When we create online resources, our aim is to deliver content through the most engaging, effective, and fit-for-purpose medium.
But this does not always work out in practice; students can’t sit through hour-long powerpoint screen recordings, or worse yet, don’t bother to watch them. Are we as instructors, convenors, teachers, out of touch with the younger generations?
Serving students poorly planned and executed educational media is like putting essential groceries in a soggy paper bag; the valuable contents are just not going to make it to their destination.
What can we do to keep our students engaged so they dive deeper into the content? Our recent Media Production interns weighed in on what they thought contributed to better educational video media:
- Set the camera at eye-level
– this creates a more natural and aesthetic perspective for viewers
– don’t be afraid to stack your laptop/camera on a few books
- Pay attention to audio quality
– it is easier to follow along and retain focus if the audio is clear and consistent in quality
– get the microphone as close as you can, it is better to see the microphone and have good audio quality
– reduce noise pollution (ie. turn off air con’s, music, machinery, etc.)
- Try to use the light
– a well lit shot is going to be much easier to watch, use the natural light or lamps around you
– you should a face a window if you can
- Test it out
– practice speaking, and working with the technology
– practice recording a portion and play it back, see what could be improved and ensure it is audible
- Avoid reading
– the more natural the speaking quality of the video the more engaged students will be
– eg. if the footage is just someone reading, the content would be more effectively delivered via audio recording
– it’s better refer to bullet points, rather than have a script in front of you
- Keep it short
– the shorter the video, the more likely the audience will engage
– if information is not needed, do not include it in the video
- Students love hats
– having a bright, or colourful item engages the students
- Edit if you can
– if you are able, edit the video in order to have it as concise as possible
- Remain engaging
– the most effective videos are the ones where you are enthusiastic, unscripted, and engaged with the topic
– don’t be afraid to address the viewer
As an educational media producer, it’s encouraging to see we have been hitting the mark by applying these in our production processes already, and an eye-opening experience to see points we’ve never even thought of (hats!)
My top three takeaways:
Enjoy your content, so your students enjoy your content
If “the most effective videos are the ones where you are enthusiastic, unscripted, and engaged with the topic”, then you have to show it. Presentations, lectures, and recordings are, to a degree, performance. Content isn’t an issue because you are a subject matter expert, so practice improving your delivery.
Find out how to engage your Gen Z students, or improve your video blogs.If it is unnecessary, leave it out. In visual communication, less is more. This includes avoiding text-heavy PowerPoint presentations. Think about the medium of delivery and explore the ways you can best utilise it for your specific content. (Shameless plug: get in touch with the Ed Media production team, we love chatting about this stuff!)
Have a motif
This one caught me by surprise, but the comment about ‘students liking hats / bright and colourful items engage students’ holds merit. I’m immediately reminded of Ronika Power and her bold jackets, or the VC’s bow ties – you will be remembered. Find your own motif and include it in your teaching, online or in person. Without first connecting with your audience, you won’t be able to deliver your content.
What do you think of these points? Is it the students who are wrong? Do you have any other tips to engage students and communicate your content effectively online?