What makes a great instructional video

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I used to hate watching myself on camera. As a bookish introvert who shied away from the spotlight, I was extremely camera averse and preferred being the one behind the camera, not in front of it. All that changed during graduate school, when I began filming my class instruction for research purposes. I studied myself in relation to my students. Over time, I stopped paying such close attention to how I looked on screen and paid more attention to the instruction I was providing and how students responded to it. Using video, I got the opportunity to realize what was actually working in my classes and could adapt future instruction to something that I knew would click with my students.

These days, I create a lot of instructional videos that provide guidance for teachers using video presentation tools like Prezi Video. Instead of instructing a class in person, I’m talking directly to the camera and speaking to the audience at home. I’m still growing in my comfort with video, but I don’t have to be an expert to make a great instructional video, and you don’t either.

With so many of us having hybrid schedules lately, a teacher-created instructional video can help students out a lot since it highlights what teachers think is most important. Instructional videos can’t replace every aspect of your class – there will likely be gaps of information missing between videos, and you will need to guide students through a playlist to the overall goal of the lesson. Still, using video can serve the purpose of building community, establishing instructional presence, and aid in social emotional learning.

How to make instructional videos

In the videos below, I provide some tips for recording instructional video for the classroom. Both videos are framed by the Community of Inquiry Model, which consists of three presences that should be apparent in online learning. These presences overlap so don’t try too hard to parse how the various parts of your video represent each presence. Instead use the presences as a simple check to make sure you are producing a well-rounded experience for students.

The three presences of the Community of Inquiry Model

  1. The first presence is “instructional presence.” This pertains to how you instruct and lead your class. How do you direct them through the various materials? What is your pacing and cadence? Do you provide the “why” behind what they are learning? 

  1. The second is “cognitive presence,” which is about engaging students in thought-provoking work. How does your video lead students into deeper understandings for concepts? Do you provide the right amount of information? Are the examples you provide contrasting or complementary?

  1. “Social presence” is the third presence and it relates to how you craft a tone of warmth and welcoming. Do you introduce yourself? Is your wonderful personality coming through? Do you make personal references? Do you encourage students to collaborate and engage in the activities of the class? Do you evoke a sense of non-judgemental belonging? 

In this first video, I walk you through various videos that come from the Prezi Educator Community. I point out what teachers are doing well in each video.

Stay connected while you work remotely with Prezi Video

In the second Prezi video, I provide tips to consider when making a video, including ways to get started, and some technical tips on lighting and sound.

If you’re ready to get started creating an instructional video on Prezi Video for your classroom, check out these educator resources. Or if you’re in need of some inspiration, explore our Prezi Video Teacher Gallery for examples of teachers across various ages, grades, and subjects.

Remember — when you finalize your video, tag it with #OnlineLearning, as this helps others in the community see your ideas.

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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