Tips for designing effective educational videos

  • Wanting to move your course to a blended or online format?  Don't simply record your hour-long lectures as they are!  Research shows that students do not engage with online lecture content in the same way as they do face-to-face lectures.  Shorter, sharper, single concept videos of 6 minutes or less are much more effective learning tools than long lectures.
  • Consider whether a video is in fact the best way for the students to learn the content. Students learn more effectively when they are actively involved in constructing their own meaning around information. Is there a more active way for your students to engage with this content? 
  • Sometimes video is the best option, especially for difficult to grasp concepts, but before you start a complex production, first check to see if there is an existing open educational resource that you could use instead. Also be aware of the resources being produced by your colleagues, you might want to consider a collaborative approach and divide up the workload and share resources. 
  • Make your explanations of concepts succinct. Students learn better from a coherent summary (Coherence Principle).
  • Use pictures & visual representations such as charts and diagrams together with audio narration to illustrate your points. Students learn better when they have multiple inputs from which to create different mental models to enable them to understand and build connections (Multimedia principle). More information on this topic.  
  • When possible try interspersing visual content such as slides, graphics and screencasts with video of the teacher talking. Having a teacher presence is engaging for students. However for content-focused video it is better to include text and diagrammatic supports as well as video of the teacher talking, to help explain and illustrate concepts for students.
  • For more complex projects consider developing a storyboard to help you plan out the sequence and elements of your presentation. Getting it right in a storyboard first can save a lot of time during development and editing of your project. Download a storyboard template (Docx, 877kb)
  • Tie your videos back to activities in your online course. Ensure students actually watch the videos and provide them with consolidation opportunities by linking the viewing of the video with a follow-up activity such as a short quiz, choice activity or discussion post in your Moodle course.
  • What is the scale of the production?  How much time and effort do you have to invest in developing your video?  It is important to ensure that the time invested in producing your video does not outweigh the significance of your video. More information on this topic.
  • You might want to consider developing a script before you start recording to help you focus on the audio content you need to capture. Writing a script will also mean that you have a transcript (an alternative format to video) readily available for publication to support those who may experience accessibility issues with the video format. Download a script template (Docx, 877kb)
  • Understand the implications of Copyright to your project. If you are using any third party content you must observe the copyright law and licencing that applies. If in doubt contact the University's library and/or Copyright Office for advice. More information on this topic. 
  • Don't be afraid.  Research shows that teacher presence is more of a motivating factor for student engagement than production values. Be yourself and have a go!