Creating Engaging Video

Videos that come alive

When considering adding video to your course, ask yourself: “How will this support my learning outcomes?” No matter how many explosions, car chases, or jump cuts you add to capture a student’s attention, video without thoughtful instructional design can be more effort than it’s worth.

Video assets face unique obstacles as instructional media. Video watching is passive learning. Sure, maybe you make a super video using cats sitting on different parts of a merry-go-round, and students may agree with you that it’s a great video and assert that now they totally understand tangential velocity (and also really appreciate the use of cats). But how do you make sure that learning sticks?

Videos need friction. Don’t just present information. Challenge the way a student thinks about information. Make them question what preconceived notions they bring to a subject so that they’re compelled to consider that subject in a new light.

Watch this video below to learn about four approaches:

Four approaches

Here are those four approaches that can assist you in creating instructionally engaging video:

(1) “Relate”: Usually presented earlier in the course, this is the “Why?” video. Why are you teaching this course instead of someone else? Why does it matter to you? Why is a student taking this course? Have they reflected on that? And perhaps most importantly, why is this course worthwhile? Introduce the topic, outline expectations, and make the course feel accessible and inclusive. When students are personally invested in material, they’re often more successful.

(2) “Narrate”: Students are more likely to remember narratives than concepts. So, tell them a story. Or relay a case study. Or a personal anecdote. Students value your experience and expertise, so share away!

(3) “Demonstrate”: Tie videos to specific assignments or course objectives; students are much more likely to watch them! Consider the gap in knowledge that exists between your students and professionals in the field and try to close those gaps. Think real life application: physical demonstrations or tutorials, job-shadowing style videos, screencasts, etc.

(4) “Debate”: One way to make learning more effective is by challenging students. Be honest about the misconceptions, debates, and controversies in your subject, even if you don’t necessarily agree with the opposing side of the discussion. Presenting multiple modes of thinking forces students to parse through information and draw their own conclusions  reinforcing the important learning objectives. Inviting a guest to chat (colleague, student, subject matter expert) can help bring up some of those opposing viewpoints more naturally.

All research for this post comes from Amy Ahearn’s “Beyond Videos: 4 Ways Instructional Designers Can Craft Immersive Educational Media.” The link to her article can be found at the bottom of the post. Read more here:

Quick tip:

Need help figuring out what kind of video would work for your course?

We’re here to help! UCLA Extension has three Video Producer/Directors eagerly waiting to answer all your questions. Hit us up with any of your video questions (including consultations, shooting assistance, Panopto training, and checking out equipment/studio space). Feel free to schedule an appointment with any of us here:

–Hannah Sutherland, Producer/Director at UCLA Extension