In the online learning environment, instructional videos can go a long way in enhancing student understanding, building community, and creating lasting learning experiences. There is no shortage of research pointing to the impact of educational media (Hibbert, 2014 and Choi & Johnson, 2005, among others), and while the options for creating or obtaining content in the 21st century can be overwhelming, they certainly don’t have to be.  

Here are some tips for finding and creating media in your online or face-to-face course.

Make it yourself

Perhaps the easiest way to obtain relevant content for your course is to make it yourself. This is easier than you might think, and getting in front of a camera doesn’t have to be intimidating. Make a screencast from the comfort of your office or home. Just make sure that your face is well lit, plan what you’re going to say so that you don’t ramble, and speak clearly. Kaltura Personal Capture makes this process extremely easy. Here’s a good example of a screencast created by Peter Fix, Associate Professor in the UAF School of Natural Resources and Extension. Give UAF eCampus a call if you need to borrow a high-quality webcam and microphone.  

Another way to create professional content is to use one of eCampus’s two media studios. Simply submit our media request form to get started. We offer a variety of video types, from interviews and Learning Glass presentations to greenscreen demonstrations. You can view a complete taxonomy of educational videos produced by eCampus. Whichever style you choose, make the content your own. Ask yourself what makes your expertise on the subject unique. You might find it helpful to start small in the studio; that is, begin by creating a short introductory video to you. What are your interests? Why did you choose to study a particular topic? What makes your course special? Not only will students appreciate it, but it will give you necessary practice in presenting on-camera. It’s helpful to create either a script or an outline to guide your presentation. Once you’ve done it, the environment of bright lights, cameras, and microphones will seem much more surmountable. Here are some more tips on how to be a pro in the studio.  

In addition to providing studio support and guidance, eCampus offers post-production editing services, wherein we can add engaging elements like diagrams, animations, and text inserts.  

Find it

Another option to putting media in your course is to find it. Sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and even textbook publisher websites are rife with educational content. Some might even correspond directly with the chapters in your textbook. Other useful options include Amazon Education, Khan Academy, Brightstorm, and TED talks. While these resources are abundant, there are some things to be aware of when searching for them.

First, make sure you scrutinize the entire video. Make sure it’s relevant, appropriate, and effective. Some videos are well-made but just too long. Students won’t watch a half-hour video that you pull from YouTube, so err on the side of finding concise media. Lengths between one and ten minutes are perfect.  

Second, try and find media resources that include Closed Captioning (CC). It’s much easier to utilize existing captions for a video or audio resource than it is to have to create them later on.  

Finally, rather than just linking to the video resource directly from your LMS, try and download the video or bring it into Kaltura using the YouTube Page Link button. Mozilla Firefox also has a handy YouTube Downloader plugin for downloading videos to your computer, and there are other browser plugins that let you download from other sites, as well. Especially for students in low bandwidth areas, downloadable videos are a must-have.

Whatever you choose to do for media in your course, always keep the students in mind. Is the resource contributing to their learning experience? Is it reinforcing key concepts? Is it providing fresh perspectives on a topic? Ask yourself these questions as you plan to create your own media or search for outside sources. Students will appreciate your diligence and care.  

Further Reading:

Choi, H. J., & Johnson, S. D. (2005). The effect of context-based video instruction on learning and motivation in online courses (PDF). The American Journal of Distance Education, 19 (4), 215-227.

Hibbert, M. C. (2014). What Makes an Online Instructional Video Compelling?. Educause Review Online.

Download the PDF for this Teaching Tip

Joseph Jackson

Joe Jackson, B.Sc., is the Media Studio Production Designer at UAF eCampus. He hopes to use his perspective as both a former student and current media professional to enhance online teaching and learning at UAF.

Media Producer