Suggestions for Effective Video Lectures

Here are 10 quick tips for creating more interactive (and thus more effective) mini-lecture videos. A few of the tips utilize the specific tools in the Janux platform, but most of them can be applied to any lecture– live or on video.

Before you get started, determine the purpose of your lecture. Will you clarify the reading/course materials? Impart new information? Explain processes? Answering these questions will help you make decisions about the structure of your video and the tools you’ll want to utilize.


  1. Outline your talk for the students: Explain the basic outline of your talk in Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 2.36.37 PMthe video, both verbally and visually. What is your overall point? What topics will you address? Consider starting with a central question or questions that this module will address/answer.
  2. Segment: Split the videos according to those main points. Include a clear title on each of them, explaining again how this segment fits in to your module.
  3. Short and Sharp: Single concept videos of 6 minutes or less are most effective. Research shows that speaking relatively quickly, as you would in a conversation, is easiest to follow. Translate jargon into your own terms to achieve a more conversational presentation.
  4. Target your Learning Objectives: How does the information in your video serve your overall learning objectives? Answering this question aloud can help you make your goals more explicit to students and streamline the content of your course.


  1. Think about your visuals last: Think about your main message, structure its supporting points—and then start thinking about your pictures/slides/illustrations. This will make them complementary to your verbal/audio elements, rather than redundant.
  2. With text, less is more: Avoid frames with a lot of text, especially if it’s a repeat of what you’re saying.
  3. Matching modality: Fit the particular type of information to the most appropriate channel (audio/verbal and visual/pictorial). For example, Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 2.32.49 PMshow an animation
    of a process on screen while narrating it. Use Khan-style symbolic sketches to illustrate the verbal explanation information. When teaching about an invisible phenomenon, provide a visual metaphor. Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 2.40.39 PM
    Use a “mask” to highlight particular information on a frame.

Student Engagement

  1. Activate Prior Knowledge or Misconceptions: Start the video by asking students to recall, predict, or hypothesize. (e.g. “Before we get into international relations theory, what/who do you think the main players in these reltionships would be? Why?) You could utilize the “notes” function in Janux to have students record and share their responses. At the end of the video, ask students to Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 2.30.53 PMreflect on their initial responses (e.g. After hearing about the three main IR theories, evaluate your initial response using this new knowledge).
  2. Include Response Questions: Insert a question or two in your video and require student response. With Janux, you can have students enter a public note with their responses.
  3. Storytelling: Start with a narrative—an example, metaphor, anecdote, or personal experience. Use photos or animation to illustrate the story.


Research Consulted

Brame, C.J. (2015). Effective educational videos. Retrieved 2/6/2015 from

Guo PJ, Kim J, and Robin R (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. ACM Conference on Learning at Scale (L@S 2014); found at

Hsin WJ and Cigas J (2013). Short videos improve student learning in online education. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges 28, 253-259.

Thomsen A, Bridgstock R, and Willems C (2014). ‘Teachers flipping out’ beyond the online lecture: Maximising the educational potential of video. Journal of Learning Design 7, 67-78.

Schroeder, Gwen. “Tips for Better Slide Decks.” TED Blog

Vural OF (2013). The impact of a question-embedded video-based learning tool on e-learning. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice 13, 1315-1323.

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