Improving Instruction with Video

The challenge of making instructional videos is to create an experience that will enhance the learning outcomes of your students. While uploading a lecture to the web is a typical practice at most universities, well-produced videos can provide better student engagement, improved retention, and stronger learning outcomes. Video can show how chemical reactions take place for a chemistry class, how molecules interact for a biology class, or how surgery is performed for a medical class. Showing students recorded interviews with subject matter experts or adding visual examples can enhance a lecture. Speeding up, slowing down, and editing video can give students a perspective they couldn’t observe with their own eyes.

How can I teach you about what happens when sodium reacts with water? By giving you a video to watch:

I’d like to point out their use of slow motion. Did it help your understanding of the reaction? My guess is it did. That’s something only video can do. My point might seem obvious, but there are challenges to creating well-produced video for instruction. Not all professors are great in front of a camera. Lack of time or money can also be factors. But, there are ways to improve performance, and create better produced videos quickly and with little expense.

First, hire a professional. They have the equipment and knowledge to create effective videos. Poor video or audio can distract students and keep them focused on the wrong things.

Second, do a lot of pre-production. Form your idea by writing a script or creating a storyboard. This will help convey your idea to video producers.

Third is improving delivery. One way is to skip the lecture and opt for an interview. Video producers are skilled interviewers and can edit answers to their questions into concise stories. Interviewees don’t have to memorize lines or read from a prompter. They can speak conversationally to the producer. I find people with little experience in front of a camera sound more natural when they’re interviewed.

Third is to take the time to improve your delivery. Skip the lecture and opt for an interview. Video producers are skilled interviewers and can edit answers to their questions into concise stories. Interviewees don’t have to memorize lines or read from a prompter. They can speak conversationally to the producer. People with little experience in front of a camera sound more natural when they’re interviewed. This doesn’t mean reading from a script from a prompter is not an option. Reviewing and editing scripts before a recording is the best way to get every fact right. They can ensure the person recorded will only say what needs to be said.  Scripts written conversationally (like the presenter speaks), and plenty of rehearsal can improve prompter readings.

What about saving time? This is an easy one. It takes a lot of time to create a well-produced video. But, professors give the same lecture numerous times. They only have to create a video once. That video can be shown over and over again meaning you’re saving time in the long run.

What if you have a small budget? Here at the University of Pittsburgh, we work with our clients to stay within their budget. We know how to make inexpensive, professional videos. My advice is to go over your options with the video producer and make informed decisions.

Finally, be creative! Why settle for a lecture capture when you can create a documentary style video? Here is a video my team created for students in the Department of Theatre Arts:

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