So, you’ve decided to create asynchronous lecture content? That’s excellent! Now, you’re here wondering how to make sure that you’re creating materials that your students will watch and even learn from. While there may not be any one-size-fits-all solution or formula for successful learning, we can offer some tips that will help ensure you keep pedagogy in mind throughout the process.
First, there are so many components than integrate in order to create engaging and meaningful lecture materials and sometimes it’s tough to know exactly where to start. The first thing to consider should be a lesson plan. More information about lesson planning can be found on our lesson planning resource site. From there, though, there are still various components to consider: slide presentations, process demonstrations (e.g., software demonstrations, hand calculations), audio (both script and sound effects), and video (both screen sharing and webcam). Now, you might not be including all of these components. But, it’s worth going over each of them.
Most of the time, you can start by making sure that your presentation is aesthetically pleasing. There are intuitive expectations that people have when watching media such that, when these “rules” are broken, something feels “off”. More about media aesthetics can be found on our Best Practices for Creating Quality Educational Videos page. Many of the tips from that site (e.g., choose an external microphone) can be backed by both Media Production literature and pedagogical literature. For example, choosing an external microphone is a media production tip to increase the quality of your voice. Incidentally, this increases the signal (that’s you) and decreases the noise (that’s your dishwasher or computer fan, for example). Increasing the signal while decreasing the noise helps to reduce students’ cognitive load. The less they have to do to pay attention to your message, the more mental resources they will have available to learn from it. In short, our Top 5 Tips for creating quality educational videos can be applied to pedagogical tips as well:
- Ensure quality internet connection
- Ensure quality audio
- Be mindful of screen content sizing
- Consider whether it’s appropriate to have your webcam included
- If you’re including webcam footage, be mindful of framing and lighting
There seems to be a fine line between engaging lecture slides and distracting ones. That line is so fine that we might consider the category boundary between engaging and distracting a very large one. In fact, while some students might find certain components of a slide deck engaging, others might find those same components distracting. It goes back to the argument that Universal Design for Learning theory posits that there is no one-size-fits all solution for teaching and learning. Still, there are a few common themes that might help increase how visually appealing your slides are while simultaneously avoiding distracting your audience.
Just like your lecture slides, certain aspects of lecture videos can be more cognitively demanding than others. The central theme, here, is to reduce the cognitive load necessary to learn from your lecture videos. Most of the tips stem from Richard Mayer’s 12 principles for multimedia learning. Still, there are a few overall tips to offer!
In a face-to-face format, there are several instances and opportunities to be able to interact with your audience. Hence, there are a number of ways to, very naturally, involve your students in your lecture. In an online and asynchronous environment, however, we need to be a little more creative to create active learning opportunities.
Structure your videos to create active learning opportunities by using guiding questions, integrating reflection points into your videos, inserting knowledge checks, and utilizing discussion forums. Don’t forget that you can ask your students to pause the video to complete tasks like posting to forums.
Now that you’ve considered both aesthetics and pedagogy, while creating your engaging lecture videos, please don’t forget to consider accessibility. Following Universal Design for Learning, we have created a few tips to help you ensure your materials are accessible for all learners! Please visit our Creating Accessible Lecture Videos page.