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Top Ten Tips for Creating Quality Videos

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These tips will help you create high-quality videos that also engage learners and promote understanding.

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  1. Be clear about the goal or purpose of the video. 
    • State the goal in simple language at the beginning of the video.
    • Title your video based on its goal or purpose.
  2. Start with a transcript.  
    • Organize your thoughts and create a transcript so that your delivery is smooth and the video is no longer than it needs to be.
    • Use the transcript to create the closed captioning for your video. Captions give your video an educational boost by providing the content in an additional format, and benefit students who are deaf and hard of hearing, English language learners and anyone learning at home who may not always find a quiet place to study. Visit Teaching with Accessible video on the AEM Center website for more information on captioning.    
  3. Be concise. 
    • Keep your video to 10 minutes max. Why? Research from MIT indicates that 6 minutes is an optimal length for an instructional video, and in his book, Brain Rules, John Medina suggests 10 minutes as the upper limit of learners’ attention span for a presentation. Need more time? You have two options: 
      • Create several shorter videos, each with a descriptive title, and provide them in a “playlist”
      • Edit a longer video into short segments separated by title screens. While this doesn’t shorten the whole video, breaking it into segments can help with retention.  
  4. Make it interactive. 
    • Insert knowledge checks in your video. Pause at transitions to new topics or concepts and pose a question or encourage reflection and deeper engagement with the content.
  5. Be descriptive. 
    • Avoid generic words (e.g. this, that, there) in favor of more descriptive language. Students may be multi-tasking and unable to look at the screen the entire time. Using descriptive language is also helpful to students who are blind.
  6. Minimize distractions. 
    • Make sure the background of your video is as plain, simple, and tidy as possible. A busy background competes with your learners’ attention. 
    • If you are recording yourself, consider your clothing. Solid colors with more muted tones tend to work best. Avoid clothing with stripes or checkered patterns (they appear to “dance” on video) as well as busy patterns. 
    • Most devices have a built-in microphone, but it tends to pick up a lot of the ambient audio. If possible, plug in an external microphone. Even the headset that comes with your smartphone can greatly improve audio quality. Poor audio quality will not only make it more difficult for learners to hear what you’re saying, it can be a distraction. 
  7. Think about your room’s lighting. 
    • Avoid positioning yourself in front of a light source, such as a window or lamp.You may appear in silhouette and this will make it more difficult to see your facial expressions, which are essential to effective communication. Additionally, students who are deaf and hard of hearing rely on lip reading (in addition to closed captions), and students with light sensitivity may experience discomfort from the harsh lighting. 
    • For best results, make sure the light source is coming from the same direction as the camera or off to the side slightly. 
  8. Record in landscape mode on your smartphone.
    • Hold your phone horizontally (landscape mode) before you start recording. Portrait mode videos will include distracting black bars on the sides when played on a landscape screen (such as a computer monitor).

Accessible Educational Materials (AEM)

Print- and technology-based educational materials designed to be usable across the widest range of individual variability.

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Audio

Digital form or representation of a sound which may be used for non-visual access to text and images.

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A line drawing of a smarphone is shown in both portrait and landscape orientations
  1. Keep it steady. 
    • Use a tripod or some other method to steady your device or camera (a stack of books or a shelf, for example). Besides being a distraction, shaky video can cause motion sickness.
  2.  Use a video platform students know.
    • YouTube is familiar to many learners, including those who use assistive technology. It also supports closed captioning for accessibility. However, it can be blocked in some districts and you’ll need a Google account. Check with your tech director to see if YouTube is a viable option.

Technology

Equipment or system where principal function is creation, conversion, duplication, control, display, interchange, transmission, reception, or broadcast of data.

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Accessibility

Access for all people, including people with disabilities, to web environments.

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AEM Center Webinar: Creating High Quality and Accessible Video