Videos are important components of online courses. One of the most common comments on course evaluations is that students appreciate videos—and want even more.
One way that instructors can use video in their course is through Announcements. These videos are a great way to boost instructor and social presence and help students connect to the instructor.
But course designers should consider including permanent videos in the content of the course. These videos carry over term to term, so they must be transferrable to any other instructor who teaches the class. In other words, they must be about the course content and not the instructor. Demonstrating how to calculate ROI is good; telling a story about that time in the Peace Corp when the instructor calculated ROI to help their host community would not be appropriate in the static course content and should be saved for announcements.
Whether these videos use the webcam to capture the instructor delivering a short lecture in front of a whiteboard or Learning Glass, or use screen recording to demonstrate how to do a tricky problem in Excel or narrate a PowerPoint, the videos must be high quality teaching tools to be used in the course.
Videos in the static course content do not replace active instructor presence elsewhere in the course. Students are very sensitive to when a course is run by autopilot. Instructor presence must be demonstrated through topic and timely announcements, appropriate participation in discussions, and instructional feedback on assessments focused on helping students improve. This is especially important if the course will be taught by someone other than the course designer.
The following are some guidelines for creating video as part of the static course content—in other words, content that will be copied from term to term and could be taught by more than one instructor. As always, the best resource for designing course content is your instructional designer.
- The video is specifically targeted to address a unit- or course-level concept/activity that is common to all sections and instructors.
- The video addresses static content that doesn’t change from semester to semester or instructor to instructor (e.g., demonstrating how to calculate ROI, defining net present value, explaining BATNA/WATNA).
- The video does not represent an ad hoc response to one student’s question or one section’s unique need for supplemental material. (Those videos could go in announcements.)
- The quality of the video needs to be professional. Simple is good; the video doesn’t have to include slick multi-media features or advanced PowerPoint tricks. But the content should be organized and concise, and the delivery should be practiced, polished, and understandable.
- Any writing should be easily readable. Remember, it’s impossible for an audience to read text on a PowerPoint and listen to speech that doesn’t match that text.
- Consider using one of our PowerPoint templates.
- A microphone should be used to produce good sound quality and volume.
- If recording a presentation done in front of a whiteboard, be aware of how much you block the writing.
- Videos should be concise. Best practices in online education are that videos should be less than 6 minutes long. If a video needs to be longer, then the information should be chunked across a few shorter videos.
- Videos must meet design and delivery standards.
- Include a short explanation about why the video is being assigned. When we assign YouTube or TED Talk videos, we preface the video with a short explanation about why this is a good resource. The same should be done here. What makes the presenter a good resource, how the student will use the content, what points to look out for, etc.
Ultimately, as with all course content, videos must meet our standards to be used in our courses.