3 Tips for Creating Great Video in Canvas

My mom used to tell me, "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should." Actually, she still tells me that. And it's good advice; as teachers and course designers, we should of course be aware of all technology and teaching options, but choose carefully those activities and interventions that get students the most bang for their buck.


Take video, for example. Canvas makes it easy for anyone to create video, anywhere. Video is a great way to humanize an online course, to engage students, and to capture real-world activities, concepts, or objects. But we've learned some things about the use of video that can help you use it for maximum impact. Here are three tips:

Ten Minutes Or Less

John Medina suggests a "10-minute rule," where no segment of instruction is longer than ten minutes. Phillip Guo’s research on student engagement suggests that 10 minutes might still be too long. The graph below shows that the optimum video length is actually right around 6-9 minutes. After 6-9 minutes, the longer a video gets, the less time students spend watching it.

 

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Text or Audio, Not Both

Why is it so awful when a speaker talks over a text-heavy PowerPoint? Mostly because our brains can't process written and spoken language at the same time. Mixing written and spoken text splits learners’ attention between visual and audio channels, which decreases comprehension. Instead, use voice-over to explain or narrate images or diagrams. This can actually improve comprehension as your brain can process both the audio and the visual at the same time.

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Pose Problems, Not Answers

Derek Muller discovered that if he pre-tested students on a physics concept, teach them the concept, and then test them again, scores generally stayed the same. That's because people often rely on their current understanding of a topic, even if it's wrong. Derek solved this with video, and you can see this on his YouTube channel, Veritasium. Instead of just explaining a concept, present the topic in one video as a problem or question — but don't give the answer yet! This creates a chance for learners to come up with their own answer. Then, in a second video, reveal the answer. You might also lead the answer into another question!

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Keep learning,
Jared Stein
VP, Research and Education