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