Producing Video for Courses

Producing Videos for Courses

Whether it be for a flipped, online, hybrid, or face-to-face course, the choices made in designing instructional videos are different for every instructor but the overall process will always look the same. The following strategies will serve as that foundation. We’ve all seen great examples of videos for learning (e.g., Ted Talks) and the intent here is to help you become the great examples. In order to do so, you need to design the videos you create. Designing means making intentional choices for very specific and well-founded reasons.

It’s important that we begin thinking beyond the outmoded view of learning; that learning involves taking information from the teacher and putting that info into the learner as though they were a container waiting to be filled, a process known as knowledge transmission. We want to focus on knowledge construction; that learners actively build mental representations based on what they already know and what is being presented to them, then synthesizing their own meaning.

We also need to recognize the pedagogical advantages of creating and using instructional videos. Evidence-based research on multimedia learning has revealed several key advantages. We all learn at different rates, so giving students control over the schedule and pacing of their learning individualizes the learning experience and increases their motivation to learn. Students can more readily view, pause, and review content giving them a greater chance of not being left behind. If they get stuck during an assignment they have the next best thing to office hours: a clear, concise explanation from the instructor via a video.

Identifying your audience

Of course, students are your audience, but we need to distill this down further, to the baser elements. For example, we may assume that all of our students are coming in with proper foundational knowledge, but we must ask ourselves if this base knowledge is correct or complete. Are they bringing along biases that work against the learning they’ll do in this course? There may be a significant portion of the class that does not have that prior knowledge. Do those students who have that foundation require a quick brush-up of that knowledge? Addressing these questions can help to catch those who may slowly fall behind as the semester progresses. As the questions above would suggest, addressing one issue may address a few others at the same time.

Identifying learning outcomes

The leaning outcome should be the purpose of your video. Typically expressed as knowledge, skills, or attitudes, learning outcomes cue learners in to what they will know or should be able to do as a result of a learning activity. Bloom’s Taxonomy has a fairly extensive table that can facilitate finding the right verbs with which to cue learners in on prioritizing information. Think of the learning outcome as the destination of your video.

Identifying strategies for embedding active learning

Active learning occurs when students mindfully and dynamically participate in their own learning. This means asking them to analyze and synthesize arguments, apply concepts, evaluate real world situations, and to create or demonstrate processes. These kinds of activities allow students to practice their critical thinking skills and to develop a deeper, reflective, and more flexible understanding of disciplinary content. How do we engage the learner in an inherently passive activity such as watching a video? Many Active Learning techniques can be used in an instructional video to challenge the viewer, leading to deeper learning. Outlined below are five strategies for engaging students in your instructional video.

  • A Scavenger Hunt
    Asks the student to look for something throughout the video and record their findings. This could be along the lines of finding three pieces of information that were mentioned which are incorrect, find the steps in a process that are out of order, or which countries or entities were mislabeled. This could also be as simple as taking something random that occurred during filming and turning it into something fun, such as “How many times did my cat run across the keyboard?”
  • A Question
    Can be used as a means to guide the student’s line of thought, perhaps even down the path of a common misconception in order to bring about that “Aha!” moment. But this strategy can also be used to control the pacing of a video, asking the viewer to stop and reflect on a question or review key concepts.
  • An Assessment
    Involves making the above strategy part of a graded quiz taken after watching the video, penalizing those who do not watch the video. This can be a low points, low stakes quiz but there would be more at stake for watching than video than if no points were assigned to it. You could also have the student turn these in at the beginning of the next class, perhaps even use it as a “ticket” to enter the class.
  • A Guiding Problem or Statement
    Typically occuring towards the beginning of a video, this gives the student an idea or framework around which to organize their own thoughts about the material presented to them during the video. Use this to guide or cue them in to how you want them to be thinking about the material presented.
  • A Parting Question
    Is used as a way to wrap up the video and poses a thought that will get students thinking about the next video or assignment or lead them into in-class activities.

Develop a plan for creating an instructional video

A good way to begin planning out the foundation of your video is to divide a paper out into two columns, writing out bullet points of what you will say on the left side and on the right estimating the amount of time you will speak on each point. This will not only help you manage your speaking time during the video but give you a good estimate on the total length of the video. This will be helpful for refining your content or breaking videos into segments, or a series, if needed. Though there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer when it comes to the length of a video generally it is suggested somewhere between 5-15 minutes. Video length is mostly dependent upon on what makes sense for the content; what to keep, what to get rid of, or what can be moved into another video.

Video quality

Many believe that their videos need to be of “production value”, or the best quality imaginable. But not everyone has access to a film studio 24/7, though faculty can schedule time in the Faculty Media Production Space which provides high-definition filming services to all IU faculty state-wide. For those of you filming at home or in your office, what we are looking for is the quality that best shows the information. For example, are text and graphics legible or are they blurred and difficult to discern? Is the audio so noisy or garbled that speech becomes lost in background noise? To take a note from Edward Tufte, "Above all else, show the data." As long as the information you are presenting to students is concise and clearly legible and audible do not spend too much time on trying to create a polished video with extraneous effects. A few easy-to-use IU supported tools you can use to help with this process are:

  • Kaltura and Kaltura CaptureSpace

    Kaltura is a tool that will record from your webcam and/or microphone and is built into Canvas, thereby streamlining the uploading and publishing process. Kaltura also has a little-known feature called CaptureSpace which, among other things, will record what is happening on your screen in conjunction with your webcam and microphone. Instead of recording your screen you can select a PowerPoint to work from as you provide voiceover narration. Another ability provided by Kaltura which many instructors find useful is the ability to annotate onscreen while you are recording. It’s worth mentioning that both Kaltura and CaptureSpace have basic video editing capabilities. If this sounds interesting to you, Kaltura can be found in the left-hand navigation in your Canvas course while the CaptureSpace feature can be found by clicking on Kaltura: My Media > Add New > CaptureSpace Recording

  • Zoom

    Zoom (located at https://uits.iu.edu/zoom ) is relatively new to IU but offers users a quick, straightforward method of recording with a very simple layout. Built as videoconferencing tool, instructors can not only record instructional videos using Zoom but they can host the recording session for the class to attend virtually and provide feedback and ask or answer questions. Zoom also makes it easy to switch between webcam, virtual whiteboard, and PowerPoint on the fly and has an easy-to-use annotations feature as well. Once you’re finished recording and end the meeting, Zoom will create your video and save it to your computer where it is easily uploaded to Kaltura to provide to students in your Canvas course.