5 Video Tools for Your Online Class

5 Video Tools for Your Online Class

Video ToolsOne of the courses I teach is completely asynchronous, and for a long time I’ve wanted to add a video component to at least break up the monotony of otherwise text-heavy materials. I’ve been experimenting with a few things, but there are many more out there I want to try.

There’s no disputing the power video can have in boosting instructor presence and student interest in an online course. But it doesn’t have to mean creating hours of highly–produced footage. Whether you want to record yourself giving a presentation, include a video format option for student assignments or create animated presentations, the following tools are a good place to start your own initiative. All have a “free” option and a good track record within education circles.

1. Instagram: This free mobile app is focused on sharing images and brief videos (3 to 15 seconds). The social elements of the platform allow for comments, following and favorites. Simultaneously share new items through other accounts, like Facebook and Twitter, and add a searchable hashtag (e.g., #EDU101) via caption or comment.

2. Jing: Capture your computer screen to show images, charts, slides, interaction with software etc. along with your recorded narration. After downloading the application and creating a free account, you can record and save videos (up to 5 minutes long), and then share them with the Screencast.com feature, which creates a URL.

3. Moovly: Interested in creating animated presentations? This web-based application allows you to create tutorials that include images, recorded audio and video. You can upload your own items and build on templates already in the system. Share videos via social media or download files for other uses.

4. YouTube: Set up a free video channel through your Google account. This platform’s basic tools allow you to record, edit and publish videos from your computer or mobile device’s camera. Additional features include an audio library, captioning, transcripts, privacy settings and social interaction options (i.e., ratings, comments). Share your videos with a link or embed them on a webpage.

5. Course Learning Management Systems: Chances are that your online course is offered through an LMS that your school licenses and maintains. The latest versions of many of these systems (e.g., Canvas, D2L) include features for capturing and posting audio and video, as well as the integration of external apps (e.g., YouTube, Kaltura, Khan Academy) that allow for easy sharing of video-based content.

  • Explore this: Options with your school’s academic technology experts

Getting Started

It may seem overwhelming to embark on a project to “add video” to your online class, but you don’t have to create everything at once. Start with just one video element and then ask your students for feedback. Did they watch it? Was it interesting? Would they like to see more video? Are there specific points in the course where they feel a video explanation would be helpful? Having a goal in mind related to why you want to add video is also important to determining whether or not your project is successful and worth continuing.

Where should you add video to the course?

The term video covers a lot of ground. This could include clips of you speaking directly to students, animated tutorials, screencasts and more. Take a closer look at how other online educators are using video to enhance connections and communication in their classes.

Course and Faculty Introductions: Tips for course introduction videos from The Ohio State University’s Office of Distance Education and eLearning include, “Have fun with your recording session! Remember, you aren’t talking to a camera, you are welcoming your students to class.”

Student Introductions: We often rely on threaded discussion forums to meet our students at the beginning of each term. Some learning management systems provide detailed student profiles, but many don’t. If your course is late in the program sequence (this is my experience) the students already know each other and you are the “new guy.” Change up their introductions by encouraging video submissions. University of Hawaii instructor Mike Menchaca requires students to share 15 second introductions via Instagram.

Module Overviews: Recommended by Faculty eCommons as a next step after providing a course-level introduction, create a short clip to share your expectations for each week in the course, addressing questions you know they’ll have and providing an overview of requirements to help them stay on track.  Online educator Jason Rhode provides step-by-step instructions for recording video with your computer’s webcam and then adding them to course modules in the Blackboard LMS.

Content Presentation: Capture and post a “tip of the week” (as inspired by Instagram suggestions from We Are Teachers) that addresses a complex concept covered in the module, answers a frequently asked question about this week’s assignment or provides a motivational message about staying on track in the course. Last year, MIT studied students’ video viewing habits on the edX MOOC platform. These courses often rely heavily on video to present a range of content. What did the students want? The following characteristics were among those found to be most desirable:

  • Brief videos (less than 6 minutes in duration)
  • Informal settings/backgrounds
  • Instructors that speak rapidly, but take frequent pauses

How long should course videos be?

Research shows that engagement drops off as videos get longer.  One minute or less is recommended, keeping in mind that several shorter videos are more likely to be watched in their entirety than one longer video. We’ve all stopped watching at some point before a long video ended, or used the fast forward option to bypass parts of a presentation.

I’ve included several do-it-yourself video options in this post, but you can do so much more with advanced skills, software and assistance. Don’t forget to check with your academic department and faculty development office to find out if there are resources available. You may find that you have access to additional tools and premium features through school accounts. There are also opportunities to receive training and assistance with the tools and in the creation of specific videos you want to include in your class.


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