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Creating Effective Video

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Creating Effective Educational Videos

Creating your own videos for your courses is a great way to engage your students online. You want the videos to be effective and useful for many semesters to come, so while you are taking the time to create videos be sure to follow best practices for best results.

Here are five important tips for creating effective videos:

Video Length and Engagement

Course videos should be concise and well-organized. While it is generally true that it is best to keep video length under 10 minutes, this recommendation is often impractical and can interfere with effective teaching. Look for logical places to divide a lecture into chunks so that each chunk is under 30 minutes, but without dividing the content in a way that breaks the flow of teaching. Each chunk can be separately recorded, uploaded, and placed in a sequence in Canvas. It can also be very helpful to develop an outline or script to keep the lecture concise and fit more content into a shorter time.

There are more important factors that influence learning and engagement than video length. Richard Mayer, educational psychologist at UCSB, has done extensive research on multimedia learning. Click here for an excellent and practical summary of his findings on effective educational videos.

Good Audio Makes Good Video

Well-recorded audio is an essential, but often overlooked, part of creating effective videos. At the most basic level, students need to be able to clearly hear and understand what you are saying. Using a decent microphone instead of a computer’s built-in microphone goes a long way toward producing professional-sounding audio that won’t be a distraction for students.

We recommend using a headset microphone for all videos where you will not be on camera, such as narrated Powerpoint and screen recording lectures. We recommend using a desktop microphone for webcam videos. Contact out office for current recommendations and to obtain a microphone for your recording purposes.

It is also important to consider background noise when creating videos. Close your office door to shut out hallway sounds; turn off phones, computer sounds, and music; choose a quiet time of day for recording. This will minimize background distractions making it easier for students to learn by decreasing incidental/extraneous cognitive processing.

Minimize Distracting Visuals

Just as it is important to minimize auditory distractions, it is important to minimize visual distractions when recording with a camera in your office. Pay attention to everything that will be in view of the camera and remove anything distracting: turn off computer monitors, close window blinds, etc. In general, a simpler view is better, including clothing.

Scripts & Outlines

Writing a script can be an effective way to create concise, focused educational videos. By following a script, redundant and extraneous information can be weeded out, and you can be sure to not forget any lecture points. Scripts can reduce the stress of “being on-camera” and minimize “uh” and “um”. Furthermore, writing a script makes it much easier to incorporate effective teaching techniques such as clearly summarizing key ideas and signaling section divisions in the lecture.

Writing a script does require an investment of time and can be a daunting task. One approach is to make an audio recording of the lecture and use text-to-speech software to create a draft script which can be edited.

If writing a script is too time-consuming, or if reading from a script feels too artificial, at least prepare a lecture outline to refer to during recording. Outlines can help to keep things on track and avoid tangents. You may already have lecture notes included in their Powerpoint presentation, which can be accessed during recording in Presenter view.

Use a personal, enthusiastic style and speak relatively quickly

Creating videos for your course makes your course more personal and students feel more connected to you by hearing your voice and, depending on the video, seeing you in your natural habitat (office.) This sense of personal connection increases student engagement and helps motivate effort.

While it may seem counterintuitive, research indicates that students are more engaged the faster the instructor speaks in a video. This is true up to a point, of course. Speech should not be so fast as to be awkward or unintelligible. Just remember that slower speech does not equate to better engagement.

Use a conversational, personal style when speaking. This does not mean watering down the content or avoiding technical terminology, but avoid a formal, impersonal style of speaking. In general, using first and second person pronouns (e.g. "I", "you", "we") creates a more personal style. Personalization encourages the student to try harder to understand you by creating a sense of social partnership.


Please contact our office for information on having your videos captioned.