Best Practices for Video Recordings



1. Ask questions and give wait time


As educators, we know how important it is to check for understanding during instruction. Building in these moments for students to process information and interact with the content doesn't have to stop if you're making asynchronous learning materials.

For lower-level questions that you pose in your recording, pause your teaching (but not the video recording) for at least 5 seconds so that students have thinking time. 5 or more full seconds may feel like forever, just like it does in a live classroom, but students will appreciate the space to think of responses to your questions. 

When you ask students to do a task, give clear directions that they should pause the video and do the task on their own. Be specific about what they should accomplish on their own before they push "play" and rejoin the recording.


2. Have your camera on


We know how important personal connections are for learning. Having your camera on when teaching and using a screen recording tool that captures your face as well as your audio and screen can help you and your students stay connected. 


3. Add in moments of personal connection, joy and kindness


Just because you are recording lessons doesn't mean that you have to be a stranger. Rather than jumping right into a lesson, start your video the way you might start your class. Giving the big camera a big smile and saying something like, "Hi class! I woke up this morning to the best sunrise after the fog lifted, and it made me grateful for the beautiful place we live in. I hope that you can get out and safely enjoy this season in the next few days," can be a great way to add a personal touch to recordings. Consider also using a fact of the day, joke, or observation - whatever fits with your personal teaching style. :)


4. Follow the 6-minute rule


Researchers at MIT and EdX did a large-scale analysis of online courses a few years ago, and one of their recommendations was that videos - and specifically, videos for direct instruction - should be kept to 6 minutes or less. While the six minute mark isn't an exact marker for where engagement drops off (5:50 vs. 6:10 probably doesn't make much of a difference), it is a useful benchmark to keep in mind. 

If you're recording a longer activity, like the Instruction part of a lesson, you can keep to the spirit of the 6 minute rule by making sure that there are meaningful checks for understanding, pauses, or quick breaks in your longer video.  Thinking in terms of 6 minute intervals will help you know when to add pauses, breaks and activities into your recordings.


5. Include physical cues where possible


Even though you're making a video, you can still mix up your teaching methods and include kinesthetic learning.  Try including physical cues in your direct instruction. For example, you might say, "Ok, before I try this I want you to point in the direction you think the the sprite will move," and then pause for a few seconds. Instructing students to do a quick stand up and stretch or to repeat a new vocabulary word out loud are also ways to keep their bodies engaged and learning.


6. Focus your videos


Students learning online are often asked to navigate through huge amounts of content in order to find key information. One way to help students access the right content is to keep videos focused on one content area. For example, create one video for introducing one coding technique, and another video for the next technique. Add clear titles and descriptions so they can quickly reference what they need in order to learn.   


7. Use drawing tools


Use drawing tools when possible to emphasize where students’ attention should be during video recordings. Experiment with using different pointers, colors, and shading. Loom desktop includes a strong suite of drawing tools that you can use when recording. You can also use a low-cost tablet drawing tablet like this one that connects to your computer just like a mouse and makes it easy to annotate the screen. 

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