Creating videos: What should make the cut?

Video directorWe’ve all seen some excellent videos (and some really awful ones) for instructional purposes. It’s no secret that video is a powerful medium for learning, but as with any technology, it should be used strategically, and done in a way that enhances the learning process.

During his presentation on “Video Creation for Textbook Authors & Instructors” at the Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference in Santa Fe, Sasha Vodnik, author of video courses with lynda.com (aka LinkedIn Learning), shared his tips on what to include (and what to avoid) in your instructional videos.

Why create videos?

Even if, as authors, we don’t want to believe the claim that “students don’t read”, Vodnik shared some excellent reasons why authors should consider creating videos.

  1. Video is ideal for some students’ learning style;
  2. Video takes advantage of awesome modern technology; and
  3. Video lets authors make material available that there may not have been room for in the print book!

What goes in a video?

To determine what should go into a video, consider what has made the great instructional videos you’ve seen, great. Chances are they did more than tell you something. They showed you something!

To show your viewers what they need to learn, consider including slides and screen captures from your computer. In exceptional situations, students may benefit from your “talking head”, but use this sparingly and when other visual elements aren’t sufficient.

What doesn’t go in a video?

Vodnik started this discussion with two questions: 1) “Have you ever started a video on YouTube where the droning announcer spent a bunch of time up front explaining who they are and what they’re about to do?” and 2) “Who’s quit a video like that and looked for something more to the point?”

Exactly. Some things just don’t belong in the video. Instead, Vodnik advises that you put meta-information (who you are and what you are talking about) in the accompanying text rather than in the video itself. Just dive right in!

Once recording has started be careful to avoid a talking head without an accompanying illustration and anything that’s not useful for illustrating your point.

Prepare for success

As with your writing projects, having a plan before you start will improve the success of the project. Vodnik suggests the following preparation process for your video creation efforts:

  1. Identify a goal
  2. Outline the content
  3. Write a script
  4. If the script is too long (more than 5 minutes), break it up into multiple videos
  5. Create the slide deck and/or other materials you want to show in your video
  6. Practice presenting the material

Ready to get started making your own videos on your PC or Mac? Check out Vodnik’s How-to: Video creation for textbook authors and instructors for detailed steps on the process.


Eric SchmiederEric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.