6 Ways to Use Videos for Learning & Engagement

Decorative: "V-I-D-E-O" letters hanging from a clothes line


"Six Ways to Use Video to Promote Learning and Engagement" (post) outlines ways to make productive use of video "whether you teach online or face-to-face" -- video options, that is, that are not simply "talking-head lectures."

  • Such "videos can be added to courses without significant extra time and effort."

1. Course-introduction videos

  • "[W]elcom[e] students ... and provid[e] important information ... about your teaching style, your expectations, and how students can be successful in meeting the course objectives."
  • "[A]void reading directly from the syllabus in your video" lest students "believe they have satisfactorily engaged with this information without having read the document."
  • Do "not mimic the first full day of class" or "read directly from [a] script."
  • "[B]e brief—no more than 3-4 minutes ... focu[s] on the student’s future success, not the syllabus."

2. Weekly introduction videos

a. "[S]et the tone and agenda for the week ahead .. [and] help students get organized by building a mental model of what’s expected and how this week’s work fits within larger course concepts."

  • "[K]eep these videos brief  ... no more than 3–4 minutes in length."
  • Include reminders of assignments etc. to "help students stay on track for success."
  • "Do students need to start thinking about a project ahead of time?"
  • "Should they acquire necessary signatures for a service learning experience early in the semester?"

b. Points to consider:

  • "[A]im for a short, one-take video and only make edits when you’ve completely lost your train of thought and needed to start over."
  • "Speak casually and naturally. Try not to get hung-up on filler words ... students are only going to watch the video once or twice and move on." 
  • "Resist the urge to add fancy effects, graphics, or music."

4. "Weekly wrap-up videos"

a. "[P]rovid[e] students with feedback on how they, as a class, performed that week ... validation for their efforts ... ensuring students they are on the right track."

  • "These just-in-time videos seemed more authentic—and the faculty more sincere and approachable—than the prepackaged videos ... scripted and pre-recorded prior to launching the course."
  • "[C]onsider posting ... on Friday afternoon to give your students an extra nudge as they head into the weekend."

b. Good topics to address in weekly wrap-ups:

  • "[W]as this week’s discussion on the mark or were there a few difficult concepts that would benefit from further clarification?"
  • "What were the major points covered?"
  • "What expectations are students meeting?"
  • "What expectations are they not yet meeting, but still have time to satisfy?"
  • "[W]hat questions have you been answering this week during office hours or over email?" 

5. "Record intros and wrap-ups throughout the semester"

  • These are "just-in-time recordings, and ... the easiest method ... is a simple webcam shot from your computer." 
  • "Courses change ... and you may not yet know what the final version of your course assignments and projects are going to look like."
  • "Recording weekly videos too early ... often leads to cutting out chunks of irrelevant information or project specifications which have since changed within your design."

6. "Record instructional content prior to the semester"

  • "They can be in a variety of formats, including webcam, digital storytelling (narration over imagery), or animation, and will likely require multiple takes."
  • "[O]mit specific dates, references to major holiday breaks (i.e. 'Fall Break'), or page and chapter numbers within your textbook (they may change with the next edition)."
  • "By omitting nonenduring content from your videos, you can reuse your instructional content videos the next time you teach ... [without] re-record[ing] a video."
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