Videos in teaching

A common element to teaching online involves the use of videos.  At face value this may seem like a reasonably straightforward process but providing a quality video resource actually involves a great deal more thinking.  Apart from obvious technical questions around ‘How do I do it?’, two other important questions to ask are:

  1. What is the purpose of the video resource?
  2. How long should the video be?
  1. What is the purpose of the video resource?
    Videos can be used in many different ways to achieve a wide variety of educational objectives. Before you embark on creating your video resource, it is important to first identify the purpose. Below is a list of some of the common ways that videos are used within educational settings:
    • replace face-to-face lectures
    • include a welcome video at the beginning of a topic
    • provide a visual description of a complex or abstract concept (e.g. cellular immune responses)
    • demonstrate a technique (e.g. how to create an artistic effect on a canvas)
    • answer student FAQs (e.g. record a Collaborate session that includes some participants, for the benefit of missing participants)
    • describe a case study, with or without video footage (e.g. from within a classroom)
    • promote topic engagement through interactivity (e.g. creating videos with hotspots that students can click on to learn more)
    • maintain your teaching presence, weekly or semi-regularly throughout the teaching period. Content may include instructions, feedback, thank you messages, encouragement or advertising support services
    • provide complex assessment instructions
    • as a component of assessment.

Being acutely aware of the intended purpose of a video helps guide decisions around factors such as:

    • how much time will be required to prepare the content prior to creating the recording
    • presentation style e.g. formal or casual
    • the need to incorporate material that may be copyrighted (the implication here is that the video should not be made downloadable).

Depending on what students will be doing with the video will also inform whether your commentary is comprised of statements, questions, hints, reminders, suggestions etc. Think about what you are asking students to do with the video, such as:

    • passively watching or listening
    • actively participating (e.g. asking or posting questions that will be recorded, undertaking virtual tours)
    • thinking, reflecting, linking, analysing, summarising and so on.
  1. How long should the video be?
    Once you have determined the purpose of your educational video, you will need to consider how long it should be. Although much of the popular commentary on this matter seems to advocate 5-6 minutes, this is not so straightforward.
    • First, as discussed above, different videos have different purposes, and therefore do not necessarily need to be the same length.
    • Second, there tends to be an overinterpretation of published literature. As an example, several studies have cited the findings of others in regard to the optimal length of video lectures. Closer inspection of the literature indicates a lack of clear evidence in award courses in higher education that can be used to clearly identify an ideal length for educational videos (see Doolittle et al (2015), Giannakos et al (2015), Guo et al (2014), Giannakos et al (2016), Lawlor & Donolly (2010) and Pi & Hong (2016)).  Therefore, context and purpose should always be used as a guide.
    • Third, please be mindful that as your video becomes longer so too will its size. The larger it becomes, the longer it will take for you to upload to your topic as well as for students to download.

What this means for your practice
Creating videos for teaching can help engage students in learning, helps to create social presence and communicate using the ‘teacher voice’ and should proceed with a good understanding of the purpose. In many respects, making evidence-based decisions about things such as optimal video length is not always possible. If you would like to share what works or doesn’t work in your teaching practice, please consider posting in the Sharing teaching practice forum.  

Written by Dr Cheryl Schelbach
Learning Designer – CILT

Doolittle, P. E., Bryant, L. H., & Chittum, J. R. (2015). Effects of degree of segmentation and learner disposition on multimedia learning. British Journal of Educational Technology46(6), 1333-1343.

Giannakos, M. N., Krogstie, J., & Aalberg, T. (2016). Video-based learning ecosystem to support active learning: application to an introductory computer science course. Smart Learning Environments3(1), 11.

Guo, P. J., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014, March). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. In Proceedings of the first ACM conference on Learning@ scale conference (pp. 41-50).

Lawlor, B., & Donnelly, R. (2010). Using podcasts to support communication skills development: A case study for content format preferences among postgraduate research students. Computers & education54(4), 962-971.

Pi, Z., & Hong, J. (2016). Learning process and learning outcomes of video podcasts including the instructor and PPT slides: A Chinese case. Innovations in Education and Teaching International53(2), 135-144.

Posted in
Ed tech

Leave a Reply