The power of video

The power of video

By DCIE News

The power of video

By DCIE News
Lights. Camera. Lecture. Well, maybe not the lights...and you might not even need a camera. But “lecture”... that’s where the action is!

A powerful tool in your online teaching arsenal is the video lecture. Utilizing video in your online course can be vital in creating a superb learning experience. So, what are the things we need to know to use video effectively?

In their most basic form, when one thinks of a video lecture, some people may imagine exactly what it sounds like: a recording of a standard hour-long lecture with an instructor, a white board, and a camera.

For students in the classroom, a lecture like this has dialogue, breaks in the action, and interactivity with the instructor that contribute to the learning experience. For the online student, a recording of this is just a static, hour-long video. Online students watching a video lecture like this often feel frustrated and bored. Plus, they aren’t likely to learn effectively. To avoid these feelings and enhance learning outcomes, there are a few specific strategies we can apply to keep the students engaged and learning during a video lecture.


The first, and most important, strategy is to simplify the lecture so that it only includes essential content. By reducing the lecture to that which is absolutely necessary, we are more efficient with our time and the videos, in turn, become shorter. According to research, viewers often begin to disengage after about seven minutes of viewing. Now, if you just read “seven minutes” and thought, “it’s impossible to squeeze my entire lecture into just seven minutes!” Don’t worry. You don’t have to.


Using this strategy, we take one long lecture and chunk it up into shorter, separate video segments. This way, we can take advantage of the knowledge that students’ attention drops every about seven minutes to strategically plan our video segments into bite-size chunks. This goes a long way in keeping the students engaged and maximizing the learning experience.

Meaning Visuals vs “Talking Head”

Remember when I said you may not need a camera? There are tools that will allow you to record your screen and voice. This way, you can setup your lecture on your screen and narrate over it. Open your slide show presentation or use your computer screen as a whiteboard, and you are off and running. In this way, the focal point of the video becomes the lecture content as opposed to the lecturer. And of course, you can always add your face with your computer camera if you want to make the video a bit more personal.

Let’s not forget, a huge benefit of video is that you are now making mobile-friendly course content! Instead of having to set aside time to study in one location, students have the option to learn on the go. Online students love the flexibility to decide when and where they study. The smaller screens of mobile devices make videos a preferred choice over reading text-heavy documents. Embedding your videos right into your course makes videos a super user-friendly learning method regardless of what devices students are using.

If you’re looking for a way to learn how to design your videos effectively, I certainly recommend reviewing Mayer’s 12 Principles of Multimedia Learning. The Distance Learning Institute goes over the basics in our Designing for Understanding training. For additional tips and tools for recording video lectures either from home or the One-Button studio on campus, you can contact anyone on the Distance Learning Institute team.

Nick Armas is a senior instructional designer with the Division of Continuing and International Education's Distance Learning Institute. Nick is also a legacy alumnus of the University of Miami.