Creating Engaging Videos for Online Learning

Notes from the session Lights, Camera, Action: Engaging Video for Learning at the Emerging Technologies for Online Learning by Tawnya Means and Sarah Bleakney University of Florida.

Creating engaging videos for online learning takes much preperation from both faculty and instructional designers. Faculty must develop their course in chunks with shorter videos (not less content!). By developing shorter, engaging, and a variety of videos students are able to become more engaged in the course content. This also allows faculty to quickly and easily substitute out videos for more up-to-date and relevant content.

Why Use Video?

  • introduce students to a course’s instructor
  • demonstrate how to navigate
  • highlight the content and purpose of a particular course
  • overview or provide focus for a particular learning module *explain how to complete a course-related activity
  • add graphics and animations to an audio description
  • provide fresh and timely updates to a course
  • connect personally to students

1. Preperation

  • Plan the framework:

    • Read, watch, do
  • Prepare the Materials

    • Studio videos
    • Any other videos
    • Activities (mix it up and allow for choices)

A conversational style vieo increases engagement

2. Content

  • Keep it short
  • Make it interesting
  • Keep it focused
  • Make it varied


  • We get used to what is going on around us and start to tune it out
  • Our modern brains have increased their threshold
  • Plan for frequency of cuts”
  • Use short bits and make meaningful changes to activity level

Length of Videos

  • Optimal is 6–9 minutes or shorter
  • ~150 videos over 16 weeks
  • Average of 3 minutes each


Use a variety of recording methods to capture content such as voice overs, screencasts, on camera, and more.

3. Student Activity

  • required for internalization of learning

  • goal is application

  • leverage multiple channels

    • video type variety
  • words and pictures foster meaningful learning

    • simultaneously reinforce each other
    • reduce cognitive load

Provide Alternatives

  1. Activity otions
  2. Clear instructions

Benefits for alternatives:

  • bring to life dry concepts and make them real, tangible, and understandable
  • bring experts to the course on a more convenient schedule
  • deliver in-depth and focused instructions
  • wide ranging variety of course materials
  • personalize the learning experience
  • keep student attention
  • flexibility and choice
  • engage students
  • reusable

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