Best practices for educational videos

Best Practices for Educational Videos

Educational videos can be a great way to engage learners and support them in achieving learning outcomes. And, with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to create, edit and upload them. Here are some considerations for educational best practice when you are creating videos for your online or blended course. 

Create Community

When instructors create videos starring themselves it helps create course community. Seeing their instructors face and hearing their instructor’s voice helps learners get to know their instructor. Simple videos, such as ones that welcome students or sum up the week’s highlights, help learners know their course facilitator is here with them week-to-week. And the best part? Videos can also save the instructor time, as they  

  • can answer frequently asked question before they are asked in the course discussion café or via email 
  • can be reused in the next running of the course 


Community building can be taken even further by encouraging learners to create videos starring themselves. For example, discussion responses can be done in video form rather than text.  

Accessible for All

Ensuring your video is accessible to all learners not only supports learners with disabilities but is proven to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all learners. For example, closed captioning helps all learners as it clarifies what is being said and engages both oral and visual senses. Some common accessibility solutions include: 

  • Closed Captioning—providing onscreen text of what is being said. Most video editors (e.g., Canvas Studio, YouTube) have functions to generate these automatically. Make sure you review it and edit any misheard content. 
  • Transcripts—a document containing the written script. 
  • Audio Description of Visual Information—description of the visual information needed to understand the content for visually impaired learners. 

For some great tips on how to make these types of videos, check out  

Wesch, M. (2020). Make super simple videos for teaching online [Video]. Educause. 

Prevent Cognitive Overload

While engaging multiple senses such as sight and hearing can improve a learner’s understanding of a concept, it is easy to also overwhelm learners with too much at once. You can help learner uptake of material presented in a video with these easy solutions. 


  • Align—identify the outcome the video will help learners achieve and ask yourself if video is the best instructional option. For example, video works exceptionally well for skills demonstrations. 
  • Focus—stick to one concept or skill per video, only include content aligned to the outcome, and keep it short; three to five minutes is optimal, and videos should be no more than 10 minutes. 
  • Signal or Cue—highlight key information through onscreen text or symbols 
  • Segment—chunk information into small pieces. For example, signal learners on the breakdown using title slides in between chunks 
  • Active—include elements in your video that will have learners actively engage in the material. For example, cue them to stop the video and reflect on a question before moving forward or embed a quiz directly into the video. 
  • Reference—provide references/links to further resources related to the concept or skill for learners who want to remedial materials. 


Videos are a great addition to any online or blended course. By choosing options that create community, keep the video content accessible, and prevent cognitive overload, learners will more effectively engage with the concept or skills they are learning. 


Brame, C.J. (2015). Effective educational videos. Vanderbilt University.  

Purdue University School of Engineering Education. (2020). Video best practices for online instruction: Lecture in segments [Video]. YouTube.  

Rottman, A., & Rabidoux, S. (2017). Creating effective instructional videos for online courses. Inside Higher Ed. 

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