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Tips for Creating Videos

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Videos are the best way to capture your students’ attention. Your virtual presence in an online course is just as important as your physical presence in a face-to-face course. Instructor presence is a key factor in student retention, engagement and success in an online course.

1. Keep it Short

Keep your videos between five to eight minutes long. Keeping the videos short helps students consume lectures in small bites, similar to reading chapters of a book. It also helps students refer to a particular topic for review, especially if the instructor organizes the videos with titles or video thumbnails. Remember, you don't have to make a 50-minute video simply because you are used to lecturing face-to-face for 50 minutes. Part of that time is used for reviewing previous topics, questions and discussions. All of those extra interactions occur elsewhere in an online course. If you are used to lecturing in 50-90 minute increments, find natural pauses or breaks in your material and break the large video into pieces. It's okay to have 15 or 20 videos for one topic.


2. Show your Personality

There are some students who truly enjoy getting to know their instructors. Create a short bio video, fill out your profile, or post a picture of yourself to help the students get to know you better. When you create video lectures, do not edit out your cheesy jokes or endearing quirks that show glimpses of your personality. You create an authenticity for your students and to the course when you provide information about yourself. This is invaluable to distance learners who want to create real connections with their instructors.


3. Think about Accessibility

Canvas has many built-in accessibility features to make your videos as accessible as possible. However, poor video quality can hinder even the most efficient assistive technologies. Have bright lighting, excellent sound with minimal echoing or muffling, speak slow and clearly, and make sure all of your videos have the option for closed captioning. Recording yourself lecturing at a whiteboard or in front of a class can sometimes make it difficult for students to hear or see you clearly. You may also remind your students they can speed up or slow down the speed at which the video plays to match their liking.


4. Switch up the Visuals 

There isn't a right or wrong style for how your video is made. It is perfectly acceptable to use PowerPoint slides or to record your floating head (the instructor in front of a camera where you only see shoulders and head). The key to making the video interesting is to switch up what the viewer sees.


Switch from the floating head to the PowerPoint then to large images, graphs or text annotations as you talk. If you are showing an image, use a slow zoom option to make the visual a bit more dynamic. Switching the visuals within a single video is important, but switching the style of video among a group of video lectures is equally as important. Go to a new location to record a lecture, conduct interviews with content experts, or hold a live webinar and post the recording for those who could not attend. Additionally, make sure your videos are updated every three years to make sure your course remains current and accurate.


5. Incorporate Interaction 

How many times have you asked a question to your face-to-face class just to have students stare at you in silence? Sometimes students just don't want to talk, but that does not mean they are not learning. When you make an online video, pretend you have a room full of students and ask questions just as you would in a face-to-face course. Ask them what they think about a topic and then provide a couple seconds for them to think about it. Ask a multiple-choice question in the beginning of the video, and then provide the answer at some point later in the video.


But the absolute best way to ensure students are watching your videos is to include new and original information in the video and insert that information on assessments or activities. If you just summarize information students can get from the internet or a textbook they will not watch the video. You could provide fill-in-the-blank notes to accompany the videos. Create an activity or assignment where students will not know the answers unless they watch the video. Students are more likely to watch the videos if it directly relates to their overall success in the course.

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