Tips for creating effective educational videos

Tips for creating effective educational videos

1. Structure of a Knowledge Clip

  • Start your video with a teaser, this can be a simple question or statement, a short experiment, an object, et cetera. Enticing your audience at the beginning of a video can be a powerful tool to capture the attention of your audience.
  • Provide students with an introduction in which you give context and align purpose. Make sure the learning goals of the video are clear and related to the rest of the course.
  • End the video with a clear ending, consisting of a clear summary of what was discussed in the knowledge clip. This can contribute to the creation of a coherent story.
  • Keep it short and simple (K.I.S.S.) Students pay more attention to a video when it is no longer than 6 to 10 minutes, since the average attention span lasts within this time.


2. Keeping your students, activated, involved and motivated.

  • Incorporate guiding questions or use in-video questions by for example the use of the Feedbackfruits tool interactive videos in Canvas.
  • Connect the video to a larger assignment, quiz, or have students join in online discussions with their peers.
  • Create diverse videos: engagement is higher when the input is diverse. Alternate a talking head, pictures, and the instructor, zoom in and out, or switch to a different video.
  • Use examples that relate to the learner and establish the practical relevance of the video frequently.
  • The video must be comprehensible for the students, but must also challenge them.


3. Design your Slides

The following tips on how to design your slides are based on the principles of Multimedia Learning of Mayer (2003).

  • Multimedia Principle and Modality Principle

It is proven that students learn better from words and pictures than from words alone. So, using photos or pictures in your slides or other visuals is recommended. Moreover, people learn better from pictures and spoken text, than from animations and written text. Therefore, avoid animations and/or written text.

  • Coherence Principle

The principle of K.I.S.S. (Keep it Short and Simple) can be applied to designing the visuals of the video. Avoid using photos or other visuals that do not have any value for your education. Students can be lead away from the actual goal of the video by the use of these distracting visuals.

  • Redundancy and Spatial/Temporal Contiguity Principle

The use of words in your slides or visuals can also be distracting for students. When students get information via spoken words, moving images and written words simultaneously, the working memory tends to have an overflow of information. Only use words when needed, try to avoid sentences, and integrate text in the graphic. When using written and spoken words, make sure they are presented simultaneously and in a conversational style.

  • Signalling Principle

It is important to guide students’ attention to the focus of the visual. For instance, arrows, zooming in, and highlighting can be used to make clear what you want students to pay attention to.

  • Segmenting Principle

Students learn better from a multimedia lesson when it is presented in user-paced segments rather than as a continuous unit. Divide videos into meaningful parts.


4. Script your Video

Once you have designed the story and the slides, you can script your story. Especially when recording the video in a professional recording studio, scripting your story can be an asset.

  • Create autocues for your script that can help you focus on the way you convey your story, instead of having to focus on what you are going to say next.
  • Be careful with timestamps. For example don’t end with ‘this concludes our lecture of today’. The viewer chooses if this is actually the last lecture for today or not.
  • Be consistent in terminology. Are the viewers familiar with these terms? If not, explain them.
  • It could be useful to point out the intonation, by underlining the keywords in your script.


5. Record your Video

  • Smile and keep your face relaxed, but don’t be afraid of being expressive.
  • Look directly at your viewers (i.e., at the camera). Scripting your story, and creating autocues helps you do this. The autocues are placed over the camera, making you look directly into the camera while reading your script.
  • An array of research has shown that using your hands when you speak does not only make it easier for the listener to know what you are talking about, but it also helps the speakers with the fluency of their presentation.
  • Take breaks at natural points in the video and emphasize words with your voice. Try to avoid talking monotonously, because this could be distracting for students. Try to breathe from your stomach region, rather than taking shallow breaths, as this will calm you and help the natural pace of your presentation.


Five things to do with video you may have not considered:

  1. Make an introduction video for your course to introduce yourself, the course (why it is the best course in the world), its main topics and how they relate to each other/why these are relevant to learn about.
  2. A presentation style video assignment, e.g., let (groups of) student(s) present their project to their peers and to you.
  3. A video assignment for your students doesn’t have to be a presentation. You can send them ‘into the world’ to record certain phenomena related to course content and explain their choice. Such a video may also consist of a series of pictures connected by the students’ comments (in writing/narration/vlog style, etc.).
  4. Assignment of the day/week: a brief recording made by you (or by your students) based on a current (real-life) event that relates to course content. It could contain a puzzle you ask your students to solve.
  5. Select existing video as the basis of an assignment (or the assignment of the day/week). You don’t always have to create your own video as there is a vast amount of useful material out there on a variety of platforms. Even if you don’t create the material yourself, you’re still the gatekeeper to ensure your students are exposed to high quality material.