Welcome to making effective videos for education

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In this Learning X season, we will guide you through the key steps for making effective videos for education, focusing on practical and basic video creation principles in the following 5 sections: 

These steps are:  

  1. Planning 
  2. Engagement and delivery style  
  3. Video ready teaching materials  
  4. Recording video for education  
  5. Editing video for education 

Our approach in this learning X has been to give you practical advice and guidance based on evidence. We will also include tool suggestions and links to further reading and online how to video tutorials. 

While you may not consider yourself a video producer, it is hoped that this series will help you to develop your own video creation style, learning what works for you and your given audience. The video’s that you make will have an impact on your students learning, so we want to help you make the most of the opportunity to create the best, most effective video you can.

1: Planning

Stick man operating editing software
Reading Time: 5 minutes


Before you start recording you will need to plan and organise everything that will be needed for your videoProfessional videographers call this planning ‘pre-production’. A typical approach to pre-production planning is to lay out all the elements of your video into a visual structure so that you can work out how the various ‘pieces’ fit. This is the storyboarding process and will often be aided with a video script. A large part of the process will be concentrated on sequencing supporting teaching material with recorded footage. For example, you may want to introduce a diagram or short clip at a certain point when talking to the camera. This is known as the cut away or B-roll. The B-roll is essentially all your teaching material – all the material that is additional to the main footage, such as intro logos, titles and chapter headings, slides, short clips, illustrations, diagrams, infographics, animation and so on. The B-roll is planned for with the storyboard and script and then added to the video at the editing stage. It is therefore crucial to have all the teaching material video ready and storyboarded so that it can be integrated seamlessly into the video timeline. For a simple video you may only need to refer to a teaching material list and notes. However, for a more complicated video, a storyboard will help with the planning and development of your ideas.  


A good storyboard is about how well you convey your ideas, and not about how well you draw. For example, simple stick figures and symbols such as arrows are excellent shorthand for communicating ideas and instructions. This type of drawing is similar to visual note taking and has the advantage that it is quick and functional and, crucially, easy for editing and revising ideas.  

“When setting out on the project to make an animated video I had a fairly clear idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like – but when collaborating with the team to drive the project forward it could be difficult to communicate those ideas clearly! I found using storyboards a highly effective way to communicate these ideas – drawing out simple matchstick figures for the storyboard was a simple and effective way of doing this.  Andrew could then take these and produce a more graphically detailed storyboard – giving us a clear vison of what the project would look like as we progressed. Ultimately this approach provided clarity throughout, streamlined the collaboration and saved us valuable time on project delivery.” 

Stephen Watt – Student Services
example of rough pencil storyboard
Here is an example of Stephen Watt’s storyboard, produced when working in collaboration with the CTIL media team.

The storyboard gives you a picture, a visual representation, which allows you to manipulate – edit- your video content and structure in sequential order. You will see the timing and how it is structured into sections. The sections may be too long in places and too short in other areas. A longer section may, however, work better if it is broken down into two sections or chapters. Breaking down learning content in this way, into more accessible, shorter ‘chunks’, is a technique known as chunking, which brings us to the related technique of the Segmenting Principle. The Segmenting Principle states that humans learn best when information is presented in segments, rather than one long continuous stream.Mayer found that when learners can control the pace of their learning, they performed better on recall tests. We will develop this subject in more detail in our section on Engagement. 

four panel illustrations showing examples of chunking
Examples of chunking

While it is often tempting to aim for high production values with elaborate visuals, in practice the simpler approach is better for communicating concepts or instructions. Keeping it simple reduces the cognitive load, which helps to reduce distraction and to direct attention to learning.  

First, you need to identify the purpose of your video – ask yourself: what type of video? Is it an instructional video?  Who is it for? Are your audience Beginners, intermediate or advanced? How long should your video be? Where or how will it be consumed? – these considerations should give you some ideas about how to approach the question of Engagement and delivery style and what teaching materials you will need to support learning. 

It would be easy take these questions for granted. However, a question like ‘how long will the video be?’ can be crucial in determining if your video needs a script or storyboard, as well as the degree of planning required. If the video is twenty minutes or an hour-long, delivered by talking to the camera, then the need for planning, scripting, or storyboarding, will at most be minimal and, if you enjoy ad-libbing, may not be required at all.  You may find that a list of teaching material is all you need. On the other hand, a shorter video (four to five minutes) will often benefit from the structure and direction provided by a storyboard and script. 

Quick Tips  

Graphic image of sprinter in the starting blocks
  • Get everything down on paper 
  • Plan and prepare your materials in advance to save time later 
  • Simplify and chunk it up  
  • Check to see how it flows  
  • Try rearranging but keep it fluid 
  • Keep focused on the learning material 

Planning/storyboard activity  

For our planning activity think about the design process and the types of questions described above. Decide on a simple video project that can be used to work through the pre-production planning. For example, you may want to record talking to the camera and have a cut away to an illustration and then continue with the recording of talking to the camera – simple. However, this simple video will have several elements. 

 Consider the following: 

  • Title slide or image 
  • Will you break up the video footage with chapter headings? 
  • Transition to video footage 
  • Transition from footage to the illustration 
  • Do you need to ‘zoom in’ on the illustration? 
  • Does the illustration need annotation? 
  • Voice over audio continuing to explain the illustration. 
  • Transition back to recorded footage. Final transition for the end 

This is still simple and is an example of where a list is probably all you would need to organise the video. However, if you include more illustrations or diagrams and add another clip, then there are a lot more elements to keep track of – and that’s when you need a storyboard. 

We have provided our storyboard template, which was used in the example above by Stephen watt. However, feel free to use whatever storyboarding method works best for you. You may prefer to use Power point. Power point is useful for organising material into a sequence and there are power point templates for storyboarding. Alternatively, you may want to just free hand your storyboard, this is the most direct method if you are sketching out ideas. 

Once you have decided on your video project, choose a storyboard method, and work through your ideas, visualising how the video will play in sequence. A useful warm up exercise is to jot down some ideas as sketch note drawings.  

This is a work in progress and may go through several design passes. You may, for example, be designing your teaching material at this stage, but you can still rough out your ideas with simple drawing, which can help to develop your teaching material as well as your storyboard. Remember it is not about the quality of the drawing but getting your ideas over as directly as possible.


Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 





2: Engagement and delivery style

Montage of stick man images showing different video editing steps
Reading Time: 3 minutes
illustration of person sitting at a PC and looking at the monitor with a rewind icon on it

Engagement and Delivery Style  

 Engagement is how you capture your audience’s attention and create a sense of participation. If you can design your video with chapters and a playlist, then your students can actively engage with the learning material, with interactions such as pausing, forwarding, and rewinding. For example, ‘pause’ the video for a quiz or set a learning task. This may require rewinding to review sections of the video, or it may require ‘jumping’ to chapters to verify key points. Going back over material is an aspect of retrieval practice (learning scientists) Which will help improve recall. You may also point out links for further research. Students who feel actively engaged in this way will do better with retaining relevant information. For example, if students answer guided questions while watching a video, their retention of information is much better than students who passively watch the same video.  

Use the segmenting principle, which suggests that learning is better broken up into smaller, bites-sized chunks. This technique can be used in conjunction with the chunking technique, where longer sections are broken down into shorter, more accessible, chapters. The ideal length of your video chunks will depend on your content; however shorter videos can be more effective (around twenty minutes). These shorter chunks of learning material provide the learner with more control over their learning, allowing navigation through the playlist and variable speeds of replay. Many students will speed up the video to reduce the pauses and slow play of normal play speed. Another thing you can do with the playlist is to mix it up so that the order is jumbled. This is the key to learning by Interleaving, another learning technique from the learning scientists. 

illustration of a lecturer speaking in front of a camera

Delivery style is another aspect of engagement. Everyone has their own unique delivery style, their own way of delivering teaching material, and their own way of engaging with an audience. 

The most engaging videos tend to be those that have a natural, conversational delivery style. The emphasis is on natural delivery style – Keep it fluid, with natural changes of intonation. Use natural pause points between topics in your delivery – pauses are useful for editing and provide a place to seamlessly insert cuts and transitions. Of course, natural speech is not perfect, it is full of minor blunders, hesitations, and repetitions. However, these are features of conversation and part of its appeal. Natural speech makes a connection with your audience.  Your authentic delivery will be appreciated.  If a mistake needs to be corrected, keep recording and ‘retake’ that line or sentence – then fix at the editing stage. 

 Quote from Professor Iain Gillespie, Principal and Vice-chancellor 

‘Probably the best lesson I ever learned was with a media trainer some years ago pointing out some of Bill Clinton’s tricks. He was the master at making expressive gesticulations with just his fingers at around chin level – so they were always captured even with a camera head shot. That’s harder with one hand holding a camera, but just about doable!’ 


  • Decent light 
  • Don’t move the phone around too much but its ok if it wiggles a bit 
  • Speak normally, with normal intonation 
  • Smile sometimes … you have to do it deliberately! 
  • Vary your tone and pace – don’t rush at it 
  • Don’t worry if you stumble over the odd word – it’s perfectly normal! 
  • Try not to be too self- conscious about what you have just said. Only you know if you have to repeat it! 
  • Have fun 

Another aspect of delivery style is the design choices you make for your video. These includes all the visual elements, the title slides, background colours, illustration style, and in some cases even the transitions used. These visual elements will help to set the tone of the video and can make the teaching material more engaging. However, keep it simple and keep in mind the design principle of reducing the cognitive load, which will help you focus on design that aids learning.  

illustration of person with a thought bubble with a lightbulb

Quick tips

  • Actively engage your audience with guided questions 
  • Use natural pause points 
  • Keep it fluid, with natural intonation 



Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 




3: Video ready teaching materials

Stick man juggling icons representing different types of teaching materials
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Stick man juggling icons representing different types of teaching materials

What are we talking about when referring to “video ready teaching materials”? In the media world they talk about getting production assets organised. These could be your main footage (A-roll) with some supplemental (B-roll) to help explain or emphasise a topic as well as introductory pre-roll. In the world of commercial media, the purpose is to simply entertain, however, in education the purpose of the video is to educate. This can be achieved by delivering a voiceover presentation, sharing new concepts, theories, and technical information, all of which can easily overload the student’s ability to assimilate learning material. This section will be broken down to cover what we consider to be the most common video ready teaching materials for academics.

Another consideration is using supporting teaching materials for example a glossary of terms or an overview of a piece of apparatus, this will help to introduce students to new concepts and vocabulary before watching the recording. This can help to demystify the topic and reduce cognitive load in the lesson, enabling the student to focus on learning. 

The Pre-Training Principle | “People learn more deeply from a multimedia message when they know the names and characteristics of the main concepts.” (p. 189) 

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 

Therefore, we must be mindful to keep the content as focused and clean as possible, which in turn, will also make the content more accessible. Typical teaching materials used in educational videos: 

  • Slide-based presentations such as aPowerPoint show 
  • Visual aids such as diagrams, physical samples, models, pictures, video, infographics, animations… 
  • Voice over 
  • Footage, talking directly to the camera 

Keep it simple, focus on the learning 

Visual aids 

The Coherence Principle  –  “People learn better when extraneous material is excluded rather than included.” (p. 89)

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 

Studies have shown (Effects of Segmenting, Signalling, and Weeding on Learning from Educational Video) that some of the most effective instructional videos keep things clean and simple, they are highly focused, drawing attention to key information and keeping large blocks of on-screen text to a minimum. 

In higher education, it is common to use slides as your main source of footage, it is essential that you keep these as clear and focused as possible. When possible, these principles should be applied to all types of visual aids. In an earlier learning x series, we have some great examples that you can look at in the sequence and layout section.  

Stick man with information going into head


  • Only include graphics, text, and narration that support learning goals
    • Have a label close to the image they relate to 
  • Break down slides – think about reducing long bullet lists  
  • Talking directly to your students in a natural manner in front of a simple backdrop 
  • Simplify images if possible
    • Crop the image 
    • Reduce the information 
    • Do you need the image? 


  • Additional decorative images 
  • Logos (if possible) 
  • Unnecessary animation 
  • Background music 
  • Pre –roll (Opening credits, branding, animations) unless the recording is going to be out of context of your module, i.e. published to a outside institution

Title Slides / Signposting 

Title slides are a great way to break up your content as they can create chapter points and are a wonderful way of Signposting your content and can aid the ‘chunking’ . Whether they are for a separate recording or a linked chapter, title slides/chapter points are useful for transitions and edit cuts. They also allow the learner to refocus and get back on track.   

  • Break the slide deck down into clearly labelled, defined, manageable sections (as highlighted in Acquisition). This avoids the danger of information overload.  
  • Focus on one new concept at a time in the video or in a navigable link
  • Number content – Using a hierarchical numbering convention helps user identify progress and location. 

Voice over script 

Many experienced academics feel comfortable talking adlib about their subject matter, which can produce a natural delivery, helping to build the connection with the student. Counter to this, the merits of using a script, include helping you to stay on topic and hit all the key learning objectives, which again can make the content more accessible and can assist in cross-checking closed captions.  

Ultimately it comes down to the academic’s preference and the script/no script decision may come down to other factors such as (but not limited to) the length of the recording, how core the word-for-word message is to the learning outcomes and the location of the shoot.  Your script could be verbatim, or it could just cover some of the key points that you plan to cover in your recording either way you will want to be able to see your script when recording. Below are some tips and tools that can help: 

  • Notes pane in PowerPoint (viewable in presentation mode) 
  • Word document (if you do not have video of yourself, it can be a lot easier to use a physical or digital script)
  • How to use Microsoft Word as a teleprompter
  • Web based free teleprompter software
  • YouTube link: 09:02 Apps that replace a teleprompter for iPad and iPhone (Video Teleprompter)
  • YouTube link: Teleprompter App for Android (Nano Teleprompter) 
iPad with Script
Example using the iPad with a teleprompter

Seductive Details

While it can be tempting to include anecdotes and entertaining stories, we must be mindful of the cognitive load of the student and keep the focus on learning. We know that Concrete Examples can aid the learner’s ability to understand complex ideas, so, if you feel the anecdote or example really adds to the learning without overshadowing the content then include it.  Similarly, if you have a relevant entertaining anecdote, it is advised that it is added at the end of the presentation so that it is not competing with the educational content.

”… it is important to understand that catchy and fun concrete examples can potentially overshadow the essential understanding by drawing students’ attention to the fun (seductive) surface information at the expense of them grasping the underlying principle (the reason you used the example in the first place). This is what the majority of research presented in this talk seems to suggest (although there are counterexamples (1) and (2), too). In any case, after offering students with multiple concrete examples for an abstract principle make sure that you highlight to them how the examples are linked to the principle you are trying to explain.”

From the blog post & talk from the session Effects of Seductive Details on Learning and Memory – A Reflection  from Dr Carolina Kuepper-Tetzel from the University of Glasgow (formerly from UoD)

Discussion point

Stickman pointing at you

Considering the seductive details argument, can you think of examples of concrete examples that are relevant to your discipline?
How/when might you share constructive anecdotes with your students outside of your teaching materials?


4: Recording video for education

Mobile phone settings
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Stick man at mic


The videos that you create will have an impact on your students learning. The COVID pandemic has changed the way a lot of videos for education have been recorded. Pre-pandemic, our work with the digital media team, we had the opportunity and luxury of working directly with academics, walking them through the creation process. We would then plan, shoot, and edit your educational video for you. However there has now been a shift from using high-end kit and software to using inbuilt cameras and mics with video conferencing software and presentation software to record content.

This adoption of accessible technology allows a shift to the ‘give it a go yourself’ approach and is something that the CTIL team love about our academic community at the University of Dundee.

You may not have a great deal of experience in recording content and feel a certain amount of anxiety about undertaking a video project, however, we can help by showing you common pitfalls to avoid and give you quick pointers to help you create the most effective content you can – without taking up more of your valuable time. This is also an opportunity to build on the experience that you have built up during the pandemic by utilising and improving what you have learned so far. 

This section will focus on evidence-based practises that will help make your videos more effective and engaging learning resources. 

Proviso – we can all point at examples of people not doing the ‘correct thing’ but still making great content so please see these tips and guides as exactly that – a guide.  Feel free to experiment to suit your style. 

Video from David Millar – This video covers some of the best practises to think about when creating video. 

Level of Quality

As mentioned in the introduction academics do not tend to have access to the best production equipment, such as professional lighting, visual effects, props, professional backdrops, and high-end audio. The good news, however, is that, except for the audio, a high level of production does not impact greatly on the learning experience. We want to focus on what will give you the best return, from an educational standpoint, when recording content. A low budget does not necessarily equate to a low-quality video. 

Stick man director

…only audio quality has any effect on learning. Background noise, hiss and other audio imperfections are very distracting and increase cognitive load. Other aspects of production that make videos appear ‘professional’ have almost no impact on learning. The lesson here can be summarised as “the biggest gain is in going from no video to having a video”. There is some research to support this. A study showed that adding videos to medical professionals’ profile pages increased visitor satisfaction over those with text only but there was no difference when the production value was increased.

From the paper Creating and using instructional videos in university teaching: Answers to common questions – By Dominik Lukes: 

Top tips: 

  • Focus on sound as a priority 
  • Eye level with camera 
  • Natural as possible 
  • Reduce cognitive load
    • Clear simple background 
    • Visuals are clear, legible and needed 
    • Face lighting source 
illustration of person with a thought bubble with a lightbulb

Audio settings 

Capture at the best audio quality that you can, this is essential for both the learning and in turn the accessibility of the recording, as the quality of the recording directly impacts the accuracy of automatic speech recognition ASR. Once audio is recorded it is very hard and time-consuming to edit out additional noises. Therefore, look for a quiet place to record, pay attention to any potential background noise, such as a hum or hiss that might be present in the room, also turn off any notifications from devices in the room. Where possible, use a dedicated mic, such as a headset mic, low-cost lapel mic or a desk USB mic.  Video clips of recording with and without a £6 lapel mic: 

Test using Android Pixel & No mic
Test using Android Pixel with mic

Some tips from JISC Video captioning and accessibility regulations: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/video-captioning-and-accessibility-regulations  Here are some tips sourced from the Jisc accessibility community: 

“Always use a mic. Wired is more reliable than Bluetooth.”  

“Do a test recording before session to check the quality.”  

“Minimise background noise. This can be as simple as closing the door to your office.” 

“Use the full version of abbreviations and acronyms – this is good practice anyway, but ASR often struggles with these eg for WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines)…” 

“Speak at a steady pace. Many students will appreciate this too e.g. English not as first language speakers; those with language processing difficulties or difficulties with focusing…” 

Camera settings 

Depending on the device, often the default setting will be of a good enough quality for educational purposes. Check if your device allows you to record on one of the highest settings (1080HD for example). This will ensure that you start with the best quality that you can, and it also gives you the opportunity to zoom in when editing if you want the student to focus on a particular part.

Mobile phone settings
Typical mobile phone settings (swipe right on Android)

Camera Position 

Using multiple camera angles and different levels of zoom is a common feature of YouTube videos. However, this is not necessary for educational recordings. Making a direct connection with the learner is more important, you don’t want to be looking down or up at the student since this sends signals of an unbalanced power relationship. To help foster this connection and level relationship, that is so important in university education, it is best to look directly at the student. This means looking at the camera lens (sometimes they are hard to spot on camera phones) and having the lens positioned at eye level. This may not always be possible and it might not be essential or advantageous to have your face on camera, but when you do if you could increase the amount of time that you look into the camera it will help build your relationship with your students. 

three different camera potions final one at eye level correct
Stick man looking directly at lens on mobile phone


Lighting has an impact on the mood of the recording as well as an impact on the accessibility of the recording, some viewers may need to clearly see the lips of the presenter to help reinforce what is being said. The clarity and mood can also be impacted positively or negatively with lighting. 

Ideally, it is best to face a natural light source such as a window, if this is not possible still focus on the principle of having the light source in front of you as best as you can. It is also worth considering turning down the brightness of your laptop/screen since as this can washout the image, particularly if you don’t have supporting lighting.  

Stick man with tick when facing natural light source

Exercise – Recording with your phone  

Using some of the tips that you picked up during this learning X you might want to experiment and see if you can put any of the tips into practise. Below is a link to a Miro board that has some additional tips on recording specifically with a mobile phone, please feel free to use this and share with your students if it’s useful: Miro Board – Mobile video workshop


The brief is simple, pick an object in your room and tell us about it. 

  • 30 – 60 seconds 
  • Focus on sound, able to hear the presenter 
  • Have the object and subject in the frame 
  • Think of camera position
  • Think about lighting 
  • Self-critique the video 
  • Bonus points: Upload to YuJa and share the video link in the chat. 

My effort: 

Scar the Skull


  • Sound and lighting are good. 
  • Natural no script needed in this situation 
  • A bit far from the subject 
  • Not at a good eye line 
  • Busy background 
  • The door is open in shot (cropped out in edit)

5: Editing video for education

Timeline example
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Stick man operating editing software


 In this section we will cover basic editing principles, while trying not to focus too heavily on any specific program, focusing instead on the similarities between various platforms and core principles when editing. We will also keep central how you can use the editing process as another opportunity to maximise the effectiveness of your educational video content. We have all fallen prey to some of the techniques that video makers use to keep us engaged in their content, a countdown list or a promise of a reveal of a certain fact, so let see if we can utilise the editing process to help keep the focus and the engagement of the learner. 

The Timeline 

The timeline brings together all the content that you have you have been developing when making your educational video project, it is almost like your storyboard coming to life and the timeline interface is a key part of any editing program. This enables authors to lay out a video project in a linear fashion horizontally across a monitor. Depending on the software the timeline usually consists of blocks of footage laid out sequentially. Typically, these timelines have layers so that you can place content over the content below. Some software also separates the audio and the video into separate layers so that you can make alterations to them independently if needed.   

Timeline example
Graphic timeline example
7 steps to video editing 
 #1 Organise your files 

Import and organise your files just as you would in normal practise. This may just take the form of bringing all the raw footage and graphics into one location or you may, depending on the complexity of your recording, want to further separate individual folders into sections. It might also be useful to adopt a naming convention: so for example, a visual aid of a frog in section 1 could be ‘frog_VA-1.jpg’ 

#2 Watch your footage  

If you have multiple versions, this is a good time to review your footage and to familiarise yourself with the content so that you can select the best takes and shots.  

#3 Begin to edit 

Roughly place your content out on the timeline, organise all your best takes and assets in sequential order on your timeline, this is called an assembly edit. 

#4 Fine cutting 

Cut the shots down, topping and tailing is basically just trimming a bit off the beginning and the end of your shots, this might be a pause, or you are setting up. You can also consider removing/cutting any longer pauses. Pauses are a good point for editing and setting up transitions, which will help the pace of the recording so that the student remains engaged. Adding transitions may be slightly more advanced, and should be used with cautiously, again they have the potential to distract the learner for the core message. 

#5 Watch over 

To help you to identify slower parts, watch over your complete video sequence. If you can, re-watch your video with fresh eyes. This allows you to have a fresh ‘take’ on the content and can also help you to identify areas that need further development or explanation.   

#6 Build up your edit 

Consider adding b-roll, title cards, and text call outs – important facts that you want to bring to the learners attention. Be mindful of the learner’s cognitive load and only include graphics, text, and animation that supports learning goals. For this reason, do not include decorative b-roll – this will just compete with the learner’s attention.  Titles can be used as chapter points, and this can aid the learner’s control of the video. 

Remember to layout all your titles in a separate layer so that you can overlay the tile on the relevant footage and can aid editing. 

#7 Export and upload 

When you export from your video editing program you will commonly be given the options as to the format and the quality. Fortunately, YuJa (the university of Dundee’s video management platform) will allow you to upload multiple video file formats so this should not be a concern, MP4 is common file format to export to. In terms of quality, it is a good idea to check that you are exporting at a high bit rate and file size, 1080 HD. 

Links to editing resources

YouTube links:

Stickman pointing at you

How do you edit your videos?

Let us know in the comments below how you like to edit your videos. There is a vast array of editing programs from basic to complex, for example, I have seen some great results using PowerPoint to capture and edit presentations. So please let us know what works for you, and it would be great to know if you would find a workshop focusing on editing as being a useful exercise. 

Summary and references

Stick man with information going into head
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Montage of stick man images showing different video editing steps

Summary and references 

Making an effective video for learning does not need to be complicated. In fact, reducing complexity is best, and this is a recurring theme throughout the series; ‘keeping it simple’ follows the cognitive load principle, helping to make your educational video as accessible as possible, while also helping students to better assimilate or take on relevant learning material. It is hoped that this design approach will minimise time spent on distracting supplementary material and help maintain the focus on content that is key to learning. 

Stick man with information going into head

Our aim in this series was not to put constraints on the already time pressured academic but to provide evidence based practical advice to help you create effective learning materials, regardless of limited resources and experience. 

When embarking on your next video project, consider some of the key takeaways and ask yourself: 

  • What is the purpose of this recording? 
  • What level is the student at? 
  • Audio matters – use a mic and as quite an environment as possible 
  • Is this the type of video that would benefit from storyboard planning?
  • Breakdown your content
  •  Could a script help you stay on track? 
  • Is this going to make the recording accessible? 
  • Face the light, look at the lens and be at eye level 
  • Do we need this elaborate; diagram, anecdote, cutaway, video… 
  • A video is better than no video 

Making this series has been a thought-provoking experience for us. Not only does it bring to question the whole approach of creating educational videos, but it also highlights our role in imparting advice to the academic community. If you have some other key areas you would like us to consider, which could be included in a revised series in the future, then please let us know by commenting below. 

References and further reading 

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 

The Segmenting Principle technique – Blog post by By Andrew DeBell – “How to use Mayer’s 12 Principles of Multimedia [Examples Included]”
Cognitive Load Theory – Blog post by Galen Davis and Marie Norman – “Principles of Multimedia Learning”
Learning Scientists, Retrieval Practice and Processing from THE LEARNING SCIENTISTS – Creative Commons
Concrete Examples
Mayer’s 12 principles of multimedia learning – Blog post by By Andrew DeBell “How to use Mayer’s 12 Principles of Multimedia [Examples Included]”
Effects of Seductive Details on Learning and Memory – A Reflection From the blog post & talk from  Dr Carolina Kuepper-Tetzel from the University of Glasgow (formerly from UoD
Signposting– From previous ABC Learning X
Acquisition– From previous ABC Learning X
sequence and layoutFrom previous design& layout Learning X
Paper Creating and using instructional videos in university teaching: Answers to common questions – By Dominik Lukes: 

Links to editing and recording resources
YouTube links:


Cognitive Load Theory: Structuring Learning Materials for Maximum Retention