Teaching with Videos

Videos are one of many tools we can use in our teaching in any modality, but now that many of us are teaching remote or online courses, we may be using them more than we ever thought we would. When faculty first start teaching with videos, there are a few technical hills to climb: We need to know how to use certain hardware and software, and how to plan, record, and edit our videos and share them with students. Most importantly, we need to think about what and how our videos will help students learn.

Of course, videos can’t replace class sessions. They are components of a course, not the whole course, and not everything we do in a classroom works well as a video. Watching videos is usually a passive experience for students. Thus, videos can be a good introduction to new information, or a good way to include a story, an example, a demonstration, or different perspectives in a class, but they need to be combined (or embedded) with activities for students to take on an active role and build on the foundational knowledge presented in the video.

Videos can be used for a variety of instructional purposes. Just as our goals for students’ learning drive all of our course design decisions, the same is true for the decisions we make about when and how to use videos. Here are a few ways we might use them in our teaching:

  • As recorded mini-lectures. Professor A teaches an asynchronous online course. He uses 5- to 10-minute videos to explain and illustrate concepts and give examples. Students work through weekly modules in which they 1) do some reading, 2) watch short videos followed by activities, and 3) take a quiz at the end of the module. Every 3-4 modules, they also have an exam.
  • To introduce and explain projects. Professor B teaches a synchronous remote course in which students spend the last month doing a major project. To launch the project, she makes a video in which she gives an overview of the assignment, explaining what students will do, what they will learn through the process of doing it, and how it will be evaluated at the end. She also provides a written assignment description. Students appreciate the clarity the video provides, as well as Professor B’s enthusiasm. The details in the written description are also helpful because students can refer back to it for guidelines and due dates throughout the multi-step project.
  • To give feedback to an individual or group. Professor C teaches a face-to-face course in which students do most of their learning through problem solving. Scanning through some recent homework, he notices that students are often making similar mistakes in the way they go about trying to solve a certain type of problem. He makes a video to address these common issues, through explanation and demonstration, and also shows students ways to check and correct their own work. In this way, he uses video to provide feedback to the whole class, then he gives students an opportunity to apply what they have learned from the video, either by revising their own work, or by solving a new but similar problem.
  • To summarize or reflect. Professor D teaches a synchronous remote course. For the first three weeks, she makes brief videos after class, in which she summarizes the key points from the discussion and activities. Then, she posts these videos on Canvas. For the remaining weeks, she asks students to make these summary videos instead. It is a small participation assignment through which they earn points, but more importantly, it helps reinforce (and reveal) what they have learned. When students post their summary video, their peers can respond, asking questions or adding any key points the video makers may have missed.

For additional ideas about how to use videos in your teaching, you can explore this guide to using videos as an instructional strategy. Here are a few additional tips and best practices for teaching with videos:

  • Keep them short. Research on cognitive theory for multimedia learning (CTML) shows that short videos are preferable to long ones. Seven minutes is a good goal, although you might go a few minutes in either direction. If you have long videos you’ve already recorded and still want to use, you can try breaking them into shorter videos, dividing them into chapters on Kaltura , or breaking them up with pauses, summaries, quiz questions, or activities.
  • Incorporate interaction. Whether before, during, or after students watch videos, including interaction helps make learning active rather than solely passive. In the examples above, we shared a few ways instructors can use a combination of videos and other teaching methods to facilitate learning in a course in any modality. You can also embed quiz or clicker questions into videos themselves.
  • Make a plan in advance. Even those of us who can improvise wonderfully in the classroom may find that improvising doesn’t work as well on video. Making a plan in advance about the points you want to make, in what order, with what examples and illustrations, etc. is almost always necessary. You can create an outline, a storyboard, a script, or use other methods that work for you.
  • Get support with the tools. To feel confident about teaching with videos, you might need support or advice regarding hardware (e.g., cameras, microphones), software (e.g., Kaltura, Zoom, PowerPoint, OneNote), editing tools, accessibility tools, etc. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to ODL or ITS, or explore their resources online, such as these ones on using Kaltura.

If you would like support in using videos as an instructional strategy in a course of any modality, please contact us at pro-teaching@fsu.edu or attend our upcoming workshop advertised below. We look forward to working with you!


Teaching with Videos Workshop

Friday, October 2nd | 10:30 – 12:00 on Zoom | Sign up to attend

Are you new to teaching with videos? Or would you like to enhance the way you use videos you’ve already made? Please join us for a hands-on workshop, in which we will discuss how videos can be incorporated into any course for a variety of instructional purposes, and how to make (or find existing) effective and engaging videos. With student learning goals in mind, participants will determine what kinds of videos they would like to use in their teaching; how they might plan, create, edit, and share those videos; and what kinds of interactions will help students retain and use what they learn by watching.