Ten Tips for Producing Online Educational Videos

Photo Credit: Trevor Enright via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Trevor Enright via Compfight cc

At the recent Kaltura Connect conference Wendy Collins, VP, Digital Strategy for Infobase Learning presented on Taking Online Video to the Next Level: 10 Tips for a More Engaging and Effective Video Experience.  This presentation was filled with ten great tips for preparing for your next video project.

1. Ensure the best possible quality – your video does not have to be perfect, however spending some time thinking about lighting, sound and framing can make a world of difference.  Planning your shots in advance using storyboarding will help you think about these elements for each shot.

  • Lighting – Always shoot with your subject under good light any avoid dark or shadowy areas, using supplemental lighting if needed.
  • Microphone – invest in a good quality wireless or wired microphone to capture the audio of your subjects.  CIEL and the VIU Library have microphones which can be borrowed.
  • Framing – Frame each shot avoiding distracting elements in the background and giving your subject the best possible.  Refer to this tutorial on video composition and framing.

2. Know your audience – If possible always have a specific target audience to which your video is aimed.  Define your demographic or niche audience in advance and use appropriate terminology and toolsets which would be familiar to that audience.  Doing multipurpose or multi-audience videos is difficult and problematic; rather consider making multiple videos if you are trying to address multiple audiences.

3. Make sure it matters – Can you sum up the message of your video in a single sentence? Ensure that your video will be meaningful to your viewers addressing their specific needs.  Consider making the video personal and relatable by being authentic as possible.  Do not worry about whether your video is professional or amateur the most important thing is to make the video authentic.  Scripting content in advance is a good tool for planning the video, but refrain from simply reading back your script as this will come across as unauthentic.

To make the video visually appealing consider using b-roll content; things like images, visuals or scenic video which can be overlaid in the editing process.

4. Keep it short – A study by TubeMogul suggests that videos should be 3-4 minutes maximum.  After 3-4 minutes a 50% drop off rate occurs, which means viewers on average stop watching the video at this point.  If your video has to be longer than 3-4 minutes, refer to point 3 above and make sure it matters to your viewers.

Anther technique to keep your viewers watching past the 3-4 minute mark is to frontload the content of your video.  This means telling viewers what the video will provide them right at the beginning in the first few frames.  Tell the viewer what valuable information they will be getting in the video initially to keep them watching through to the end.

As an alternative to long videos consider a series of short videos.  One or two concepts per video may be appropriate for educational video.  Short videos can then be arranged into playlists which can be played sequentially and also allow viewers to quickly navigate between videos.

5. Provide additional resources – Provide external links to documents, webpages and or images where appropriate. Avoid trying to condense information in the video which can be provided in additional resources.  When linking to additional resources, always consider that your viewer may be on a mobile device, so ensure that the additional documents are mobile friendly.

6. Make your video discoverable – Make sure your video is discoverable to your intended viewers.  The marketing tenet “location, location, location” is relevant whether your video is intended for public or private consumption.  Ensure that your video is embedded in places where it gets maximum exposure and not buried within other content.  Also feel free to embed the video in multiple locations online if appropriate.

Metadata is data that describes and gives information about other data.  For video we use text metadata to describe the contents of our video.  The title and description of your video become essential places to textually describe what your video is about allowing potential viewers to find it via search.

This one was new to me, but apparently video thumbnails do matter.  The video thumbnail is the still visual image which shows on a video player while the video is not playing.  The thumbnail can be defined by the user and any image can be used.  Note: VIUTube users can request a custom video thumbnail by contacting learnsupport@viu.ca  – user defined video thumbnails will be available very soon.

Want your video to go viral?  Viral videos are videos that become extremely popular through the process of internet sharing, typically through video sharing websites social media and email.  The research indicates that videos which go viral enact a psychological response in viewers, so your video must make users angry, happy, sad or scared.

7. Make your video accessible – Ensure “frictionless” playback by ensuring videos play on click or the play button works immediately and responsively across all devices.  We rely on the great service which the Kaltura platform has built to provide frictionless playback.

Also consider ensuring your video is accessible to people with disabilities by creating caption files for the hearing impaired.  If visual information is being used for the comprehension of the video content, ensure that this is also described through the audio and caption track.  For more information on ensuring your content meets accessibility standard or 508 Compliance, see this article.

8. Provide playback features – Online video viewers expect full control of the player and video they are watching.  Ensuring the video has a well-placed and clearly labeled replay button to re-watch the video.  Again these are functionalities which we are relying on Kaltura to enable in their platform.  Currently the replay button is available to viewers at the end of each video.  Coming soon we will have two new additions to the player, including the ability to play the video at double speed, for quick review as well as jump back button, which will allow users to quickly jump pack 5 or 10 seconds in the video

9. Encourage video feedback – Connect and engage with your viewers by allowing them a space to feedback on videos.  If you are embedding your videos in Desire2Learn, consider placing them in discussion forums rather than in content, so that viewers can ask questions and respond to the video.

Consider using a call to action in your video as well.  Each video you produce should require some action by the viewer, described within the video.  Perhaps viewers must do an assessment, quiz, discussion post, or reflection as a result of watching the video, thereby ensuring the viewer watches the full video and can demonstrate this through assessment.

10. Measure and modify – Gather the analytics around how many views your video received; who watched the video; where was the watched video consumed from; how much of the video did viewers watch; and when did user action occur.  Note: VIUTube users can request a custom analytics report for a video by contacting learnsupport@viu.ca  – user accessible analytics should be available very soon.

 

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