.
I understand that videos should be short, but how short?
The reasons behind the segmenting principle (Mayer, 2008) - breaking down content in your videos and keeping them concise - is to keep students engaged. Depending on the purpose of the video, best practice is limiting the length to anywhere from 6 minutes to 15 minutes. Our general recommendation regarding video length is to be as short as the topic warrants and don’t take these numbers too literally.
What are the specific Quality Matters standards that apply to video content?
- Course Overview and Introduction (Standards 1.1-1.9) applies to intro, LMS/course orientation, and content walkthrough videos.
- Assessment and Measurement (specifically Standard 3.5) applies to feedback videos.
- Instructional Materials (Standards 4.1-4.5) applies to module/unit/topic and lecture videos.
- Course Technology (Standards 6.1-6.4) relates to use of video-related technology.
- Accessibility and Usability (specifically Standards 8.3-8.6) applies to video usage in general.
Should I use narrated PowerPoint slides or screen capture videos?
Narrated PowerPoint slides work well to display main points or explain a static visual aide. Screen capture videos are a better choice when trying to show something procedural, like how to use a software.
Can I use the recording of my synchronous lecture for an online course?
This depends on a few factors. Consider:
- Does the content of this recording contribute to the achievement of the stated learning objectives or competencies?
- Is the recording accessible, particularly concerning describing visual aids?
- Does the recording enhance the course experience, or could aspects of its reuse, such as the quality, be distracting?
If the recording meets your goals and best practices, go ahead and use it! If not and you have the editing software and technical expertise needed, you may be able to cut together relevant sections with newly-recorded introduction or transition sections. Otherwise, it might be best to create a new video specifically for your online course.
One significant drawback of synchronous session recordings is the length. Long videos, especially instructor-centered lecture videos, are saturated with information and are prone to create fatigue. Consider the following ways to minimize the side effects:
- Break it down into shorter videos;
- Extract clips covering essential content and supplement with other forms of materials, such as readings and activities;
- Use chaptering tools to create streamlined navigation.
* Recordings of synchronous lectures should be used with caution when there is student presence in them. The US Department of Education has issued guidelines specifying the dos and don'ts to be FERPA compliant. UConn's interpretation can be found in an earlier post from the Privacy Office. All questions regarding this matter should be directed to Laurie Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is a lightboard video?
Lightboard is a special studio recording setup that allows instructors to record and annotate on a transparent glass illuminated with LED lights. A lightboard video resembles the face-to-face environment in that the instructor stands facing the camera and writes on the lightboard in front of them. Lightboard videos are found to be of special value for lectures where instructor annotations are called for. Because the teaching process (writing and explaining) is happening at the same time, it requires less editing and animation techniques compared to other video formats.
CETL’s lightboard studio is open for appointments. Our studio is also equipped with a green screen that allows instructors to record raw footage and composite images to be used for video production.
- eCampus Knowledge Base articles
- For more on tips on setting up a recording space etc., refer to the ITS article: Video recording tips.
- Recording resources and tools that are available for UConn instructors can be found in the ITS article: Recording technologies.
- Guides on most commonly used recording methods are detailed in the ITS article: Options for creating videos.
Baumgartner, J., Esmail, H., & Johnson, C. (2017, May 17). Letting your personality shine online. The Teaching Professor. Retrieved from https://www.teachingprofessor.com/topics/online-learning/teaching-strategies-techniques/letting-your-personality-shine-online
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