Learning new concepts can be difficult. If learning was easy, then one book for each subject would be enough and there would be no need for classrooms or schools or instructors.
But learning doesn’t work that way, or that easily. To teach a new concept, an expert must first use words a student already understands and explain a new concept in simple terms. From there progress can go forward, going deeper into the topic.
Teaching in stages like this works in classrooms, online courses and books. In this knowledge transfer process, teachers and student learners are bound together in this exchange as they cooperatively attempt to communicate effectively and understand and memorize new concepts.
Thankfully today we have that a solution that helps us all to teach and learn even more effectively, and is available for students and teachers inside and outside the classroom. The future is now!
Why Use Video as a Teaching and Learning Tool?
Today, the best technology tool for effective teaching and learning is using educational video. Well-made video captivates and communicates effectively as it is multisensory, using both visual and auditory senses. Being able to see and to hear a concept being demonstrated is far more effective than a new learner simply reading text and trying to visualize the concept mentally.
Watching a demonstration ‘live’ on video reduces the ‘cognitive load’, or amount of metal work. Video is simple and allows the mind to easily grasp a new concept and commit the idea to memory.
Effective teachers are aware that students need the most support just as they are initially being introduced to a new idea. Similar to how good promotional videos communicate concepts successfully, teachers use educational video’s ability to captivate interest and enhance student learning and supplement concepts being taught in the classroom.
How Does Video Work to Make Learning Better?
Learners and instructors alike prefer video when compared to reading and writing methods as video verbally explains and visually illustrates at the same time. Used both inside and outside the classroom, video is ideal for the process of transferring ideas to be understood. Being more engaged when the learning occurs leads to more effective memory recall, and concept is retained more easily than with many other mediums.
Video is a prime example of ‘multi-modal’ learning, or, multiple communication methods at the same time (Lazear, 2008). With the powerful combination of simultaneous visual and auditory learning and due to ‘picture superiority effect’ visual memories are given far more importance than verbal, or word memories (Nelson, D.L., 1976).
The Benefits of Video with Learning and Recall:
Video is Easier to Comprehend than Verbal Instruction. Well-planned and produced videos enhance comprehension and retention of information when compared to traditional “reading and writing” methods.
Video is a Textbook Example of ‘Multi-Modal Learning”. With visuals, text, and speech, educational video offer multiple methods of information delivery and simultaneously increases engagement and ability to understand (Lazear, D. 2008).
Video Increases Memory Recall due to ‘Dual Coding Theory’. Because humans memory is recorded as either pictorial or word-based, educational video greatly increases recall ability of both due to it’s synchronized visual and verbal associations (Paivio, A. 1921).
The Value in Assigning Students to Make their Own Educational Videos
Competency-based learning is demonstrated by students when a class is assigned the task to make and share their own educational videos. The hands-on aspect of researching, filming and editing video gives students the ability to demonstrate both their technical communication competencies as well as detailing the topic they are persuasively reporting on.
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Educational video is a perfect fit with increasingly popular online education options, and with mass online courses, travel is no longer an issue. Students can be away from the classroom and using an iPhone with the iMovie app and can create their own educational videos and then share and view each other’s video assignments over the Internet. Students can watch and report their classmate’s videos as well, all this occurring outside of valuable classroom time.
The 3 Points of Educational Video Production
By following the correct steps of video production, in the proper order, students and teachers alike will be able to create successful educational videos. Today, video does not have to be difficult to create, and it doesn’t have to be expensive either. The iMovie app for Apple products, for either the Mac or an iOS mobile device (such as iPhone), will work very well. Thanks to the advances in technology, cameras, microphones and editing apps are easy to acquire and use – an iPhone is all that’s needed to create a professional looking video today.
Phase 1: Planning and Goals: Identify the key message, goals, style, audience, script, storyboard and the purpose and strategic steps to communicate the message. These are governed by use of a creative brief, script and storyboard.
Phase 2: Video Production: Planning the pre-production technical aspects to creating and filming, the video production filming days, and editing and fine-tuning the visuals and sound in post-production.
Phase 3: Editing and Sharing: Distribution, social sharing, video search-engine-optimizations and analytics. By following the correct steps of video production, in the proper order, students and teachers alike will be able to create successful educational videos.
Getting Started on Making Your Own Education Video
You can make your own video, but the first question you have to ask yourself is:
“What should your viewers think or do after they watch your video?”
This is crucial to know upfront. To be said another way, what is the ‘point’ of your video?
The answer to this question will define everything else you do in this with this project; the script, the shots, the people, the graphics, the music and where the final edit is shown. If you were making a video to show your classmates how a particular change in signage affected pedestrian flow in a public building, then they would be no reason to interview a grandparent asking them about their childhood. Planning main details upfront is key, and is done through a few worksheets.
Phase 1: Educational Video Planning and Goals
What’s the point of a video if it doesn’t communicate effectively? If a viewer watches a video and doesn’t understand the message or doesn’t find it compelling, all the time put into the project is wasted – a scenario best avoided!
Good news, there are tools that exist that ensure a video will work as intended. Planning and picking the audience and goals for the video aren’t hard, but, does require a little a brief period of focus. The upside is, the more time you concentrate on planning, the less work you have to do later.
Identifying the Main Message, Audience and Call to Action
The first step is to use an educational video Creative Brief – a special questionnaire designed specifically for video production, and answer all the questions in full before you begin. The creative brief defines the key message, the audience, the goals, and other key aspects to make an educational video.
The message to the audience should also be clear and concise – you can’t speak to absolutely everyone, so you must decide who your main audience is upfront. Your language and topics will be focused when you have an audience in mind – be conscious of not using terminology if you’re choosing an audience that is unfamiliar with the terms.
Similar to the one main message, the viewer needs to know what action they’re being asked to take. If this were a promotional video, this step would identify what the “call to action” is. Is it to learn more about this topic by visiting a resource website? Or is it to write their local congressperson to chance about a certain law? Using your Creative Brief will help you narrow down your message, audience, tone, duration and call to action step.
Scripting for Educational Videos
A script is often referred to something like a blueprint for filmmaking – it’s the plan that flows from the Creative Brief and carries the actual story. In addition, a script saves you a lot of time in editing and filming. When filming, it’s not always necessary to memorize word for word, but as an outline that gets you to the end goal, a script is invaluable.
Format of a Video Script
Typically professionally formatted scripts, similar to a Hollywood screenplay, have a similar flow or style to them. This consistent style is done because it works – in addition to spoken word, character names, scenes location, motivations and actions are all listed. There is also plenty of white paper space on the page that is ideal to use a pen to write cues and notes on.
Visual Storytelling with a Storyboard:
With your creative brief now complete and a copy in hand, the next step for you is to visually plan out individual shots using a storyboard template. A storyboard is a page with several blank boxes that represent individual shots or ‘frames’ from your promotional video. Each frame, or panel, represents an individual shot – comic books use this method to tell a story in sequence.
Storyboard Will Visually Illustrate the Shots:
Where is the location setting? (inside vs. outside)
Which subjects are in frame, and which way are they facing?
What type of shot (close up, wide angle, extreme close up, etc.)
Where is the camera in the scene and how close is the subject?
Is there movement? Is the subject moving, or the camera?
Using a pencil, lightly sketch on printed storyboard and draw out the plan for the shots you have in mind. Feel free to add notes below each frame, for instance “Opening shot, actor walks up to camera.” With pencil, you can adjust the shots as you work through your script.
Phase 2: Educational Video, Production, Filming and Editing
You are almost ready to being filming. In preparation, make sure you have a list of the on-screen interviewees, the props, the filming equipment and access to all the locations you need.
Make this list and then bring together all the gear you need and lay it out in front of you first, to make sure it all works. There’s nothing worse than showing up to a location to film only to realize your camera has no more storage memory to film and you need to make space first, or your forgot that script or tripod at home. It happens to the best of us, let me assure you, but the list and preparation will help.
Filmmaking Gear Checklist, Educational Video Production:
Like a painter with their set of paintbrushes, using video gear is an exciting step for most people, as this is the phase where we’re actually ‘creating’. While there is no one size fits all, having a guide for gear will help narrow down what is required to make a video.
Headphones (over-ear with muffs to avoid background noise)
The above list is from a guide titled ‘What Video Equipment Do I Need for Any Budget Level’. The article does a side-by-side comparison of low budget, medium budget and high budget gear (click here to see it).
For basic educational videos, the ‘Low Budget’ gear list should be helpful to beginning video producers, but there are bits of gear from a higher-end budget that you may be able to borrow and add to your video to enhance it.
Additional Professional Video Gear:
Camera Light (clips onto the camera and shines on people being interviewed)
3-Piece Lighting Kit (lights on stands, usually 2 or 3 lights placed around a subject)
Audio Recorder (Can be used to record better sound than the camera does)
Laptop (to backup the video)
On Location: Find the Best Place to Film
Check the area you plan on filming being conscious of ambient sound and lighting. Try and find an area that offers the least amount of background noise, and lighting, as you’d like it. For lighting, if you were bringing your own lights and stands, you’d want a place that you can control (turn off or on) other room lights. If you’re planning on using ambient light, take out the camera up and take a peek.
Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3
Setup the Camera on a Tripod, and aim it at the backdrop you plan on filming. Rehearsing the shot several times will help
Have your on-camera subject sit on chair (or stand if needed) and looking through the camera, adjust the lighting and camera settings to get the visuals where you’d like them. Adjust the camera and on-screen subject to make the shot look like a frame of the storyboard that you’re attempting to recreate.
A rehearsal is a very good step. Setup the microphone too and record an audio test, and play back listening through your headphones. Have your on screen actor feel confident about their delivery too. If the lighting, sound and actor are all ready – then you are ready to roll.
Sound. Lights. Action
Your run-through tests are complete. The sound is good? The light is good? Then you’re good to start rolling, for real! Using the script and storyboard, start filming. It’s okay to have blunders – just redo the shot again. Go step by step through the shots until you’re done.
Phase 3: Editing and Sharing for Educational Video
Editing is where the story is really told. If someone watched your video without knowing the premise, would they understand? Might the editing style and flow of the video imply it’s a promotional video with a sales agenda? The Script and Creative Brief had a plan, and are important to stick to, but in the end, the video has to make sense on it’s own. Keep the end viewer in mind at all times.
Adding Background Audio, Music and Sound Effects
When your main edit makes sense and is nearing completion, music can help add to the mood. When used mindfully, background music and even some sound effects can be tasteful and add to the video. Be sure to monitor volume levels – music and sound should never ‘drown out’ any person speaking on camera.
Once your educational video is complete, it’s time to send the video from the editing program and then to upload it to the Internet. Common video formats for Apple products are .mov or .mp4 and for Windows and Android devices, .avi and .mp4 are more common.
Export at the highest resolution that the video itself was recorded in, UHD (2160P) or HD (1080P or 720P) unless there is standing reason not to (such as a low-end Internet connection limiting uploading bandwidth).
Video Resolutions Explained: UHD, HD and SD
The links below lead to Wikipedia pages further explaining the specifications of each:
UHD (ultra-high resolution) or “Quad-HD” video resolution come as (3840 pixels wide by 2160 pixels high). These name Quad-HD comes from the dimensions being four-times that of 1080P HD resolution. UHD and Quad-HD are often called “4K”, though the resolution of 4K is a bit wider, but it is very close.
HD (high definition) resolutions are typically called 1080P or 720P. The large is the ‘Full HD’ specification of 1080P (1920 x 1080 pixels) and the smaller HD specification of 720P (1280 x 720 pixels).
SD (formerly called ‘standard definition’) is the oldest video format, currently phasing into obsolescence. Dating back to the year 1939, this resolution is very old and tiny when compared to HD and UHD. SD is also called 480i or 480P (640×480 pixels), and should be avoided if possible due to better formats HD and UHD being available.
Once your video is exported, your video is ready to be viewed. You can either copy it to a USB drive to transport somewhere or upload it to the Internet to be shared. Uploading to the Internet is the next portion.
Uploading and Sharing your Educational Video Online:
Online hosting is easy and free. While there are a variety of online videos hosting websites to choose from, the free option of using YouTube is often the best option due to it’s wide range of features. With YouTube, the platform plays on a variety of devices (TVs, desktop computers), and it is mobile-video friendly and allows for privacy.
Click the ‘Sign In’ button, at top right of the page
Login using your Google account. (Create a new account if you need)
Click ‘Upload’ button, at top right of the page
Click ‘Select files to upload’. The page will change, and a ‘Processing’ bar will show the video uploading
Begin by typing into the text boxes information about the video; title, description, tags (keywords) and importantly – the ‘public’ or ‘privacy’ level you’d like to have.
Once the video’s progress bar is complete and you have filled in the information you want, click the ‘Publish’ to make the video now available to be viewed.
The page will refresh – you can ‘Share’ or ‘Embed’ or ‘Email’ the video from this page.
Share – You see a website link for the video you can copy and paste to send to people, or click on your desired social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) if you wish to share it there on your feed.
Embed – You can copy the code snippet and place it in your website to embed the video. You can define the size dimensions of the video using controls.
Email – Fill in a person’s e-mail address and a message to have a link of the video sent to them.
Some reasons not to choose YouTube may be because music, photographs or some people who you got shots of you don’t have permission to share. Ensure that you have the rights to any music, photographs, video clips, filming locations and any people you are interviewing on camera. Using waivers is an excellent way to ensure you’ve covered all the necessary steps in getting approval. If you’re ever in doubt, be sure to ask.
That’s it, your video is live! If you wish to change settings such as the name, tags, thumbnail or privacy level, you can easily visit your YouTube dashboard and click ‘Edit’ button near the video you wish to change.
Congratulations on completing your educational video!
Continuing The Video Creation Process
Understanding story telling, video and the creative methods involved is an ongoing process. There is so much more you can learn if you’d like to improve your abilities, and it’s such a rewarding and fun hobby, or full-time vocation, if you choose. Enjoy the process – and if you’ve created a video, share it down below in the comments me to see, and show others what you’ve done.
Fenesi, B., 2011; Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R., 2003; Berk, R. A., 2009.