7 great instructional videos from 2020 and what makes them stand out

At Prezi, we’ve seen a rapid growth in video in 2020, which perhaps is no surprise with the shift to virtual learning. Teachers across all levels and subjects are using Prezi Video to introduce new content, outline assignments, review for tests, and teach essential skills.

Of course, not all videos are created equal. Creating an effective, useful video for online learning requires not only a focus on the learning outcome, but a consideration of the medium and how to utilize it effectively.

Prezi Teacher in Residence Paul Teske has spent a lot of time looking at teacher videos, and thinking about what makes a great instructional video. In his post, he distills his thoughts and outlines them in two videos, using the Community of Inquiry Model as a frame to guide “the what and the why” for a great instructional video.

As 2020 comes to a close, we wanted to highlight some examples where teachers are modeling these important attributes, calling attention to what specifically they are doing, and explaining why it works in online teaching and learning.

We’ve organized this list around these key attributes for a great instructional video:

1. The teacher as the guide — build a narrative thread between content pieces and use the language of the classroom.

Here are two examples:

Science teacher Brennan McGee connects classroom routines similar to what a student might experience in his classroom. He posts these frequently so that students come to expect these videos (check out his profile page). Bonus: See how he stages his “video thumbnails” to make them fun and encourage kids to watch:




In this second example, Lorri Holloman uses the language of the classroom, and specifically their selected curriculum Core Knowledge, to draw these connections:




2. Cognitive load — group information and concepts into smaller chunks.

As Ava Nguyen moves through this lesson, she makes clear transitions and groups similar information, helping to guide her students:




3. Props — add instant engagement and fun.

ESL teacher Janey Nevarez brings a puppet friend, adding both fun and expectation to each video:




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4. Graphics — support your narrative with visuals that can help illustrate relationships between concepts and data.

Teacher Andy Frye uses graphics and images effectively throughout this lesson:




5. Images — use the power of images and engaging design.

Visual arts teacher Monique Pollick selects beautiful images and a design that enhances her presentation:




6. Facetime  — show your face and gestures to bring 120% of your personality!

Teacher Nucleo Vega brings energy and a good use of gesturing to guide and focus student attention:




7. Interactive pauses — encourages student interactivity with a short task

Heather Craner asks her students to pause the video and complete a short reflective task (in their notebooks, in this case). This could also be done inside your learning management system (LMS) as an online discussion prompt or response:




Looking back on 2020 and the videos that teachers have created, we were inspired by teachers growing their practice to adapt to this new normal, and it was hard to decide which to feature. If you’d like to see some more, check out the Prezi Video Teacher Gallery, where we’ve organized videos by use case. If you’d like help getting started, visit the Educator’s Resource Center.

Paul Teske, Teacher in Residence @ Prezi

Paul Teske

Paul has worked in education for over 25 years as a teacher and in education technology companies. He is the founder of Education Impact Exchange. He taught English Language Arts, and ran after-school technology programs for K-8 students. Paul holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Washington.

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