Creating Effective Educational Videos

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Creating Effective Educational Videos

Key Findings

  • Formulate clear objectives for the video
  • Work from a storyboard
  • Work from a script
  • Design an educational video using the same principles as for designing a course
  • Do not overload the viewer
  • Combine videos with other materials to reinforce learning
  • Create engaging videos


This report provides 7 best practices for creating effective educational videos.

Educational videos are now used in many learning settings, across a broad spectrum of subjects, and student age levels. Great value can be captured by improving the quality of these videos.

All the 7 points discussed below have been identified by the Center for Teaching and Learning at Columbia University as best practices.

Formulate clear objectives for the video

Whatever, the goals, make them clear to students so that they can focus their learning.

Work from a storyboard

  • A storyboard is just as much an essential tool for making great educational videos as it is for making a blockbuster movie. The celebrated movie director Ridley Scott is well-known for his prodigious use of storyboards to develop and communicate visual ideas.
  • The storyboard is essentially a plan in visual form; the process of preparing it fleshes out preliminary ideas, helping bad ones to be rejected and good ones to be retained.
  • Once completed, it provides an outline that can be used by writers to prepare text and graphic designers to prepare visuals.

Work from a script

Apply the same principles as for course design

  • Consider what balance the video will strike between teacher-directed instruction and inquiry-based learning.
  • McKinsey analysis of a large data set from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), administered by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), covering more than 0.5 million students in 72 countries in 2015, suggests that a mix of the two approaches produces the most effective educational outcomes.
  • Providing opportunities in the video for students to engage in inquiry-based learning is not easy to do, but it is important because it allows them to learn by constructing their own meaning to information in the video.

Do not overload the viewer

Combine videos with other materials to reinforce learning

  • Learning therefore requires time and reinforcement.
  • It is a process not a single event; it requires selecting, filtering, organizing, processing, integrating, and synthesizing information multiple times.
  • Videos should not be standalone tools but rather a suite of linked materials like quizzes, short written exercises, reflection activities, discussion sessions, and online posts that all work together to reinforce learning.

Make videos engaging

Research Strategy

The above practices have been identified as 'best in class’ by the Center for Teaching and Learning at Columbia University. The Center is widely recognized as an eminent expert in the field. It is experienced with the design and production of educational videos since they are part of the resources and tools it makes available to educators.

Some ideas raised by the Center are also supported by a large worldwide study performed by the global consulting firm, McKinsey. We also came across several academic researchers who work in the education space support the ideas of the Center.

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