What I Learned Making Videos

I’m grading final reflections for an online grad class I taught this semester and many of the students are referring to the video notes I created for them in their final reflections. I also read this article on tips for creating video lectures for online courses, so decided to create my own “What I Learned Making Videos” post :).

Videos Require Time

Videos require outlines, notes, and screen set-up (I used Camtasia, Prezi and a video camera), then filming, then editing. While my first video required hours and hours (5-6 hours for a 15 minute video), I became more proficient toward the end, with each 15 minute video requiring about an hour of time.

Videos Require Rethinking Content

While I struggled to keep the videos at 15 minutes, I know the rule is videos should be around 5. In my defense, I covered 2 weeks of graduate reading in 15-20 minutes. Since I covered basic notes for the readings in video form, I knew I needed to keep them short, with mini-breaks to allow time to pause the video for notes, and to clearly identify where to return to revisit a reading. This is a fairly standard realization for instructors beginning to include video.

Most importantly, these videos influenced my approach to the discussion boards – which influenced what I was asking of students. I wanted students to explore the ideas and issues from the readings, so traditional synthesis posts didn’t make sense. Besides, I’d covered an aspect of synthesis with my video and I did NOT want students to simply regurgitate my video notes. So, I explored gamfication and problem-based learning in the discussion boards instead. For the first 3 modules (6 long weeks) students revolted. By the 4th module they realized I wouldn’t change my approach and they needed to determine what they were learning. By the 5th module (weeks 9-10, the final weeks of the term) students saw the connections between multimodal discussion board posts as exploration of theory, and short papers for each module. They learned to use the videos to support their learning. This demonstrates a few things:

  • students still push back when asked to ‘do student’ differently than what they expect
    • In the beginning: I  received emails “In my other grad classes we do x, y, z. Why are your discussion boards *?”
    • In the end: I received emails “it all makes so much sense, thanks for forcing me through this curriculum”
  • students resist drawing connections between multimodal learning theory, multimodal composition theory, and multimodal tasks in discussion boards because they fear the new and unknown
    • yes, I learned this because I included videos. Early in the semester many students complained about the discussion board work load given the amount of reading. In the later modules students had learned how to use the videos to help with reading, and to focus their energy on the projects in the discussion boards. I saw more and more comments about the videos – they learned :).


Overall, I am very glad I included videos. Students were able to engage in discussion, and new multimodal explorations of theory because the basics were outlined in video form. Students were better able to connect with me, because I appear in the videos. I’m sure I’ll continue to struggle with how students learn to effectively use the videos in the course, as there is no model for ‘how to be an online graduate student.’ I think recognizing that videos don’t replace face-to-face lectures, and reconsidering content to tasks EVERY semester is the best approach to effectively incorporating videos into the online classroom – which means online courses continue to require more, different work! 🙂


Check out my YouTube Channel here


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