Less is more – Tips for Making Teaching Videos

Professor Steve Walsh is one of the fastest creators of ‘teaching videos’ our team has ever seen, and yet his teaching videos are very high quality and engaging. So we ask him to share his video-making secrets.


 

It’s obviously very easy to use video to supplement any online teaching and I find that an online session of 45-50 minutes (using Zoom or similar) plus a video of 25-30 minutes allows me enough time to cover the main elements of a standard session of around 100 minutes’ class time.

To my mind, the key to success is planning and making sure that students are given tasks to do. As we all know, concentration spans in today’s high tech world are ever-decreasing; variety of focus and pace are useful considerations when making a video. The old adage ‘less is more’ seems highly relevant here too; students have so much screen time – both in their academic and private lives – that we need to keep videos short and punchy.

So, in no particular order, a few pointers:

  • Don’t over-rehearse. It’s better to be natural, as you would when teaching a class face to face. When it’s too ‘polished’, a video loses its spontaneity and naturalness. I do most of mine in one take.
  • Have an outline of what you plan to cover and let students see this before the session so they don’t get ‘lost’.
  • Slides are useful, but they should not be over-crowded or contain too much information. They provide a useful focal point and structure to your presentation. And again, ‘less is more’ – you don’t need so many slides; I’d say 15-20 (max) for a 30-minute video is about right.
  • Give students tasks to do to engage them and make them think! I normally pause the video and tell students to do the same while they complete the task.
  • Include a wrap-up section at the end and an overview at the beginning; standard practice for any presentation.