We all want our classes to be comfortable spaces where students can learn. One way to create a welcoming classroom and make a great first impression is to create an introductory video. This helps set the tone for the course and can help students be more at ease at the beginning of the semester.
There are different types of introductory videos. We would like to recommend two: a general instructor introduction and a course specific introduction. The general instructor introduction is about you, the instructor, and can be used for all your courses. The course specific introduction, as the name suggests, provides a taste for the course that is set to begin.
Below, we give some pointers on what to include in both types of videos. But we encourage you to do what feels right for you, to experiment, and to have fun with it!
The general instructor introduction is all about you: who you are; where you are from; what is your educational and professional background. You want to keep it brief (1 to 2 minutes), light, and fun.
Here is a list of things you can include in your instructor video:
- Territorial acknowledgments: It is important to begin by acknowledging the Indigenous territories upon which we teach, and live. VIU is located on the unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw, Quw’utsun and Tla’amin First Nations.
- Introduce yourself and your background: you may want to share who your family is, what territories you are from, your educational and professional background;
- Speak to things you are excited about: what do you love about your discipline, what do you like to do in your free time?
- Keep it short and engaging: share enthusiastically
- Tip: avoid mentioning the semester or year if you would like to reuse this video for numerous courses and over the span of a few years if you prefer.
In concluding your video, you can invite students to post their own videos on VIULearn, if you have created a space to receive the videos. This could be a good way to engage with students and give them the opportunity to introduce themselves before class starts.
The course specific video is all about the course. This is a way for students to get a feel for what the class will be about and what they can expect from you as an instructor. Again, you want to keep it brief: this isn’t a lecture or the complete introduction to the course (you will go over the details on Day 1), it’s just a taste. If your class is a movie, this is the trailer. Keep it brief, under 3 minutes.
Here is a list of things you can include in your course video:
- The course name and number and how it fits into the program curriculum;
- How the course is organized and delivered: online, f2f, blended; synchronous or asynchronous; organized by theme, week, module, or season
- The learning objectives
- Expectations: where and when the class will meet; how students are to prepare for class
- Assessments: brief presentation of assignments (just mentioning what they will be, you can go into detail on Day 1)
- Letting them know where to get started and how to get help
- Optional: you can give them a quick walk through of the VIULearn course shell, show them where to start and where things live.
Even if you are teaching in person, this type of introductory video can be very useful and reassuring for students. It can also be a resource that they can refer to if necessary.
Making a Great Video
Tips for preparing a successful video:
- Prepare: make a plan, create a script or outline, and familiarize yourself with it so that you don’t read directly from it while recording
- Look directly into the camera or webcam (it looks like you are making eye contact)
- Schedule time to practice and film multiple times (there will be bloopers!)
- Speak as you do in class, with enthusiasm: don’t read your script, just talk to the students
- Add visual aids whenever possible (ie. walk through of VIULearn)
- Add captions to your video for accessibility
Your videos can be posted to your VIULearn course, emailed to students, or both! Students enjoy it when their instructors reach out to them before the beginning of class, just to say hello. It makes them feel welcome and reassured, especially in these uncertain times. It also helps to humanize you and it has been shown to increase student engagement because they form a connection with you.
If you have questions or need technical support with VIUTube or VIULearn, please contact the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some resources that you might find useful.
- VIUTube support hub – learn how to create or upload a video and how to share it with students.
- Creating Introduction Videos – this page from the University of Pittsburgh gives tips on lighting, location, camera placement, and other interesting tidbits you can keep in mind when creating introductory videos.
- Self-Introduction Video Checklist – This document from Leeward Community College offers a checklist of things to include in an introduction video and a sample script.
- How to Create a Course Introduction Video – This resource from Kent State University provides step-by-step instructors for creating an introduction video including how to set up lighting and camera and tips to help you feel more comfortable when you’re filming.