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Day 2: What makes a good educational video?

What makes a good educational video?

A woman watches a video on her laptop.In today’s post, we are going to look at some of the research into how video can be an effective learning tool for higher education, and address some of the qualities of effective educational videos. Yesterday we discussed the overall trend for video to be used as a catch-all replacement for lectures or other content delivery. According to Thomson et al. (2014), this type of use within universities mean that videos are often not as effective as they could be, because they do not take full advantage of the medium to be as effective as possible. This is difficult, of course, as most teaching staff are not trained in video production! But today we will look at exploring a few of the key issues around using video in teaching.

What learning outcomes does the video address?

As with all things related to teaching, the key factor to think about when deciding to use video is what learning outcome or educational goal are you trying to achieve? Is video the right method to accomplish this? The key affordance of video is that it lets you show the viewer something – this is its key advantage over other modes of delivery.


What sorts of topics, learning outcomes, or educational goals might a video suit? When is it not appropriate to use a video? Give an example from your own teaching practice where you think a video might be the best approach to explaining a particular topic.

According to Bates (2015), video are not particularly suited for helping students to develop critical thinking skills, apply knowledge, or foster deep understanding in a topic, and in these cases it needs to be supplemented with activities that allow students to discuss, apply, and engage in more depth. We’ll come back to how to incorporate video into learning designs and teaching plans in Part 2 of the video series in September.

What sort of production quality is required?

There is some debate as to the impact of production quality (such as sound, lighting, editing, resolution, presentation skills, and so on) on educational outcomes for students. The value of production depends on the context and the audience. A quick and short video filmed in a dark room with a webcam can add value in cases where an efficient response or comment is needed “on-the-go”. For example, these quick videos contributed to the “How to Survive Your PhD” MOOC offered in 2015 from ANUx by PhD students are all filmed in the student’s own homes (or gardens!) without any expertise in production, but offer an authentic and personal touch to a course with 13,000 students. For the same course, the promotional video advertising the MOOC was filmed by ANU’s in-house media team using professional lighting and staff. (Watch out for my supporting role as “student”!)

Hansch et al (2015, p. 12) make the following point:

“Since there is little substantive evidence to suggest that higher production values lead to superior learning outcomes, there seems to be little reason why online learning videos are always filmed by professionals, using high-end recording equipment in full studios. In many cases, opting for a lightweight or DIY production process is a great way to achieve pedagogical objectives while at the same time reducing cost.”

Using more efficient DIY methods means the effort and cost per video is low, and makes them easier to update or revise in the future. We’ll look specifically at recording yourself and storyboarding in Part 2 of the course.

How long should they be?

It’s very common for many academic videos to be recordings of lectures of an hour or more. But most research into average viewing time for videos is around 4-6 minutes! (Hibbert, 2014; Guo et al., 2014) Meeting a time limit like this is a challenge for many academics, who are used to extended periods of time for lectures or presentations. Where a video differs from these types of face-to-face modes of delivery is that it is possible to edit out silence, mistakes, coughs, or repetition in the presentation. This helps make videos more concise and succinct. (This is common practice on YouTube, where jump cuts are used to improve the pace of videos.)

Another key strategy to consider when using video is chunking ideas into separate videos, rather than trying to fit everything into one. We discussed this concept of chunking in our previous course on Enhancing Lectures as a way to avoid cognitive overload.

Engaging educational videos

“Homework”. CC BY-NC 2.0.

Videos can add a lot to a course in terms of social and teacher presence and provide a new perspective into a topic, but “…Delivering content clearly on video requires a different set of skills than those required for classroom teaching.” (Hansch et al., 2015, p. 8) Preparation, scripting, storyboarding, and editing are all essential, and we will cover all of these in detail in future posts and in Part 2 of the course.

So before you record yourself speaking informally about a topic and put it into your course, think quickly about what you are trying to achieve. “In cases where video is indeed the right choice of medium, we encourage a critical choice of video production style (i.e. the method of visual organisation that is employed to realize a video’s goals) that is appropriate for the pedagogical objectives and the desire learning outcomes.” (Hansch et al 2015: 11) This choice could be a DIY response video to a student question, or it could be a more structured presentation with animations or screen recording.

So what are the features of a good video?

Let’s review what we covered yesterday and today:

  • It is the right mode of delivery for the material and makes sense within the learning outcomes of the course
  • The production value is appropriate for the context
  • It is succinct and well-planned
  • It communicates clearly, demonstrates enthusiasm, and tries to engage the audience
  • Takes advantage of the affordances of video for replay, experiencing new things, and social presence
  • Considers accessibility and inclusion


  • Tell us about a part of your course that you think might work well as a video. Why? What would using a video add? What learning outcomes are you addressing, and what mode of production would suit?
  • What do you think of the 4-6 minute guideline for video length?
  • What level of production quality do you think is needed? Should we aim for studio-quality productions or have you found DIY approaches to be acceptable? Why or why not?

We would love your comment to be in the form of a video! (There are some quick guidelines here (PDF) on recording yourself that were created for Echo360 Personal Capture, but can be applied to any format.)


36 thoughts on “Day 2: What makes a good educational video?

  1. I think the most productive way of using a video is as an additional medium for delivering the content of a subject. I would prefer to do this so to avoid repeating the content of a book in a lecture room. I see no difference between a talking head in a video and a talking “body” in a lecture room. And if it is done so, it would free the time in the lecture room to do things more interactively, to motivate and to apply the knowledge to solve problems.

    According to my own experience as a student, the 4-6 minutes guideline can work very well for most of the cases. Of course, some subjects will need more time, and I have followed educational videos of more than 40 minutes without a problem. If a subject is a difficult concept, we simply need more time to explain.

    I also don’t think we need to have only one quality format during a course. Actually, I think much more compelling a course where we have studio quality videos mixed with more amateur and intimate videos than course given in a single format.

    1. Yes, I agree with you, Claudio, in regards to both the quality of the video production and the timeframe used. Some low-budget productions can achieve a sense of spontaneity and intimacy which can be lost in a high-budget production. This is, of course, dependent upon the energy of the person conveying the message. We had the discussion yesterday, as to whether we prefer to learn from a book/text or video, and I have thought at times when watching some high-budget videos, which have a teacher who appears robotic and devoid of any vitality, that I would prefer to read the content of that video, than watch it.
      In regards to the timeframe, again it depends on so many things: for instance, the type of information [I was appreciative of brief videos when doing a statistics course but I loved longer ones when the course was philosophy]; and how well the subject matter is introduced, recapped throughout, and brought to a close also makes a difference for my learning – whether the video is brief or long. And the use of ‘signposting’ to demonstrate the relationship between what I might be currently learning, with what might have been in a previous video, or will be in a future video, are also features which are important to me when I’m an online-video-learner.
      I was curious to read in today’s posting that Bates (2015) suggests that video is ‘not particularly suited’ for ‘critical thinking’ or ‘deep understanding’. I have not read the article linked to that comment yet, but at this point I would say my experience is contrary to what Bates suggests. After all, we can always replay a video or pause it to reflect on the content – something that is not possible in a live-teaching/lecture environment. Nor is it desirable to explore the literature to develop a deeper understanding of the subject-matter during a live-lecture. Of course, we can always follow-up on a matter after a class but I know I have not always done so. But if I am learning online with a video, I tend to pause it and do further research, there and then, online or by looking something up in my books. I find this enables a deeper level of understanding and more critical thinking than is possible in a live teaching/lecture environment. That said, I appreciate that these features cater to the type of learner I am and that other learners respond more favourably to other features and learning environments. This may be addressed by Bates – I will have a look!
      Cheers, Catherine

      1. Hi Catherine, thanks for your thoughtful response. You have made two very interesting and important points. The idea of signposting is very useful – as you say, to link to previous material, but also I think it could be useful to show viewers how it relates to the outcomes they need to achieve. The other great point is your query re Bates’ assertion. I agree with you about the opportunity for deeper learning afforded by pausing a video and reflecting, taking notes and noting any queries you may have. So thanks for both those great points!

  2. 4 to 6 minutes sounds pretty right to me. When I look at the statistics on my echo 360 recordings, it’s clear that students start skipping ahead at about the five-minute mark. If I’m honest, when I’m watching an educational video, I get restless at about the three-minute mark! I know I also leave videos running while I find other things to do in my office.
    In relation to my teaching, I was thinking that short videos (5 minutes max) featuring dialogue in the languages that I teach would probably make a nice break from me speaking or reading. Because I teach Classical languages, there aren’t as many of these resources available for me as there are for modern languages. But I wonder if production quality would be a barrier to learning (I don’t mind students laughing at my jokes, but if I’m not trying to be funny… well…). So the pdf guidelines were helpful (thanks!). I’m also wondering if the answer might be to deliberately scale down the production quality to suit purpose (Blair Witch-style) and to that end, your first video links (How to Survive your PhD) were also helpful.

  3. Hi! I’ve decided to share some comments via video… This is a difficult task for me.

    (and in case the iframe doesn’t work – the link is here:

    I forgot to mention that I think short videos are really useful for giving introductions to concepts, that you can then elaborate on later.

    This is the link to an RSA Animate video I mention –

    1. Hi Lauren! I really enjoyed listening to your video – Well done! It was very clear; and thanks for showing the difference between ‘looking at the screen’ vs ‘looking at the camera’. It does make a huge difference!
      Thank you for the link to a very interesting RSA Animate video on the evolution – or rather the deterioration – of Education. Really fascinating video and although it was a longer one than normally advised, it did manage to keep my interest and engagement. All the best! Eleonora

      1. Hi Lauren,
        I loved your video very much! I think you have a great and natural presentation style and that the quality of the video and audio was excellent. Thanks for pointing out that you used an iPhone – it’s good to know that you can get such good quality from a phone. That RSA Animate video was great! And I noticed it had 18 million views – obviously the tolerance for longer length is there when the video has an engaging presentation to watch. I have tried a tool that makes videos like that before, called Videoscribe:
        It’s pretty fun to use (though I only did the trial).

    2. Hi Lauren, great self-produced video, an excellent example of how it is possible to introduce a topic, tease out an issue etc in a brief video you produce yourself. You make some excellent points – a valuable contribution to this discussion.

      Regarding your comment on it being preferable to watch someone doing something than watching them talk about it, this is absolutely the case. You use animations, which is a very engaging way to demonstrate something that requires a visual demonstration. We hope to have a coffee course some time in the future around animations for engagement and instruction. Regarding your example of explaining a maths concept, there are excellent whiteboard apps on mobiles now where a maths teacher can show their workings while explaining – we provide an example of this in tomorrow’s coffee course session.

      You will find that not everyone agrees with your assertion that higher quality production will be more engaging for most people, as you will see from some of the comments on this post. However your point about the sound quality is very important. If the sound is muffled or hard to hear, this will make the video practically useless. Also at the extremes, quality can be a problem, if it is very poor.

  4. I use videos to explain a core concept to students. It is an important part of my teaching because it allows me to gauge their understanding in lectures and practicals as we apply the concept. I found this is a better way for both the students and teacher to see where students find difficulties with understanding, as instead of them hearing the concept only once buried in a long lecture and then trying to ‘dig it up’ by re-listening a long ECHO recording, I provide them with the digestible 5-6 min videos, which are appropriately titled and easily searchable in their library so more likely will be used and re-used before they attend the lecture or the practical sessions. In addition, this is a lasting resource that they can re-visit before exam time, or at times they need a refresher.
    I use the Khan style teaching because that allows me to draw/sketch or annotate an image (apart from the fact that I don’t like to be on photos or videos). My discipline is very visual, so these type of videos are well suited for it.
    I strongly agree with the time limit. Have to admit it is not a very easy thing to stick with, but I found it is more effective. I had responses from students when I asked them if they watched the video prior to the class: “I started, but it went for too long and it was already late at night so I gave up”. Seeing that it will take them less than 5 min to learn something new, and important is easier to handle for the students. Admittedly I myself become fidgety if something goes on too long and found myself losing concentration, which means that I have to go back again and again, taking even longer to listen.
    Regarding the quality of recordings: Our rare talking head videos are shot with a handheld home camera, with multiple takes and minimal post-production. My tutorial videos I create with my iPad at home or at work finding a quiet corner, using a $4-5 software (Vittle) that can then send the video to my computer, where I use iMovie to post-edit (cutting spaces, hmmm’s or repeats out) and save it at a resolution level that can be watched on smaller and bigger computers/tablets alike. The longest time in the production is the ‘rendering’ of the final product, but this is when you can either have coffee, tea or just answer emails… Typically the shooting and transferring of video takes me around 30min, as I create my storyboard in my head by now.

    1. Thanks Krisztina for sharing your process for making instructional/conceptual videos. It sounds like you have the process down to an easy set of steps using inexpensive but effective software, and that you have had excellent results in terms of learning outcomes – lucky students!

  5. * What sorts of topics, learning outcomes, or educational goals might a video suit?

    Apart from the obvious of being able to show physical skills, such as how to swing a golf club or hold an instrument, video doesn’t suit particular learning.

    * When is it not appropriate to use a video?

    First of all where the student doesn’t have access to video, due to technical, economic limitations, or disability it is not appropriate to use video. Apart from limited bandwidth, some video services are blocked in some countries.

    Also I worry about the use of recordings of live lectures as a form of ad-hoc e-learning.

    At the other end of the scale, glossy looking videos with a lot spent on production is not appropriate if they do not address actual educational needs.

    * Give an example from your own teaching practice where you think a video might be the best approach to explaining a particular topic.

    I don’t think there are any situations where video is “best”. However, it is a useful option where you want to demonstrate a manual technique, or show something the student could not easily view themselves first-hand. An example in my previous posting was a video of energy saving equipment at a data center. I could take students on a tour of a data center, but a video is logistically a lot easier.

    * Tell us about a part of your course that you think might work well as a video.

    What I have done over the last few years is trim the recommended readings from courses and add one or two videos per week. Ideally the videos are not of me, but of leaders in the field or from respected organizations.

    * Why? What would using a video add?

    Making good video is a time consuming task. So far, no educational institution has been willing to fund me to develop quality videos. So instead I find already prepared videos. As an example, a video by Professor Garnaut on his climate change report, or a video from Google on their data center. Ironically, some educators use videos of *me* in their courses, when I don’t use them in mine.

    * What learning outcomes are you addressing, and what mode of production would suit?

    The videos are just supplementary and do not change the learning outcomes. As it says in the notes, the production quality doesn’t really matter. For the ANU EdX courses I suggested producing high quality BBC documentary style promotional videos, but not worrying so much about the quality of the videos within the courses. This was done and seemed to work well.

    * What do you think of the 4-6 minute guideline for video length?

    This matches my experience as an on-line student. But the videos should be embedded in a chunk of learning with reading and activities. On its own a video is not much use, regardless of length.

    * What level of production quality do you think is needed?

    As discussed above, high production values are needed for the marketing videos, but not the actual educational ones.

    It needs to be kept in mind that making quality videos is very expensive. If producing a traditional distance education course which is to be run for years to hundreds of thousands of students the cost can be amortized, but not for ad-hoc courses with a few hundred students.

    * We would love your comment to be in the form of a video!

    But that is hard as I am sitting in a conference at Old Parliament House. I guess I could do slides.

    More seriously, when asking students to make a video, it needs to be kept in mind they are mostly not sitting in quiet private offices. Even under ideal circumstances it will take them many times the length of the finished length of the video to prepare it. The 90 second video I prepared for the ANU Grand Challenge took about four hours to prepare material for and two hours to produce. That had no live recording, just slides.

  6. Like Tom, I m much happier including bits and pieces of other people’s video material in my course than making videos myself. I will select them because they explain something better than I think I can, present some particularly clever animation or analogy, are presented by a key thinker in the field, or simply because they add some variety of delivery type (and possibly appealing to broader learning styles) to the course material. I am happy with this (although I did have a negative student reaction, claiming he/she could watch the videos in his/her own and does not need to be paying course fees for it…).

    I really dislike simply “recorded lectures” . And I am getting a bit of support for that dislike here. But my students seem to want recoded lecture videos. Doing the high quality thing is certainly out of my reach , but I can’t see much value in investing there anyway. Perhaps I do need to invest in some editing skills like the jump-cuts for some attempt at improving the quality from a low base.

    So what video should I focus on recording? I am heading more and more towards short topic overviews (maybe both at beginning and end, with the end focusing on key points ) plus practical worked examples, which are an important part of the course. With the latter, I still have a lot of hesitation about the problem-solving activities when software is used (because I need the students to think, not to blindly copy), but perhaps overviews of software tools to start with might be helpful (these are really slow to make, though, because you always make mistakes, and you need to re-calibrate back to a starting position to re-do the bit where the mistake occurred).

    All these things could be in the 4-6 minute time frame. I will make sure it is!

    Sorry — this is not a video — I insist on taking a well-earned break from video recordings right now!

  7. What sorts of topics, learning outcomes, or educational goals might a video suit? When is it not appropriate to use a video? Give an example from your own teaching practice where you think a video might be the best approach to explaining a particular topic.
    I think videos are great for explaining complicated concepts from another angle or as a hook to engage. For example, if the lecture was about personalised medicine, you could show a video of Angelina Jolie in action, and then talk about how she made the controversial decision to have a double mastectomy because she found out she carries the BRCA1 gene. I think videos that are just talking heads are less appropriate because, as others have said, videos can be distracting and people can skip ahead etc., so I think using them sparingly and for a specific objective might be most effective.

    Tell us about a part of your course that you think might work well as a video. Why? What would using a video add? What learning outcomes are you addressing, and what mode of production would suit?
    As per the above, I will be using the Angelina Jolie example in a lecture next year about the ethics of personalised medicine. I think using a video here could work well to engage students and perhaps get them to relate. I would opt to use a clip from youtube rather than making a video myself.

    What do you think of the 4-6 minute guideline for video length?
    I think under 5 minutes is probably most ideal for attention spans.

    What level of production quality do you think is needed? Should we aim for studio-quality productions or have you found DIY approaches to be acceptable? Why or why not?
    I think either would work, depending on the message that the teacher is trying to get across. I’m personally a bit of a stickler for details and so shaky cameras and weird close-ups would detract from the main message for me!

  8. Angela, videos can be powerful, perhaps at times too much so and we need to keep in mind the effect on students. My niece, Elise Worthington, is an ABC journalist and won a Walkley award for her story “Facing hereditary cancer and its agonising choices”. This is a very powerful and personal story, which would be useful in education. However, we need to consider what impact such videos may have on individual students and be ready with support for them. Elise’s story is at

  9. I think it would be great if some portable studio equipment provided so that a lecturer could make a video when presenting in front of audience rather than making video in studio. I think lecturers usually get energy from the audience that improve the quality of lecture. This videos could be used as a source for students in next semester, to prepare themselves with the topic.
    However, I think 4-6 min is enough for videos taken in studios to avoid make it boring , and longer is appropriate when taking videos in classroom for future use.
    I think following items would be good choices for preparing videos:
    – Induction of using a specific machine
    – Solving problems
    – Short describing a phenomena
    – Introducing a specific method
    – Short literature review
    I think professional videos definitely work better, however more costly and time consuming. So a proper balance should be applied. I think generally it is worthy to maintain high quality videos for teaching.

  10. Thanks again for a great day and Lauren for a very professional video response.
    I would love to make you a response but I would feel the need to ‘glam up’ so I don’t frighten you all and at the end of a long day I just don’t have it in me!

    I must say Tom I disagree with most of your responses, but then you contradict yourself as well. You seem to say very little can be taught with a video and then you talk about using experts on video.

    I teach a range of courses in law and would choose the right concept to achieve a particular leaning outcome. In particular I would look at threshold concepts students need to grasp but find difficult and use the video as a means of teaching those. A quick informal video is useful. We do have teaching movies that we use to stimulate activities but they probably don’t count….
    I agree and disagree on length – it depends on the reason for the video. I have been captured by really good lectures that go over 30 minutes and I have been inspired and actively engaged in critical thinking when watching TedTalks which go from 15 minutes on. I think there is no hard and fast rule and what will work and when.

    And I think you have misinterpreted Bates… the article does not say video is not suited it just says students need to be taught or guided when using it ..this is the same with text. Analytical/critical thinking is a skill in itself so video alone won’t ‘make it happen’…

  11. I think videos are well suited for demonstration, particularly of clinical skills in nursing. It think they are also useful as an adjunct to support key themes or concepts. For example, supporting a clinical skills demonstration with a patient vignette video to gain the patient perspective of the skill or experience is highly valuable to students.

    I teach a concept based bioscience unit and believe that video is a great way to engage students on key concepts that could be ‘chunked’ into short videos. I currently do this as a series of 3, 15-20 minute pre-recorded lectures. The students love this but do comment that they would like to see me. It think this would be helpful for engagement. I also add links to short videos such as Khan Academy and Handwritten Tutorials.

    Personally, I am a fan of the short video where possible and will provide links to videos that are generally less than 10 minutes in length. I agree however, that it can be difficult to explain concepts in such a short amount of time. Feedback from my students is that they find it relatively easy to engage when recordings are less than 30 minutes in length.

    I think a variation in production quality is appropriate. I have seen some great low cost videos recorded on a mobile phone and some really terrible high cost production videos as well and vice versa. I do find that some of the low cost videos appear more authentic and natural, allowing the present to share part of themselves with the audience. Having said that, I find shaky videos and those where there is a lot of movement (walking & talking) distracting.

    Thank you for such an interesting course so far! I am already onto ITM for some video software.

  12. Marianne, sorry that my comments on video were confusing. To clarify, I see video as useful where I want to demonstrate a physical skill, an object or situation, which the student could not easily experience first hand.

    However, video is not suited where interaction is required. For example, watching a video of someone flying an aircraft would be of very limited value to a trainee pilot: they need some form of simulator, or a real aircraft with an instructor.

    Video is also useful to see an instructor and get a sense of them as a person. A video of an expert speaking is also valuable.

    However, producing video is a resource intensive process.

  13. Earlier this year we conducted five sequential face to face Research Ready sessions and created a site for our supporting materials for participants review and for those who could not attend. The full workbook was supported through these 5 sessions and contained slides and video with our top tips:

    Feedback from a handful of participants was indicating this site was a very valuable resource and as the facilitators recorded the videos at the conclusion of training with their “top tips” it actually helped prompt themselves for what was to come in the next session.

    In regards to the activity above on a part of your course that you think might work well as a video would be the intro to NVivo workshop as currently it requires participants prereading (28 PowerPoint slides of theory) to understand concepts of Qual Data Analysis for NVivo. The plan was to add voiceover to PowerPoint slides but perhaps using the One Button studio with a few images behind the presenter could be developed or insert heavy text screens inbetween the talking head.

    The 4-6 minute guideline – my thoughts are:
    • IF interviewing with 2 people ie Question & Answering – you could use 6 minutes
    • IF single presenter perhaps 3 minutes more suitable due to viewers short attention span

    Production quality: the DIY can be more distracting if background is populated with “stuff” so if preparing a DIY I strongly suggest clear backdrop or cover/move distractions as I know I was distracted by some of the PhD students and looking at all the ‘stuff’ on the bookshelves!

    If paying for high quality production costs will be viewed by users as “a good or bad use of company/uni/govt funds” and may need to be justified.

  14. The elements that could be suited to video include:
    • course overviews and introductions; or summaries of sessions/course components
    • demonstration of a process eg use of a software tool or calculation using formulae
    • student reflections on readings or feedback student-student or lecturer-student on assessment pieces, or delivery of a presentation.
    I think video is probably less suitable for aspects of course delivery that rely on real-time iterative and interactive feedback for the development of skills or knowledge.

    Our library team recently created a companion site to a series of 5 Research skills sessions which incorporated video. The content was aimed at students who weren’t able to attend in person or for review by those who did. The weekly videos primarily provided an overview of what was covered in each section, top tips, and referred to specific sections of the workbook used throughout the duration of the program.

    Here’s my video response to the second activity questions

  15. I totally agree with the video needing to be fit for purpose and in so doing, this will affect how long it should run for and how professional it needs to be. When I teach communications, I often do some very rough videos in the CBE one button studio to illustrate how to do present ations. It’s deliberately “rough” to give it a realness feel.

    I’ve also used animation videos like what Lauren showed in her post from RSAnimate. Most of them are short, but I do find them useful – and just a different way to convey information. On one occassion, I even went on Fiver (a website where you can ask people to do things) and paid somebody $5 to do one for me. It was short and simple but for the cost quite good!

  16. I am the convenor for a language course, and I am embarking on redeveloping its online content. I have chosen pronunciation teaching for video specifically. It’s the content that requires you to hear the sound but also see the speaker (e.g. lip movement). It can also benefit from stills or animation illustrating how the articulators move inside your mouth.

    1. Hi Ksenia, great point. There are many great benefits for language teaching using technology because of the multimedia dimensions. I think in the most recent course (Technology in Teaching – there was a significant discussion in the comments around CALL (computer assisted language learning), which seems to have its own and somewhat distinct background and traditions compared to technology-enhanced learning more broadly. This might be a great avenue for us to explore more in the comments!

  17. When I was with the ANU College of Law, one of our academics teaching the JD Online created a video explaining the different parts of a legal letter thru a screencast. She had the letter open in Word on her screen and she recorded her voice explaining the parts of the letter and making annotations on the different parts/paragraphs.

    I believe this is an effective approach to tackle the said topic especially because JD Online is fully online and students don’t get face-to-face sessions. In this case you need to see the letter as you listen to annotations about it. Other visual cues are also helpful like the lecturer drawing arrows or encircling parts of the letter for emphasis. It’s also trying to “mirror” how it would be done in face-to-face — where usually the teacher would draw on the piece of paper and/or write on them while explaining.

  18. We have a lot of graph-drawing tasks in my tutorial for first-year students. We draw (demand and supply) curves then pay attention to specific areas or points. Sometimes we move along or shift the curve to analyze the changes. Students are allowed to take photos of the diagrams. But a lot of them could not remember how we reach the final solution. The learning objective of “being able to explain the whole mechanism” is not well-achieved.It might be more efficient if the tutors are allowed to provide a Khan-style animation video to the students.
    I also find the “tutorial” videos in music pieces helpful recently. Unlike the videos of those famous pianists, these tutorial videos are played in a very slow pace with scattered instructions on expressions.
    So in summary, it looks like that videos works better with “how-to” contents.

  19. I’ve touched on this in comments to another Coffee course, but i think its worthwhile referencing this example and going a bit further this time. Specifically, when I was debriefing an intensive course with students and talking through with them their suggestions on the next iteration of the course, we came to a really interesting point, namely that rather than sticking to a “pre-read” mode before each teaching session, there was a better way of doing this, namely having a suite of 4-6 short videos covering fundamental principles that could be posted and accessed by students prior to the course taking place, helping those with little prior knowledge beef up in the fundamentals before the course even started, and putting all students at an even keel from the get-go. My approach to this was also to consider that those videos could be produced and narrated by some of my phenomenal colleagues from across ANU and perhaps beyond, to show the diverse faces and profiles of academics (with a keen eye to having as diverse a range as possible spanning gender, age, accent, individual). This would send a strong message of pluralism – a key component to academia. Thanks to your tips, I even know that this would be possible using existing ANU resources such as at Chifley Library. Excited!!

  20. I think the 4-6 minute guideline is a good guideline in general. Even in face-to-face learning environments, keeping things bite-sized gives everyone a chance to process and evaluate. For students, this allows for comprehension, analysis, and possibly even application. For academics, it facilitates real-time feedback from the class in terms of whether they are following along. I try to avoid speaking at my students for long periods of time.

    I think the level of production quality really depends on the context. Raw and low-quality videos can be transformational. At the same time, I’m sure we all remember those terrible sex-ed videos from school. I guarantee that no one learnt anything from those videos, despite them embracing some of the best technology of the time, precisely because they were so corny.

  21. I think that the need for videos to be short is somewhat misleading – its about context and expectation. If I am watching an Instagram story my expectation is that it will be short therefor if it starts to go on longer than 60 seconds I get a bit antsy, but I quite happily watch an 18 minute TED talk, and will settle into a two hour documentary at night on the couch.

    There is a similar paradigm to video quality – watching someone talk into their phone camera for a few minutes can give you a real sense of authenticity – but watching someone give a stilted lecture with low production values I think is much more tedious. So lecture-esque content perhaps need to be augmented with high-quality visuals. The TED talk is an interesting reference again – it’s really only someone giving a lecture in front a power point, but generally, they are very engaging. Perhaps the problems with videos in academia is that people haven’t thought enough about making what they say really engaging in the first place. Perhaps we need to be mindful that technology is only as good as the content we are creating.

  22. If by video you mean a talking head, then I think that the applications in my teaching of medical science are fairly limited. Perhaps as an introductory clip talking about learning approaches, or instructions on how to go about a particular task, but otherwise the vast majority of content in my lectures really does require illustration of some sort. Perhaps the best use of a talking head alone would be to provide the background and medical context for a concept about to be taught. Teaching anatomy or physiology without using illustrations and graphs would be almost impossible. Adding props such as anatomical models or step by step drawings of physiological processes however, make video a good medium for teaching new concepts. Examples of this from my teaching might be the cellular processes involved in contraction of a muscle. The initial part could be an overview using a talking head, then a narrated animation or drawing of each of the steps involved. A talking head (perhaps with dot points) could again be used to sum up at the end.
    I think that the 4-6 minute guideline is achievable and could be presented as one chunk of a more extensive online lesson, as you’ve done here. In terms of production quality I am guessing that the talking head component could be fairly simple. Having said that though I think that adding text would make a teaching video much more effective, as a reinforcement for the key points. I’m not sure though that the effectiveness of a video lesson has to be tied to glossy post-production. As long as it’s well thought out and designed specifically for video, i.e. not just a video of someone giving a lecture, then it should be possible to engage the students without too many electronic bells and whistles.

  23. I think a video would be the perfect format to introduce art history students to techniques for visual analysis of works of art. Basic animation over a still image of a work could draw them to observe techniques such as composition, colour and so on, and subject. We tend to do these in lectures, between exposition, but it could be a useful resource for students to return to as they need it for writing assessment items. 4-6 minutes would be more than adequate and prevent it from getting bogged down in tangential details.

  24. I like the idea of chucking. This works well with the flipped mode. I agree with Kerry and Tom (see posts above), and prefer to source other videos at this stage rather than make my own, though I am exploring the possibility of videoing others. In the past I have used PPT to explain assignments, concepts, etc. Lately I have become interested in lightboards, which we are trialling here at iLEAP. I find the ability to note while talking is more effective for learning and visualising concepts and is a vast improvement on the PPT or lecture presentation. I also like this work from UQ, who recommends 5-7 mins for videos, but I think smaller snippets are also effective.

    1. Hi Emmaline, I’m very much a proponent of using existing videos wherever possible, and also sharing any of the ones I make myself as Creative Commons licensed (like the coffee course content!) so that it can be re-used and shared by others as well.

      How have you found using lightboards? I don’t have much experience with them myself but am curious about how they can be used!

  25. I teach in history. I often use video to show additional content, such as historical footage. I typically use short clips to try to pique the students’ interest at the beginning of a lecture. This is typically well-received and helps students to imagine and connect with the topic at hand. It does not, however, convey any crucial course content as this kind of historical footage usually has some accessibility problems (e.g. poor visibility and sound etc).

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