As a video producer creating videos for online university courses, I get many different professors and a variety of courses that come through my studio. Over the past several years I have discovered several things that I think could be helpful for others who might be creating their own videos for online courses.
But before I get into the helpful tips, I want to address why videos in online courses are important. Even though it’s a direct substitute for lecturing, having videos can help you focus on the most essential information students need to learn. You must remember lecturing for an hour in a class does not mean you should have a hour long video.
In a traditional class you have interruptions. You have faces to look at and visual queues that help you see if people are understanding. You have discussions and sometime tangents and interruptions. Occasionally you may get behind on the outline you had prepared. All things contribute to time which is why most university courses are an hour or two a couple of times a week.
When it comes to online courses video should be used as the medium you teach your content. That doesn’t mean you are just present as if you were in a lecture hall because you aren’t. You should teach the material that’s most important or essential for students to learn so they can accomplish a test, or project.
It’s also fulfilling the purpose of creating social presence. A way for students to get to know you as a professor and feel connected. It’s the same principle online creators use on YouTube and TikTok. You could have 3 people that cover the same sort of content and each of them with a variety of subscribers, but why is that? It’s because we are all unique.
Its why students want to attend in person classes. They want to experience connecting with professors and classmates. In an online class that’s what video is doing because it allows you as the teacher to teach the most essential principles to students through your own experiences and personality.
Now for the tips.
When creating videos online it’s important to take a little extra time to either script out your videos or have a well thought out outline that you’ve gone over a couple times. This may be something you already know but I would also add that you should look over the homework or project it’s supposed to feed into so that the content recorded only helps the student succeed in their learning journey.
With this the key timeframe for educational course video is about 7 to 10 minutes give or take 2 minutes. There is of course an exception but it’s a good idea to stick to this length.
If you do decide to go the outline route, I would really suggest you time your recordings. That way you don’t go over time or get distracted at a specific bullet point.
You Don’t have to be Perfect
I often get asked, “is it okay to mess up or should I cut it?” My answer is always absolutely! No one is perfect and we all have good and bad days, and we’ll mess up here or there. It’s okay.
If you are recording and you mess up a line in the script just correct it and keep moving. If you really mess up that’s fine. Just restart that segment and edit the bad take out and replace it with the good take.
The big warning I would give to online course creators is that it’s never okay to waste student’s time with a poor video. Meaning don’t just wing it. Doing so will mean students will not get the amount of content they need to pass the test or project or even finish it.
If you decide to test on the material that was taught and the video was just poorly presented, (meaning lots of ums and ah, large breaks with no talking, bad audio, distracted teaching) students will resent it and in turn either not finish or do poorly.
That’s never a good thing.
Mixing Things up is Okay
It’s okay to have a variety of styles and levels of videos. You could have the main content video be well produced. Scripted with good lighting and edited well. For example, you can easily make those screen recordings but with good audio.
Having a variety allows you to be flexible. You could have videos for only the key modules of the course and then reading and other material in the other modules. Then after the first couple of classes you re-evaluate the material and add new videos as questions arise and update videos as you see where students are struggling the most.
The biggest thing you could do to make better videos for online courses is to invest in a good microphone. There are lots of options out there but having a good microphone is crucial to providing a good online experience.
I hope that these tips are helpful to you as you take create your own online course for a university or for the internet.