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Since I’m teaching in hybrid form this semester, I’m not creating too many video lessons for my students. But, I do make an overview video every week and a quick video lesson here and there. So, I thought I’d share seven easy ways to make your video lesson better for your students. The key here is “easy” ways, so if you’re overwhelmed by the thought of creating even more complicated videos, I still recommend reading this blog post.


Tip 1: Show, Don’t Tell

Rather than relying on recording yourself on screen, teaching various lessons, take the time to screen record every once in a while. You can explain a process easily by talking to your students, but showing them the process on your screen will help them truly understand what you are describing. Looking at someone talk on screen can be a recipe for boredom for a lot of students. If they need to follow along while you move across the screen, though, then they have an extra reason to pay attention.

Tip 2: When Telling, Keep a Stable Angle

If you are doing “talking head” videos, I highly recommend making sure your camera is a stable as possible. This might mean having a computer on a flat surface in front of you, so you can use the webcam. Or it might mean having your smartphone on a tripod. Whatever the case may be, a shaky screen will not make for a happy student. It might make for a nauseous one, which we definitely want to avoid. Tripods are very inexpensive, by the way. I use this one, which has flexible legs.

Tip 3: Use Some Variety in Your Video

Variety can mean many things in this case. Changing your background every once in a while. Doing a close up when you have a really important point to make. Switching between you on screen and screen recording. Having students pause the video and do an activity before coming back for the rest of the lesson. Really, this tip can be integrated in a lot of different ways, depending on your preference.

Tip 4: Use Simple Overlays

Now, this is probably the most time-consuming tip, but technically it’s easy to do. Adding text or image overlays to your videos can help students understand what the main points of your lessons are and it can keep them watching longer. For example, if you are explaining a four step process, have the title or label for each step appear on the screen when you say them. You can add text to the screen easily using iMovie titles, or you can create your own text or images to add as overlays using Keynote or Google Slides. Here’s a video on creating overlays and a video on editing videos on iMovie.

Video Creation Tips Playlist Checklist

Tip 5: Fast Forward or Cut Out Slow/Silent Moments

I’ve recorded myself drafting a literary analysis discussion post before. Rather than make my students watch me type a paragraph over the span of 10 minutes, I fast forward through the drafting process then go back to the regular pace when I’m explaining my thought process and writing process. Since I explain my process after writing the draft, not during, fast forwarding through my drafting makes sense. Students only spend a few seconds watching me write, rather than multiple minutes. You can also just cut out these types of moments, if you prefer that style of editing.

Tip 6: Create Informative Thumbnails

Now here’s a really easy one. After you create a video, create a really simple, but informative, thumbnail image for it. This is the image students will see on Canvas or YouTube or wherever they are viewing the video lesson. If you coordinate thumbnails, you can also make it easy for your students to find the video they are looking for. All my weekly overview videos have the same thumbnail, with just the week number changing. All my video lesson thumbnails have the same background color and font color. If you’re looking for a free, easy tool to use to create these, check out Canva.

Tip 7: Create Video Series, Rather than Long Videos

Good luck getting your students to watch a 30 minute video in one sitting. A 5 minute video will have more luck. Even 10 to 15 minutes can work, if really necessary. Overall, though, just create short video lessons that work together to create a bigger picture, rather than one long video with the whole picture. Make it easier for you and for your students. That’s another reason why I like tip 6 so much. Organization is key. I use YouTube to house all my video lessons, which I explain how to do here.

Not Convinced about Creating Videos? Hyperdocs are Another Option

Final Thoughts

Creating video lessons doesn’t have to be this complicated, stressful process. If you want a whole playlist of helpful videos on the topic, here’s my video creation tips playlist. If you need help with video editing, check out this Flixier tutorials playlist. I hope these 7 tips help you in your video creation journey. If you have any of your own tips, go ahead and share them in the comments so we can learn from you! And if you want more online teaching advice, here are the resources I’ve created in one helpful page.

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Want to make better video lessons for your students? Need easy and quick solutions? Here are seven tips for making better video lessons. #onlineteaching #teachingtips