Videos have become a familiar way of conveying information in online, flipped, and blended courses. Before making a video, consider whether it is the most appropriate approach for promoting the desired learning outcome. Remember that students will learn material most effectively in active learning settings, so prioritize potential for engagement over preference for a specific modality.
If a video is your best option, be sure to follow guidelines related to multimedia learning principles and accessibility. Also, remember that a brief, out-of-video description of video content (or possibly an associated study guide or handout) can be useful when students need to review the information after viewing the video.
Below are some recommendations specific to video production that can be followed whether you are doing it yourself or working with a production team.
Prepare a script
Using a script will help you present information efficiently, effectively, and professionally. The script can also be repurposed as a transcript for students who need or prefer alternatives to video presentations.
Write for the ear
Use short, simple words and contractions, just as you would in everyday speech. Sentences also need to be short and simple, for ease of comprehension and delivery.
Consider the potential for reuse
Videos have the potential for reuse and redistribution. If you want to be able to reuse a video for a different course or cohort, try to avoid mentioning specific dates. Instead, use nonspecific time phrases, such as “later in the year” or “later in the course.”
Furthermore, you may not want to mention specific assignments, articles, or textbooks (or their page numbers), as these may change over time. If you need to include specific information, place it in the introductory or explanatory text around the video so that it can easily be changed later.
What you wear matters
Big patterns tend to distract, while small patterns tend to cause a “buzz” on camera. Wear solid colors, but avoid bright white or solid black, as they tend to affect lighting. As a general recommendation, warm jewel tones tend to work best on camera.
Check your background
Like clothing, solid backgrounds work best on camera. Remove distracting or embarrassing items behind you before you film and beware of windows and mirrors. Finally, make sure that pictures, flower arrangements, or other background items are not situated directly behind you— or they will look like they are emerging from the top of your head.
Optimize your lighting
The most flattering lighting comes from the front and both sides. Lighting from behind will cast a shadow over your face. Remember to check for reflections in eyeglasses; some reflections may be unavoidable, minor, and entirely acceptable. Others (particularly if using bright spotlights) may be distracting.
If you are using a webcam, avoid the blue glow cast by a computer screen by turning on room lights or, better yet, by letting in natural light from windows facing you or to the side of the computer.
Talk to the camera
If your face is on camera, make sure to look into the camera even if your face or audience are being reflected onto a computer screen in front of you.