February 07, 2023 •

4 min reading

Top 10 best practices for making educational videos

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The use of videos in higher education has grown since the emergence of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) in the early 2010s. With the pandemic, the digitization of education has dramatically accelerated, and, as a result, teachers have been forced to embrace new practices to facilitate online learning, including educational videos.

Creating effective videos

Although using videos in teaching is now standard practice, some teachers continue to use them fairly intuitively, with no help other than their common sense. Fortunately, research identifying best practices in educational video creation allows us to provide some advice for teachers to increase the effectiveness of their educational videos.

In today's world that is more visual than ever before, the short form video is king. Whether for marketing or pedagogical support, the short video is a sure way of captivating, engaging and informing an audience.

Here are 10 suggestions on how to optimize student engagement and retention with a well-structured, short educational video. 

  • Make your videos short

    • The median engagement time for videos under 6 minutes is close to 100%, decreases to 50% for 9-12-minute videos, and further plummets to 20% for 12-40-minute videos. Mind wandering increases, and material retention decreases throughout video lectures after showing one-hour videos to students in a lab setting. Therefore, don’t make your videos longer than 6-9 minutes, or your efforts will likely be wasted!
  • Speak with enthusiasm

    • For short videos (under 6 minutes), student engagement usually increases (up to 2x) with your speaking rate. Also, speaking enthusiastically and with conversational language encourages students to develop a sense of social partnership and be more invested in your course. Professors who speak fast generally convey more energy and enthusiasm to their students, which contributes to higher engagement.

  • Restrict your video to one identified learning goal

    • You can then provide multiple short videos per lesson, allowing students to digest one set of information at a time. This practice is part of the segmenting of information and manages intrinsic load while enhancing germane load. It enables information to be well-structured and digested in smaller pieces by students.

  • Package videos with interactive questions or use guiding questions

    • Students who answer questions interpolated between 5-minute video lectures perform significantly better on subsequent tests of the material than students who don’t. Your questions can appear directly on your video, Kahoot, Mentimeter, AhaSlides, or any other tool you may know.

  • Provide written support material

    • Or out-of-video text to explain the purpose of the video and emphasize the connections within the provided information. You can provide some text to explain the purpose and context of the video or provide some other written material with cross-referencing.

  • Use interactive features that give students control (e.g., chapters within a video)

    • Students who can control movement through videos demonstrate better achievement of learning outcomes and greater satisfaction. You can also use a media annotation tool that allows your students to collaboratively discuss what you present in your videos (some tools include OVA, AAV, and VideoANT).

  • If you use animations, narrate them

    • Use both the audio and visual channels to maximize retention and avoid overloading one or the other. If you are providing animations for an economics graph, try narrating what students will be seeing in the video rather than providing a written explanation. This will help your students focus entirely on the animation, not the text.

  • Prefer dynamic visualizations over static presentations of text

    • In mathematics, students note a preference for the dynamic visualization of a problem. It is all a question of timing! If you need both auditory and written text, written materials should be delayed and presented after auditory explanations as a recap.

  • Weed out information that is not needed in your video

    • Eliminate unnecessary music, complex backgrounds, and too large chunks of text from your videos, and favor making videos with as few distractions as possible to avoid overloading your students’ working memory.

  • Explicitly highlight important information

    • Highlight your videos’ key elements through symbols, changes in the size or color of text or diagrams, and use arrows to connect different pieces of information. This will help outline how the information you provide is organized and help your students understand the connections between different pieces of information.

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Develop more interactive classes

Research conducted among HES-SO students revealed that 69.5% believe they learn better with visual support, such as video, and 95.4% of them would like to have video as their primary learning support. The improvement of educational videos is therefore becoming crucial in the field of education. Educational videos represent one of the main ways to transfer information and a real opportunity to create engagement among students in contexts where interactions can be more distant.

The following list is not exhaustive but offers 10 simple techniques to improve the effectiveness of videos by capturing students' attention and redirecting it to the most relevant elements of the video.

A better use of videos also allows professors to develop more interactive classes by outsourcing some of the theoretical content. Thus freed from its most formal aspect, the class becomes more experimental and efficient, and the learners become more autonomous and involved in their training. This is one of the most exciting scenarios for thinking about the education of tomorrow and for encouraging a lifelong learner mindset.

Written by

EHL Research Assistant

Lohyd Terrier
Written by
Lohyd Terrier

Associate Professor at EHL Hospitality Business School, HES-SO

Petar Zivkovic
Written by
Petar Zivkovic

Senior Lecturer at EHL Hospitality Business School, HES-SO

Anne-Dominique Salamin
Written by
Anne-Dominique Salamin

HES-SO, dicastère Enseignement (external)

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