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Educational Design and Engagement

Educational Design and Engagement

Enriching the student learning experience & supporting development of on campus and online courses.

Why and When to Use Video

Happy young black woman setting up a camera to film using a smartphone.

Photo by George Milton, 2021, CCO

With an ever-increasing demand for online learning, more and more educators are relying on the power of video to share their teaching far and wide. But, before recording every possible lecture or bit of content, we should take pause and consider the ‘why’ and ‘when’ of using video.

Bearing in mind that creating video content can take more effort, time and people power than other formats, you want to make sure you’re making the most of it! It is the aim of the educator to:

create a coherent narrative path through the mediated instruction and activity set such that students are aware of the explicit and implicit learning goals and activities in which they participate.

Anderson et al., 2001, p.6. (Source: NYU)

The media you create plays a key part in achieving this goal.

Why use video in online learning?
Although the use of media itself doesn’t guarantee effective learning, when used appropriately it can help your online learning materials to:

• Spark interest in your subject.
• Increase engagement.
• Encourage active learning.
• Highlight key concepts.

In the online environment, video adds a human element to the learning, which makes the learner feel valued and less isolated. It gives you the opportunity to demonstrate, story tell and showcase. It also helps to remove potential stress from the learning experience – and add flexibility and autonomy – as learners can pause, watch and review at their own pace.

Video aids retention (significantly more than text!) and the large variety of styles on offer – piece to camera (‘talking head’), screencast, demonstration, scenario, animation, interview and so on – allow you to easily adapt this format to your own teaching and learning requirements.

When should I use video in my materials?
In general, video content is most effective when used to highlight a key topic, relevant to the learning outcomes, for 5 minutes or less. Engagement significantly falls away after that, but up to 5 minutes, learners are most likely to watch 100%. If you feel your video needs to be longer, it’s probably because your topic is covering too much and can be chunked down into shorter sub-topics.

Another good use case for video is to enhance the narrative of the learner journey by, for example, telling a story or introducing case studies. This will grab your learners’ attention and get them emotionally invested in your content.

Creating video also gives you the opportunity to collaborate, potentially worldwide, with experts and leaders in the field. Consider setting up an interview, panel discussion or debate to offer invaluable insights to your learners.

If you have a topic that is inherently visual, video is a useful tool for bringing that to life, which also aids information recall. We’ll look at some fantastic websites for finding free stock clips, images and more later in the week.

5 golden guidelines
In our latest short online course, How to Create Video for Online Courses, we devised 5 golden guidelines you can follow that, research shows, lead to high engagement and contribute to an overall positive learning experience:

1. Keep your video short (5 mins or less) and focused on learning outcomes.
2. Present in a friendly, conversational and enthusiastic way.
3. Pose questions and include active learning opportunities (e.g. problem solving).
4. Use visual elements to enhance content (e.g. to highlight key points).
5. Be creative with visuals, stories and people you include to strengthen the narrative.

If you’d like to learn more, then sign-up to How to Create Videos for Online Courses available on FutureLearn. We will guide you through the three stages of the filming process and share the tools and techniques to plan, film, and edit high-quality videos for online learning.


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