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Looking for a great way to make a richer, more personal connection with your online students? Try video!

 This tip comes from a blog post by Josh Murdock, an instructional designer at Valencia College in Florida. He uses weekly video updates to keep his online students engaged. He notes, "Students have given great feedback on this type of video announcement. Students say they feel more connected, understand expectations better, and get a better sense of the assignments each week."

Josh explains:

I have created weekly updates via webcam for my online educational technology courses for a few semesters now... I tend to follow a similar pattern each week for the video announcements.

    1. Discuss the previous week with any type of encouragement or reminders needed.
    2. Discuss upcoming week assignments with particular details on assignments, best practices, and questions you typically get from students on the various assignments.
    3. Highlight something new and refer students to my Tips and Tricks section for a weekly extra on a tool or information.

This type of video announcement is easy to produce using a basic webcam, sometimes recorded directly to YouTube as an unlisted video. Unlisted setting allows you to easily share the link or embed without having the video searchable or showing up on your YouTube channel...

Don’t forget how important audio quality is when recording; consider using a microphone instead of the webcam microphone, depending on its quality and clarity. Create a simple script or outline to follow each week as you record, this will help you keep on track and not forget that detail you wanted to discuss.

This type of video announcement lets your students see their online teacher, which is often rare in a fully online course... It’s also important to include a transcription... for students needing access to a text version, until auto transcription improves.

Feeling more connected to the course always is always comforting for students, especially those taking their first online course or struggling to understand assignments based on text directions and examples. [Text was edited slightly. Read Josh's original post.]

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The composing interface in our LMS provides several ways to record and post video in your online class. Both students and instructors can post video in the Discussion (in posts or comments). Instructors can also use it in creating a Global Topic, posting an Instructor Update, or critiquing an image with the Notes tool. Visit our newly updated page on Using Video in Online Classes to learn about techniques and best practices for using video in your online class.


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  1. Have any of you tried used video in this way (or another way) in your online classes? Please post a comment and tell us about it!

    I love video as a quick and easy way to answer students' questions. It's often very time-consuming to explain something in writing in sufficient detail, so posting a video helps me give an adequate response to a student — without having to write paragraphs and paragraphs to do it! And students seem to like this for the same reasons Josh discusses, above.

  2. Hi Jennifer - 

    I have tried this, and will continue to try. Another tough aspect of recording the video, I find, is getting the lighting right - my office has poor lighting, and I look somewhat creepy. Not wanting to frighten the students with my "Munster's" visage - I managed to add some lights and was able to make a decent recording. I did get some response, we'll see if over time this continues to encourage them and creates stronger connections.

    1. I hear you, Shelley! My home office is painted a deep asparagus green, and I look ghastly whenever I record video in here...

      I'll be curious to see how your students respond.

  3. I really like the idea of using video more often to make the online classroom feel more personal and to draw student attention to important information. I've successfully used video for the welcome topic (both posting a video and having students post videos), but when I tried to make a video that was more content focused, I ran into a problem with the file size and couldn't post the video. I used my webcam so that I could save and reuse the video across semesters and sections, and it was on the long side–about 10 minutes. I assume this can be avoided by making the video shorter? I see in the "Using Video in Online Classes" tutorial the suggested video time to hold students' attention is 2 minutes (quite short!). I don't see any info about lengths or file size limitations for technical reasons. I'm also curious if there's a way to control the file size other than limiting the length.

    1. Hi, Rhea–

      It's a great idea to create your videos and save them locally, so that you can reuse them in future semesters!

      Controlling video file size is really not my area of expertise, but here are a few suggestions:

      • First, be aware that the file upload limit for each post is 250 MB. If your video it's bigger than that, you're going to have a problem when you try to upload it.
      • You're right that you can make your files smaller with a shorter video.
      • You could also break up your longer videos into several shorter segments and upload these in separate posts.
      • I don't know what software you're using to create your videos, but a smaller frame can also yield a smaller file size, I believe.
      • (green star) Best suggestion (green star) You can upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo and then embed it into your post from there. (Set your video as "unlisted.")
        (warning) One caveat: This is not a solution for critiques, which must be posted inside the online learning system. (See Standards for Online Instructors, Standard V.)

      I hope this is helpful! Please, anyone who has more expertise than I (not difficult!), do weigh in here...

  4. Jennifer - 

    The videos were a HUGE hit. I actually ended up using Screenflow to video my screen as I was looking through student projects, making comments about their strong points and what could be improved - for all to benefit - like I would in a critique in class. I then uploaded the .m4v video and voila! Several students commented that they really enjoyed the video reviews - great for visual design courses online.

  5. Awesome, Shelley! I love hearing these stories.

  6. Screenflow sounds pretty awesome. Thanks for the tip!

  7. Thank you for the tips. I know video has the highest engagement in marketing, so it only makes sense that it would be in the classroom as well. I will play with it this weekend.