Creating Effective Instructional Videos for Online Courses

Salena Rabidoux and Amy Rottmann provide instructors easy-to-follow tips and techniques for developing evergreen videos that engage students.

November 8, 2017
 

Creating videos is a daunting task that often takes copious amounts of time. In order to make effective videos and streamline their use for your online classes, keep in mind these useful strategies that will allow you to reuse videos in multiple courses.

Relevant Salutations

When introducing the topic of your video, it is helpful to say "hello" or "welcome to (course/module)" and move into the content. If you say "good morning" or "good afternoon," those phrases may only be applicable to you at that given moment and not when your students view the video. Starting off with a specific time reference, such as morning or evening, can jar students’ attention and turn them off from the content in general, as the time reference may not be applicable to them.

Consistent Social Presence

Increasing social presence through instructor-led videos is an effective strategy for establishing a welcoming online environment. One strategy for increasing social presence is providing a welcome video that introduces the instructor to their students. When instructors share information about themselves or their families, it is best practice to reference years instead of length of time. For example, if you have a daughter who is 5 years old during the recording of the video, it is best to reference your daughter being born in 2012 versus how cute she is at 5 years old.

Recording Length

Instructional videos should be 20 minutes or less to keep students engaged. If 20 minutes is not enough time to cover the content, try breaking up the content into smaller segmented videos. Plus, when updating content in instructional videos, the smaller the video, the easier it is to update information.

Foster Active Listening

Unlike watching a TV show, instructional videos do not usually capture the audience, but there are some strategies that can be implemented to engage your learners. You need to fluctuate your voice and inflect on key details. Showing excitement, both in your voice and actions, will spark excitement in your learners. Also, some lecture recording software programs, such as Camtasia Studio, allow students to interact with the video. This option is also a great way to integrate informal self-assessment, which allows students to test their understanding of content.

Labeling Videos

Videos are best identified or referenced by topics versus where they fall within the course. Instead of giving videos a file name like Video 2 or Module 2 Video, use titles like “Educational Theories: Servant Leadership,” which will allow you to reuse the video in different courses and/or at different points within a course.

Referencing Campus Resources

Videos should provide concrete examples to establish a baseline for all students. However, to increase the longevity of your videos, avoid identifying specific names. For example, if you are teaching students about a campus resource such as library personnel, instead of saying “visit Sarah Sparks in the library,” you could say, “Speak to the campus reference librarian.” Then, below the video or within your course module, provide the direct references (e.g., Sarah Sparks) in written format.

Geographical Examples

Providing examples of current events to create concrete examples strengthens students’ understanding, but it is important to keep in mind that some local events might not resonate with all your students. For example, referencing resources within your community may not be applicable to others in different geographical locations. If the instructor lives by the ocean and she references the sea lice epidemic, someone in the Midwest may not be able to relate. Also, while the current event may be relevant at the time of the recording, it will diminish the life expectancy and relevancy for using the video in later courses.

Bio

Salena Rabidoux is teaching program coordinator and instructional designer at the University North Carolina at Wilmington. Amy Rottmann is assistant professor of education at Lenoir-Rhyne University.

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