Online Teaching Best Practices for Web Lectures and Presentations

With instruction being online for the summer and online and hybrid for the fall, it’s never been more important to create video content for your students. Of course, for those who don’t usually create videos for their courses, this may not be a straightforward process. You may not like appearing on camera, be unsure of how to even begin creating videos, or may not know the best place to store or share them.

Don’t feel overwhelmed–we’re here to help you! Creating videos isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think. We also have posts on a wide range of video-related topics you can reference, including:

In this post, we’re going to talk about some of the best practices you’ll want to adhere to when creating asynchronous videos for your students (we’ll touch on synchronous presentations at a later time). These tips can help guide you if you’re not experienced in teaching online or creating video content for your students, or give you some ideas on tightening things up if you are.

  1. Keep it short. Your videos shouldn’t be longer than ten minutes and ideally even shorter. Why? Research (lots and lots of research) has shown that students will stop watching if videos are too long. It’s also just more useful for students to have videos presented on succinct, focused topics because they can easily rewatch and find the information they need in a shorter video. If this sounds challenging, just look for places in your usual lectures where there is a natural break and divide your videos up from there.
  2. Make visuals simple. Visuals in your videos can be great! They can help make topics more clear to students and keep them engaged. However, they should be clear and simple. Avoid large blocks of text and instead focus on fewer, higher impact images, graphs, or other visual elements to get your point across.
  3. Engage students. Learning online requires students to be self-motivated and getting the motivation to watch a video is a lot harder if the content isn’t engaging. Find ways that you can engage and excite students in your videos. It can be simple: ask a question and having students answer in the discussion board, joke around, or share some really fun content.
  4. Plan. Course videos are not the time to wing it. Videos should be planned out ahead of time to ensure that they stay on topic and within the recommended amount of time. Without a little practice ahead of time, a general script, and support materials ready to go, creating a video is going to be a lot harder. Trust us, a little work put in at the front end will save you a lot of trouble on the back end.
  5. Check for understanding. Videos can be a great way to convey content, but you also want to check in to ensure students are absorbing the information. You can link your videos to quizzes or assignments in Blackboard or use the built-in quiz features in Yuja to ask questions right from the video.
  6. Practice consistency. One of the most critical things for a successful online course is consistency. This includes videos. However you structure your first video, your successive videos should follow suit. That way, students always know what to expect and they can focus on the content not the structure.
  7. Have a clear purpose. For any video you create for your courses, there should be a clear purpose in mind, whether it’s to lecture, say hello, share information, give direction or just update students on some class announcements.  
  8. Be present. We know many people don’t like being on video, but in an online course where students aren’t seeing you face-to-face, it can be really helpful in building instructor presence. That said, you don’t have to just have a video of your face the entire time, or be on screen in every video. However, do ensure that students know what you look like and have an opportunity to feel connected to you through your multimedia content.
  9. Know your tools. Do you know what tools you’ll need to use to create videos for your courses? For the most part, you can get by just using Collaborate Ultra and Yuja, but even if you just use these two tools, it’s critical to ensure you know how to use them well before you begin trying to teach with them. Not sure you do? We can help! Watch one of our training webinars or schedule a session with us for support.
  10. Make decisions with students in mind. When you’re creating videos for your courses, always put yourself in your students’ shoes. Will a long lecture bore students? Would lots of video content make it hard for some students to access course content? Can I make this accessible (we can help with that, too)? Using student experience to guide your choices will result in better videos and a more successful course.  

We’re only touching on the basics of creating course videos here, but we hope that gives you some good pointers to get you started. If you’re new to this, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help. We can help you learn the tools you need to create content and give you some guidance on putting everything together to create an amazing online course.  To learn more, check out the webinar Christine Monnier gave on Web Presentations:

Additional Resources