Using Video in Online Courses

Blog Post created by christala on Dec 14, 2017

Most instructors now seem to sense the need for video in their online courses, but they aren't sure where or how to start. Here are a few suggestions!


1. Introductions

The most important video, in my opinion, is the video to introduce yourself to your students. If you only want one video in the course, make it this. Simply introducing yourself to your students via video allows them to see you as a real person, hear your voice, and pick up on your body language. This helps them to immagine you - the real you instead of a robot version of you - when they read all the things you write in your class. It will be easier for them to pick up on how you emphasize things, when you are being humorous, etc. It also helps them to see the passion you have for the subject and the class. This video doesn't need to be long. In fact, around 3 minutes is perfect! Tell them where you got your degrees and what they are in, why you like teaching, and how to be successful in your class.


If you are willing to go a step further, make a few more introductory videos to introduce each week. It gives the students so much clarity on your expectations to hear your voice and see your body language in connection to the words that introduce what they will be doing each week. For some students, it is difficult to understand what the instructor wants most out of an assignment, so they over analyze and stress about things the instructor didn't really want them focusing on and potentially miss the more important concepts. All it takes is a 1-2 minute video to set them off on the right path each week.


2. Instructions

Often a quick weekly introduction is enough to clarify the expectations for all the work in a given week, but some projects deserve a little more attention. If you have a high stakes assignment in your class that students often ask for clarification on, a video would help. This video can be as long or as short as it needs to be. It gives you an opportunity to explain out loud and with body language what your expectations are for the students. You might describe what you hope they learn from it and give some ideas and examples. If you've taught the class before, you probably know what kinds of questions former students have asked. Be sure to answer those questions for all the students in your video! If it would help, ask a student to be in the video with you to ask you questions. A video Q&A is likely to get the information out better than a written Q&A!


3. Lectures

An online class must accomplish all the same learning goals as a face-to-face class. However, an online class is NOT a face-to-face class. While it can be enjoyable to sit in class and listen to a lecture, it can be painful to watch that same lecture on video. The truth is that not all lectures need to be on video. That does not get you off the hook in all cases though! If you have a unique way of presenting something, please do present it on video! But if what you have to say has already been said by hundreds of others on YouTube, there's nothing wrong with using those videos in your course and giving you more time to create content that is more unique to you. Now please don't just find what everyone else has done, make a collection, and call it a course. It needs to be YOUR course! Using what is typically the same and available in many places to cover the basics will give you time to create other content that is more unique to you and will give your students an experience they can't get elsewhere.


Something to keep in mind when videoing lectures is that your online students want to feel like you are talking to them, not like they are getting the leftovers. Recording live class sessions is a good way to start, and it gives students a sense of what they are missing in the class. But we would rather they not feel like they are "missing" anything at all. Once you are more comfortable being in front of the camera, try videoing more of your lectures where you are talking directly to [the camera] your online students. You can still bring up things students asked in other classes, but talk to your online students directly. If it is easier to have live students present, make the video an interview style rather than a classroom format.


I know - you don't like to be in front of a camera, right? Well if you are presentable enough for your face-to-face students to watch you talk for an hour, you are presentable enough for your online students to watch you as well! Their success is worth stepping out of your comfort zone. Do this for them!