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Creating Highly Effective Educational Videos

November 25, 2018

By Niki Glick, Jodie Nehrt, and Tori Reany

In last week’s Midweek Mentor What are the Secrets to Making Highly Effective Education Videos, we discussed designing and recording more engaging videos with a focus on images and audio rather than bulleted lists and paragraphs of text. The Faculty Center for Learning Development at the University of Hartford created an information guide on 12 Principles of Multimedia Learning that elaborates on best-practices for designing effective presentations. So how do you implement these principles into your own presentation recordings?

To keep your viewers engaged and lessen the chance of them “zoning out,” all video presentations should be limited to no more than 15 minutes. The segmenting principle explains that people learn better when information is chunked into segments rather than provided as one continuous presentation. Even if you lecture for the full meeting time in a face-to-face course, there are natural pauses and breaks in the lecture that give the students a chance to catch up, ask questions, or just switch their mindset to a new topic. Think about these natural pauses and use them to chunk your long presentation into multiple smaller videos. Viewers will not know where these natural pauses and separations should occur, and by you splitting the video into smaller recordings, you give them the chance to take a break, catch up on notes, and digest what they just heard.

Let’s distinguish between a video demonstration and a video lecture. Demonstrations focus on a procedure or process and show the viewers how to perform an action whereas lectures are provided in a story-telling dialogue that informs the viewers about a topic at hand. Some techniques and technologies can be implemented for either presentation type, while others are more applicable to one or the other. Your video presentation may be a demonstration, lecture, or a combination of the two.

Recording video demonstration:

If your content requires the use of formulas, transcriptions, or diagrams that are easier to draw than create digitally, ITS maintains a recording studio located in Science East 2226. The studio is equipped with a document camera to record the view of your hand as you write, a white board to record you as you write and lecture, and a video camera setup for a more traditional option. Other technologies that accommodate this type of instruction include annotating over a Zoom recording or animating a PowerPoint slide. ITS also has a Wacom Pen Tablet that can be checked out for recording written demonstrations.

Call the ITS helpdesk at 650-5500 to schedule the recording room or to request the Wacom Pen Tablet.

Recording video lecture:

In the Midweek Mentor video, Dr. John Orlando presented the idea of using video storytelling in the manner of a Ted Talk rather than the traditional online lecture format of narration over slides full of text. This style of video presentation is consistent with the redundancy principle, which asserts that people learn better from graphics paired with narration than from graphics, narration, and on-screen text. Video storytelling also upholds the modality principle that people learn better from graphics and narration than from animation and onscreen text. His recommendation for achieving this style this was to write out your script or outline first, and then search for images to place in conjunction with the content of your narration. There are several methods for searching images that are licensed appropriately to include in your videos. Lovejoy Library maintains a Libguide with a list of links to some of these sites.  Writing the outline or script initially allows you to time the images to coincide with your narrative. Some images may be viewed for 20 seconds while others may need only five; you control the flow of the images to best suit your content.  

While it is best practice to refrain from using text-heavy presentation materials, that does not imply you should forgo offering any text-based documentation. In fact, people learn better when the organization of the essential materials is known to them, i.e. by using the signaling principle. One way to accomplish this is to provide additional documentation to accompany the video. This can be the script you created, a PowerPoint printed in the note layout format, an annotated outline of the topics to be covered, or something similar. Creating guided notes which list out thought-provoking questions to focus on, leave blank spaces to fill in, and/or highlight major items in bullet points are simple, yet effective ways to provide the heavier text-based content. The temporal contiguity principle states that people learn better when images and the corresponding words are presented simultaneously. By providing guided notes to accompany the video, the viewers are immersed in a multimodal learning experience of simultaneous audio, visual, and tactile stimuli.

Creating highly effective videos is a process that takes consideration and time, but the result will be videos that capture student interest, supplement the other content in your course, and offer students a variety of possibilities for interacting with your course material. In addition to last week’s Midweek Mentor video and the information included here, view this Essentials of Creating Videos for Learning Webinar presented by IDLT. For assistance in planning and creating your next educational video, request a consultation with an instructional designer.

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