Creating Video Content Series (Part 2): Structuring Videos Into Course Content
This week we will conclude our series on creating video content by exploring strategies for structuring videos into your course content.
As an instructional designer at a university, a significant amount of the work that I do is in a learning management system (LMS). These systems exist so that all educators can create and deliver dynamic learning experiences online. While not all LMS platforms include native tools for creating video content, nearly every LMS supports embedded multimedia. If you are planning to integrate videos into your online course content (or maybe you already do), consider these tips for effective video delivery:
Tip 1: Establish a content management system.
All videos need to live somewhere. You may already have videos stored locally on your computer or saved on a flash drive, but to deliver your video files through an LMS, they also need to live somewhere online.
There are a few solutions you can explore:
Your institution may allow you to upload videos directly into your LMS. Before doing so, it’s a good idea to check with your LMS admin or edtech team because, depending on the terms of your institution’s contract, some LMS companies charge a premium for extra storage space in the system and the storage capacity of your individual courses may be capped so additional charges are not incurred.
Your institution may have a media site set up for employees and students. My institution uses a system called Kaltura, but there are several others out there as well. These systems make life a lot easier, check with your edtech team to see if you have access!
You can use free video hosting platforms such as YouTube or (one new platform that I am very excited about) Microsoft Stream. Before selecting a platform, make sure it supports closed captioning, allows user privacy control, and generates embed codes to make it easy to share your videos with students (both YouTube and Stream provide all of these functionalities). Note: If you are using a personal account to store your videos, you may want to check your faculty handbook to verify that using a personal account does not violate the technology usage policy at your institution. This is especially important for contingent faculty who may be using personal accounts to manage content for multiple institutions.
Tip 2: Use naming conventions.
Naming conventions are a big time saver! When you save your video files, name them descriptively and consistently so you can quickly and easily retrieve your videos. If you know that a video will only be used in one course, use the course abbreviation and number in the title to make searching even easier. Otherwise, name your videos by topic so they can be pulled into multiple courses (or even shared with other faculty members). If a video was created exclusively for a particular semester or section of class, include that information in the title as well. Take advantage of additional description fields that your hosting platform may provide for users to add more information about your video content.
Tip 3: Embed videos in your course content.
It’s easy to create hyperlinks to share your videos but it is just as easy to generate an embed code, with the added benefit that students are more likely to click play if they see your videos embedded in line with your other instructional materials.
Though a video embed code looks kind of funky (and maybe even intimidating if you are unfamiliar with HTML), usually a simple copy embed code (from where your video lives) and paste (into your LMS’s media embed feature) will do the trick. Here are instructions for embedding media in the three major LMS platforms in the United States: (1) Canvas; (2) Blackboard; (3) D2L. If you have additional questions (or if your LMS is not listed here), check-in with your LMS admin.
Example of a linked vs. embedded video:
Will open the video in a new window, taking learners out of the "classroom" environment for viewing. Links like these can be unintentionally overlooked.
Will display the video in line with other content, it can be viewed in the "classroom" environment. Embedded videos are more difficult to miss.
Tip 4: Use text annotations to add context to your video content.
Remember, that your videos are just one part of your instruction. Course content pages should not just contain a long list of videos (or one sad little video sitting on a blank page, which I unfortunately see all too often). Use text annotations to put your video content into context.
Mayer’s pre-training principle states that users should, “know the name and characteristics of key concepts” before they attempt to learn something new. Use the annotations you provide to help students prepare for the video content they are about to consume: How does it align with the overall lesson or lesson objectives? Which key concepts should be reviewed beforehand? Is it necessary to take notes? What should students focus on while watching? How will they apply the information they learn afterward?
Example of an embedded video with annotations:
Tip 5: Use the segmenting principle.
As I stated in the last tip, you should not have a long list of videos on a page. The segmenting principle reminds us that, “more effective learning happens when learning is segmented into smaller chunks.” This principle guides us toward creating shorter bite-sized video segments. But, for larger concepts or units of information, it may also lead us toward having a greater number of videos overall. Still, we must keep in mind that the segmenting principle holds true for how we arrange all of those videos on a page.
Consider using one video per page, using headers and text annotations to break-up the videos on a page, or working with your campus instructional designer or edtech team to create an HTML tabbed-style or accordion-style menu.
Example of videos embedded in an accordion-style menu:
You may also choose to explore your video host’s playlist feature to create video playlists for your units. Using the playlist feature will also allow students to navigate from video to video from within the embedded iframe viewer. (If you do this, use your text annotations to remind students that you expect them to watch all of the videos on your playlist, not just the first one.)
Demonstration of how to navigate an embedded YouTube playlist:
Tip 6: Provide alternative access.
Depending on the device or browser your students use to view their course content, they may have difficulty seeing or accessing your embedded videos. A first line of defense is to ask your LMS admin what the recommended browser is for your LMS and share that information with your students. Another way to ensure that students have the access they need is to provide a link that will take students directly to your video directly underneath the embedded version. This is also a great spot to place a download to the documents or slides you are reviewing in your video, your video transcript, or additional lecture notes.
Example of an embedded video with alternative access links:
Tool Tip: The GIF images in this post were created with a free web app called Giphy
Do you have a tip to share? Please leave it in the comments section!