How do I prepare video materials?

Creating video content for a course is different than preparing a lecture. Videos should be more concise than a lecture in order to keep students’ attention. This can mean rethinking your approach to the topics in the course. You will need to make choices about what kind of videos to record before creating materials. High-production videos require upfront planning to write scripts and create slides optimized for the screen. 

Consider the design of the videos

Brevity is key to success. Research shows that the median engagement time for videos less than six minutes long is close to 100 percent — in other words, students tend to watch the whole video.(1) However, as videos approach 9-12 minutes long, engagement drops to around 50 percent. Videos between 12-40 minutes result in ~20 percent student engagement. So plan for short, focused videos that last between five and eight minutes.

Conversational videos are engaging. Students learn more from videos when the instructor in the videos uses a conversational tone and word choice. First, students do not have to stop listening to look up an unfamiliar word, and second, a conversational style encourages social partnership with the instructor and fosters engagement.(2) Slides should include images and the amount of text should be minimized to keep students listening to you instead of reading slides. Relating to real-world situations, such as case studies or current events, will keep students’ attention. 

Determine what style suits your course’s needs. Screen-capture videos are the best option for most courses. Most commonly, this will be done with an audio/video recording of the presentation accompanied by PowerPoint or Keynote slides. When creating screen capture videos, you can enhance engagement by showing yourself on-screen at the beginning and end.

If you are confident in your recording and presentation skills, you can present your content in a different manner, rather than using slides as the focal point. Some topics are better understood via demonstration or interview than from a presentation.


Plan video materials before recording begins

A script can speed up the process. Video content should be planned and produced with a script or notes. The time you spend practicing your script along with the slides and learning the technologies will pay off later.

Well-designed slides are time consuming but worthwhile. Well-designed presentations increase engagement and address accessibility requirements. In general, reduce the amount of the text of the slides, increase the font size and use images to hold the students’ interest. Specific recommendations about slide presentations can be found in How do I create effective slide presentations?

Connect videos to other assignments to reinforce learning. Have a discussion on the video’s topic in the forums or organize your video content as prerequisites for solving homework problems. Research shows that students who were given guiding questions before watching a video scored higher on a subsequent assessment than students who watched the same video without being given guiding questions ahead of time.(3) Students could also be accountable for content through short quizzes (either in-video or separately). Another study showed that students who watched videos that included in-video questions (using a tool like Kaltura) performed better on subsequent assessments compared to students who watched the same videos without the questions.(4)

Creative Commons License

Flexible Teaching guides were developed by Duke Learning Innovation and adapted for NIU by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. They are shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


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