Recorded video can be a great way to deliver content in an online context. It allows learners to pause, rewind, and review material, and can often be more engaging than text.  But using video as a medium for delivering instruction doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always effective.  Here are some ways to ensure you’re creating effective & engaging videos for your online course.

How to Create Effective & Engaging Videos For Your Online Course

1. Consider value and reusability for learners

Whether it’s a high budget movie with motion graphics, beautiful background scenery, or a cameo from George Clooney, the most important consideration is the video’s value to the learner, not only for the current context, but for the future as well.

When planning to film a video, some questions you may consider are:

  • Will this aid them in achieving their learning goals or completing an assignment? According to a study from Columbia’s School of Continuing Education, the highest watched videos are ones that are necessary for completing assignments. Learners naturally don’t feel inclined to engage with the video if they don’t think there’s a need to. So to ensure that learners get value from your videos, incorporate content they’ll need to complete the course.
  • Can this video be used 1, 5, 10 years from now?  Using video to describe theories, frameworks, and real-life examples (sharing personal stories) can be valuable to learners over time and can be reused in subsequent courses. Describing the current state of an industry will not render that video valuable when times change. If you would like to incorporate media that is adaptive to new contexts, consider hosting live webinars instead of pre-recording videos to ensure the effectiveness of your content over time.

2. Utilize visuals

Use visuals alongside your talking points to make concepts come to life.  Even without the budget to develop visuals, stock photos or simple drawings can be incorporated to strengthen points or tell stories. Consider using a great free tool, screencast-o-matic, to add narration over a powerpoint presentation for one of the simplest ways to create more visually appealing videos to illustrate concepts.

3. Keep it concise

A 30 min webinar is engaging when you’re in it, but watching a video for 30 minutes (or 20 minutes using NovoEd’s speedwatching feature) is less engaging.  We encourage our partners to break longer videos into smaller (bite-sized) clips, to give learners a better sense of progression and accomplishment.  Shorter clips also allow learners to better plan their time, as they can more easily jump in and out of a learning experience when their busy schedules allow.

4. Inspire inquiry and accountability with questions

Ask prompting questions both in the videos and in discussions that follow.  These allow learners to process the content in a more active/critical way, rather than solely watching passively. Open-ended questions rather than close-ended/recall questions are better for prompting engaging discussions and inciting a variety of perspectives to be shared.

5. Invite guests

In contrast to in-person lectures, the online medium allows you to incorporate knowledge from experts located in diverse geographic regions.  Consider recording a Skype video call with a subject matter expert located elsewhere (something that was done successfully in our Global Social Entrepreneurship course for Philanthropy University). A greater variety in subject matter expertise can often be more engaging than viewing videos from one instructor.