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Make Online Learning Videos
We want videos on The Dojo to be professional but authentic and personal. No need for a big production, green screens or fancy camera shots. Just you, your voice and your screen is perfect!
Below are lots of tips for all the video content creation phases. Many of these tips have been devised from the work of Ruth Colvin Clarke and Richard E. Mayer and their theories on multimedia learning.

6 Top Tips For The Prep Phase

  1. 1.
    Create a script: Having a script can reduce the chances of you missing important points and using an excessive amount of fillers. A script can be word for word of what you want to say, or a list of bullet points with highlighted points that you want to emphasise. The latter method has the benefit of you sounding more natural during your recorded narration. However, if you go for the former, be sure to check it flows well by reading it out loud in practise.
  2. 2.
    Create slides and other teaching materials: Create slide deck (Here's a great talk on slide design) and gather any teaching materials you planned for during the lesson design stage e.g. code examples or scenarios etc. When creating materials, be aware that people learn more from text and images together than from text or images alone, so long as the images add further meaning to your messages.
  3. 3.
    Keep it casual and remove anything extraneous. People learn more deeply from a conversational style than a formal style of written words in all teaching materials. Furthermore, don’t include any material that doesn’t need to be there e.g aesthetic images that don’t add further meaning. Rather than peaking interest, anything extraneous can distract learners from achieving the learning outcomes. This includes your physical surroundings, make sure the recording frame is free of distractions/tidy when recording things off screen.
  4. 4.
    Gather your equipment: Make sure that you have all your equipment, test it and check it’s set up correctly. Example equipment you may need are:
    • A camera or webcam: when recording something other than your screen. Standard webcams and recent smartphone cameras are pretty great options.
    • Adequate lighting: when recording anything other than your screen you need to ensure you have adequate lighting.
    • A microphone: using a usb collar clip mic can help you achieve clearer, crisper sound.
    • A tripod: to keep things steady when you are demonstrating something that’s hands-on.
    • Video editing software: so you can record your screen, face and voice simultaneously and allow you to edit the video and audio afterwards. We recommend using a tool such as Screencast-O-Matic, it simple to use and has lots of online support tutorials.
  5. 5.
    Plan for pauses: Use title slides/images to break up lessons between learning objectives and activities to allow for pauses. This has many benefits as it allows you to:
    • Chunk it: Present content in parts, this is known as chunking. This gives learners time to process new information, prevents memory overload and allows them to move on at a pace that suits them.
    • Keep learners engaged: Help maintain your learners’ attention while they’re watching your videos by including reflection activities. Consider creating pauses every 6 minutes so they can reflect on the topic, or ask them questions on key points.
    • Take a break: Pauses give you the chance to have breaks and gather your thoughts rather than trying to record your entire video in one take. In addition, if you make a mistake when recording short snippets, it’s not such a big deal to do a retake.
  6. 6.
    Turn all notifications off: Make sure any tools that sends on-screen notifications to your browser or desktop (e.g. Slack, Facebook) are switched off. It’s also a good idea to not have any software or browser tabs open that you don’t need for your video. Finally, make sure your phone is on silent, so phone notifications won’t ruin your take either.

8 Top Tips For The Recording Phase

Now that you have fully planned your lessons and are prepped for your videos, it is time to put it all together and start recording. Lights, camera, action!
  1. 1.
    Make it personal: To help build learner-instructor relationships, it’s important to let learners see you! So be brave, use a webcam, say hello and introduce yourself. It’s particularly effective to introduce yourself at the beginning of a course and it’s also nice for your learners to see you at beginning and ending of all video lessons. Furthermore, people learn more effectively when visuals and audio are combined, so when storytelling or when narrating without supporting graphics, text or on-screen actions; turn your webcam on.
  2. 2.
    Use your real voice and keep it casual: No telephone voices! People learn better from real accented voices rather than robotic, machine voices. An inauthentic voice breaks the illusion of those all important social relationships. Furthermore, people learn more deeply from a conversational style than a formal style of spoken words… but don’t forget to be polite!
  3. 3.
    Speak with enthusiasm: Learner engagement is higher when you are enthusiastic, make good use of intonation and speak at a relatively quick rate. It can be tempting to speak slowly to help learners grasp important ideas, but stressing key points is found to be more effective. To support those with special education needs or with English as an additional language, learners have the option of using captions on all our videos.
  4. 4.
    Pre-train your learners: Makes sure learners know the main concepts of a topic e.g. know the meaning of new terms before they are used or know key features or purpose of a piece of software before using it. This can be done in a number of ways e.g. get your learners to do some pre reading before your lesson or describe or demonstrate new words or tools in your lessons.
  5. 5.
    Make it accessible and highlight important things: Make it easy for users to see what you’re demonstrating and discussing by using cues to highlight important things. For example you can embolden keywords, emphasise keywords with your voice, highlight your cursor movement and clicks, or zoom into code you're typing. Some of this can be done post production in fancy video editors like Screencast-O-Matic.
  6. 6.
    Keep continuity: If you are planning for pauses, it can be distracting and jarring for your learners if you pop back on their screens in a different location or in different clothes between chunks. For individual lessons, try and record them in the same location and in the same clothes. If this is not possible… mention what's changed and why, it can be a great ice breaker.
  7. 7.
    It doesn’t have to be perfect! The odd slip up in wording, the postman ringing the doorbell or the cat jumping on your lap is not a big deal and doesn’t spell the end of that take. It makes you a real person and can, actually, help build learner-instructor relations. Just don’t do what did Robert Kelly did; acknowledge it and make light of it!
  8. 8.
    Make editing notes: if you do make a mistake you don't want to include, keep recording and make make editing notes of the times to make editing the video file easier. If using Screencast-O-Matic you can use the mark timeline hotkey whilst recording, which will "mark" your timeline for the editing phase (your learners won't see this). You can find the keyboard shortcut to this hotkey by clicking preferences within Screencast-O-Matic.

5 Top Tips For The Editing Phase

The hardest part is over and it’s time to edit! To complete and polish off your online learning videos, consider the following:
  1. 1.
    Combine graphics and narration: present your audio and visuals simultaneously rather than successively, so that sound and graphics align. We want learners to connect your narration with any images or video recordings in their working memories, and this will be more difficult if they’re not presented at the same time. People learn more effectively from narration and graphics together rather than from narration or graphics alone.
  2. 2.
    Keep it concise: As with many things in life; less is more. It can be hard to edit out your work, but if you notice any repetition of information or anything that can be cut without detracting from your message, cut it! Shorter videos can result in higher engagement and make it more likely that learners will click the play button.
  3. 3.
    Keep it short: We advise making individual videos between 5-18 minutes long or to use chucking methods to maintain learners’ attention. However, if you find your videos are longer than an hour, you’re asking your learners to free up a lot of their spare time to take your lesson. Although our video player will resume playback, consider splitting very long videos at logical points (e.g. sub-sections, sub-topics, between learning objectives or other logical subsets of your content) into several shorter videos to achieve higher learner satisfaction.
  4. 4.
    Add some finishing touches: To add the finishing touches to your online learning videos, consider integrating music, images and effects. You need to strike a balance between making your video professional and avoiding adding extraneous materials. For example, we would advise only adding music to the beginning and ending of your lessons to avoid any distractions from your key messages.
    1. 1.
      There is a wealth of royalty free music to choose from music libraries such as YouTube Audio Library.
    2. 2.
      You can use free-to-use images that have an attribution license by creative commons. Creative Commons have a search feature that lets you search different databases for images matching the appropriate licence type.
    3. 3.
      Screencast-O-Matic offers video editing tools and effects such as zoom into shots or highlight cursor movements or clicks.
  5. 5.
    Export for Wistia: We host our videos on Wistia. Be sure to check out their guide on the Best Export Settings for Audio and Video for their player to make uploading your video file video files to Wistia painless. We recommend recording and publishing in HD, 720p or 1080p with 16:9 aspect ratio.
Last modified 3yr ago