Teaching Through Video: Video Production in Education
The internet and mobile technology have changed most aspects of our daily lives: how we get the news, how we shop, how we listen to music and watch films, even how we date and fall in love.
However, one truly revolutionary aspect of these technologies is their potential to truly bend the arc of history and to change the lives of millions of individuals and entire societies. I’m talking about online education.
Online education really can bring world-class teaching to anyone, any time they need it, in any format they can access. No matter whether you live in Boston or Botswana. Top universities such as Stanford and Harvard have led the path here with their freely available online classes, but there is still so much more that’s possible.
Little wonder then that we often get approached by our clients in the education sector to help them with creating bespoke online teaching materials. This trend has of course now only been accelerated by the need for social distancing, making in-person tuition harder or entirely impossible.
Having literally produced hundreds of education videos and animations, across a wide range of topics, formats, audiences, lengths, and accessibility requirements, we’ve put together a quick guide for anyone who wants to get started with teaching through video. We’ve refined this guide over nearly a decade of working with clients ranging from Cambridge University, Chicago Booth Business School, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), to even small businesses who have seen the value of video in delivering staff education.
WHY: what are the benefits of educational videos and animation?
If you’ve landed on this page you are likely already aware of a few benefits of online education, but we believe it’s helpful to have a quick checklist
With online education you can potentially reach global target audiences or – equally important – your students or staff can access training from anywhere anytime. Ensuring that content is created with accessibility best practices in mind is of course essential
Online education means students can access content when they are in the right frame of mind to take in the content. It allows them to pause, repeat, even to adjust the speed of the delivery.
Video and in particular motion graphics enable you to create a learning experience that has the potential to be much richer, and thus engaging and memorable, than what might be possible in the classroom.
Because training and teaching videos can be reused (and easily updated if needed) they can lead to significant cost savings over in-person lectures that are delivered in person to a relatively small group.
One common concern with educational video production is the perception that it lacks the interactive nature of the classroom format. This is true for a straightforward recording of a lecture, but from our experience this is a relatively rare case. In our work with clients we often find a combination of recorded segments with interactive elements (e.g. via forms, surveys, chatbots, or live segments via video conferencing tools) to be a winning solution.
An increasing amount of workplace education is required by law (e.g. around employee safety, customer data protection, ethics and code of conduct). Delivering this content via video vs. in-person, allows you to ensure that content is delivered accurately as intended, without any variation or potential omissions. It’s also easy to record completion of online trainings.
WHAT: typical formats of online education
One of the strengths of online education is of course that the possibilities are virtually endless. You can combine recorded lectures and tutorials, straight-to-camera teaching, 3rd-party content, animations, motion graphics, etc. In our work with clients we have found the following types of formats to be popular, but of course each of these can be customised for the needs and goals at hand
A recording of the class-room experience, enhanced in post production through multiple viewpoints and interspersed still graphics or animation.
In this format the instructor records straight to camera, often from their office, and we assemble the footage with explanatory graphics, stock imagery or video, etc. The benefit of this format is that it can be done entirely contactless – a big benefit given current covid restrictions, but also a real cost saver.
For this format we approach the educational project as a documentary filmmaker would. The motto here is ‘show, don’t tell’. The teacher in this case may be a narrator who will be largely off screen. This format leaves the most creative freedom, and can also be very cost efficient, in particular if we work with existing 3rd party or stock video content (much of which is available royalty free).
HOW: the production process – start to end
Given the range of possibilities, it’s important to get clarity at the outset on a few core pillars that will define you educational video production.
Engagement, reach, recall, cost savings, etc.
What are the video habits and expectations of your audience – this will drive decisions around platform (mobile, web, TV), style, length, etc.
Content & Learnings
What are the concepts you’d like your audience to understand and internalise? Here is where the creativity and experience of the production agency and the subject matter and didactic expertise of the client meet. It’s also where we typically spend most time with our clients. Investing time and energy at this point of the creative process really pays off later on and it’s the foundation of a successful online education production.
Once there’s clarity on the above we can start defining what format the online education experience should take. The section above gives a rough overview on the typical formats we’ve encountered over the years, but we will create with you what is best for you and your audience.
This was a quick run-through the endless possibilities of online education. As we said at the outset, humanity has only scratched at the surface of what’s possible via online education. We are proud and humbled to have been part of this journey with some of the best-known educational institutions in the world. Get in touch to chat about what we can create together for your audience.