Produce engaging video clips: key elements to consider and some technical recommendations

Researchers analyzed more than 6.9 million video viewing sessions on the e-learning platform. They identified five concrete recommendations for teachers who use video with their students.

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Special collaboration: Hugo G. Lapierre, doctoral student in education and lecturer, UQAM, and Patrick Charland, professor in the didactics department, UQAM.

Learners show a marked interest in viewing video content, sometimes even to the detriment of exercises, readings, discussions on forums or blogs, and other interactive elements (Kizilcec et al., 2013). Because of this preference, it is important to understand how this type of content should be thought out and produced in order to maximize learner engagement.

In this regard, Guo et al. (2014) looked specifically at the characteristics of videos that lead to the best learning outcomes for online learners in the context of MOOCs. This work is thus likely to provide operational guidelines for teachers.

Researchers analyzed more than 6.9 million video viewing sessions on the e-learning platform EDx. In the light of the elements they have drawn from this body of data, five key messages leading to concrete practical recommendations for teachers have been identified.

Key messagesPractical recommendations
1. Short videos are more engaging.Segment videos into short sequences, ideally less than 6 minutes. If possible, clearly identify the subject of each video segment.
2. Videos that combine the teacher's face with the content of a slideshow are more engaging than a slideshow alone or the teacher's face alone.Simultaneously record the teacher's face with the content displayed on the screen (e.g. by displaying the teacher's face in the corner of the screen while the slide show is presented).
3. Videos that are produced in a more informal and “personal” way are generally more engaging than more impersonal recordings made in the studio, although these are of higher quality.Do not hesitate to record in an informal context: according to the authors, it is not necessary to invest in a “studio” quality production. 
4. Videos produced directly for online use are more engaging than recordings of classroom lectures in front of a large audience. Avoid using recordings of lessons previously given in front of a class. Produce content specifically for distance education where the teacher speaks directly to the camera. 
5. Videos where the teacher speaks quickly and with great enthusiasm are more engaging. Prepare and practice before starting the recording in order to limit clashes and downtime during the explanations. 

These recommendations appear encouraging for teachers wishing to produce video content as part of their distance education. Indeed, the research results of Guo et al. (2014) highlight that it is not necessary to have professional equipment in order for the audience to remain engaged in watching videos; a laptop computer with a camera and a microphone seems sufficient.

However, it is still important to be sensitive to lighting and ambient sound quality when recording so that the viewing experience is enjoyable. Practicing before starting the recording is also a good way to ensure that you maintain a good flow and maximize student engagement.

For those who wish to segment recordings into shorter sequences, be aware that most video viewing platforms, notably YouTube, allow this, as this short demonstrates. tutorial.

Finally, the simultaneous recording of the face and the content on the screen can easily be done with free and royalty-free software such as OBS. This video tutorial outlines the use of this software. 

(Editor's note: You can also do it very simply with Loom, a popular tool among teachers these days!)

With that, to your cameras!

References

Guo, PJ, Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014, March). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. In Proceedings of the first ACM conference on Learning @ scale conference (pp. 41-50).

Kizilcec, RF, Piech, C., & Schneider, E. (2013, April). Deconstructing disengagement: analyzing learner subpopulations in massive open online courses. In Proceedings of the third international conference on learning analytics and knowledge (pp. 170-179).

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