Creating Video for Learning: Process

Film sticks

This article is part of a series on using video in the classroom. 

So, what is the best process for converting concepts or ideas into a good video? Here are some easy steps.

Video view iconIn the video and film world, there has been something of a head-spinning evolution in technology and a shape-shifting of job descriptions for a few decades now. Still, even in the midst of changes that would give anyone vertigo, there has been one fairly timeless set of production practices that are so ubiquitous, you could forget they are the cornerstone of a few million creative projects in the field of the moving image. In fact, whether you are Steven Spielberg, or you are a media studies student in school, or you fall somewhere in between those two categories, these production practices are not often deviated from. As a rule, they produce results, save time and money and provide the collective production group with a safety net to cope with the many unknowns that exist in everyday production. Of course, as a faculty member or student, you may wonder if this process would really even apply to you. It is rarely fun to hear about new requirements you need to add to your workload in order to up your technology game. (After all, you have so much to do already.) Still, if you want to create videos, following this production process will eventually save you time, improve the result and become the ubiquitous practice you rely on to save you work in the long run. Trying it, you can see how you can mold the process to your own needs.

1. It helps to start with a pre-production planning meeting to map out how your materials or idea can be converted to a video. Going over what you want to communicate either with a production person, a colleague or by yourself (just to organize) may seem time-consuming, but when you don’t have to follow up with numerous emails to the professionals helping you or keep making dozens of tweaks to your video masterwork later, you will realize it was time well spent. You can also learn through this process about things you didn’t know you could do, as well as veto things you don’t think aren’t true to what you want to present or to your personal style. The time spent is important, especially if your research examples for inspiration. You don’t physically show up each time the video is played, so you gain time later. Theoretically, you only have to craft each video once.

2. Next, write a script for each video. While it may seem like the anyone helping you can easily extrapolate from PowerPoint slides you made by viewing your notes, it can actually be very difficult. Or it’s possible you may feel that you are a good extemporaneous speaker who doesn’t need to waste time with a script. If you are used to communicating with slides or speaking off the top of your head, it is important that you figure out what content matters most since you don’t want to exceed a range of five to eight minutes of video. Ultimately, text in your original slides or additional content may have to be included as a supplemental document or documents along with the video. Though it may seem a bit like a step back before you could use slides in your presentations or lectures, the reality is that video isn’t the best vehicle for lengthy lectures or text intensive presentations. A single-spaced, one-page script comes out to about five to seven minutes of video. And having written a script, you also have what you need to help make your video compliant with ADA Accessibility guidelines by posting it along with the video.

You will want to write the script early on because when you pick out any key points to highlight in your video, or select additional images or find related video clips you may want to add, the script will drive your choices. Once you have a script, adding notations on where the additional elements go makes it much easier to assemble the video. It also provides a common roadmap for anyone working on the video, or if you work alone, this will add much-needed structure to the process. Results that appear very creative are often the products of immense planning and attention to detail.

3. From here you will need to think about the tools you will need or have access to for shooting your video and assembling it. In some cases, a team of videographers, editors, graphic designers and producers may be assisting you, and in other instances, you might be using your own iPhone or just talking to your laptop webcam. Since there is a long list of tools which work best under different conditions, there will be a blog post coming up that covers some of the cool tools for creating everything from polished video to guerilla recordings.

4. Once you have shot the video and started assembly it helps to review a ‘rough cut’, that is the first version of the video for which you will need to provide feedback to the video team (or have a trusted colleague provide it to you). Since the video may be something that will be around for a while or part of shaping the course (or module) you have developed this review is pretty important. The video does not have to be perfect and sometimes spontaneity or small mistakes can actually make the video authentic and engaging. At other times, a flub may bother you more as time goes on and is worth fixing. And remember, publishing, video, and film all have editors and/or producers at the center of project development. Find a person to take a look at both your script or video rough cut. If you have an off day in a lecture, it’s over by the end of the day, but a review can help you with things you didn’t notice or aren’t objective always about.

5. With a video camera in the mix, there are some new things you can do that you couldn’t do before. As a fan of the world of images, I see that teachers can add to what they have taught and bring new methods to how they pass on information. Ask colleagues for imaginative teaching videos they have seen and do research on the video content out on the web for inspiration. And find videographers and media professionals, many of whom would love to share their knowledge. Perhaps for the first time, you will be able to show rather than speak and use to text to put your point across. If you are talking about children learning a language, now you can show them learning it or if you are discussing an ecosystem, you can be talking from the middle of the system and if you are referring to an expert, you can record their words or have them on a webcam from another place halfway around the world. With some energy, thought and planning you can use video to open up the world to the people viewing your presentation.


 6. Once you have you have a video made how do you get it to YouTube or up in Canvas? Look for the Creating Video for Learning: Present It.


Here is a link to a study by researchers at EdX (MIT)  Presentation of video – looking at 128,000 students in their MOOC courses

Effective video from Vanderbilt University

Compelling online video from Educause (created by Columbia University and Barnard College:


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