Video production and learning design are important skills for creating instructional videos, however, as academics prefer to focus on quality of learning content, they need an agile process to create their own videos. Importantly, some decisions that are made during the video production process can influence student engagement. Here are some tips that incorporate technical video production and learning design that can help you to create an active learning environment. For more, be sure to check out our upcoming workshop Tooltime: DIY video for Learning and Teaching at the LX.lab!

Shorter is sweeter

There’s a good chance you’re probably not going to become the next Stephen Spielberg anytime soon, so how are we going to keep your video engaging? Start by keeping it short and sweet. Plan what you’ll say before recording to keep you well prepared and on topic. In total, research shows that you should keep your video under 6 minutes. If you need more time, aim to segment your videos into chunks shorter than 6 minutes. That being said, students may still be tempted to click away, so we recommend that you put the most important parts of your topic at the start of your video.

Flip your smart device

Okay, so now you’ve found a quiet place and some natural light and it’s time to film your video, but wait! You’re going to want to film it the right way. If you’re filming with a phone or tablet, flip it horizontally and film that way. When you film vertically you end up with unappealing black bars on the sides of the video, giving you a different aspect ratio than most video players are accustomed to. So hold your phone on the side while recording.

Let’s talk editing

Once you’ve completed shooting, it’s now time to edit! And there’s a few free options as well.

  • Mac users –  iMovie is a great and easy to recommend program. It’s FREE and available on most Mac computers.
  • PC users – Windows Movie Maker was a great tool, but unfortunately is no longer supported. Instead, I suggest OpenShot Video Editor, a free and easy-to-use editing program. There’s a great tutorial of it available here.
  • iPad users – If you filmed on your iPad, there’s a great app available called LumaFusion. Note – this app isn’t free, but it does go for the very fair price of $30.99.
  • Finally, if you’re planning to upload via Kaltura or YouTube– there’s some basic editing options built right into both platforms!

Want to learn more?

Not enough? Want to learn more? Register below for the workshop at the LX.lab.

Tooltime: DIY video for Learning and Teaching | 9 April

During the session we will be talking about:

  • Video pre-production guidelines that can improve student engagement
  • Tips for using software technology and smart devices to generate educational videos.
  • Tips for production – choosing a location, framing your shot, lighting, and audio.
  • Advice on choosing the right video editing software for you.



  • Great tips Matt! I would also add that it is worthwhile to buy a lavalier mic to plug into your phone/tablet. The Aputure A.Lav is great value (about $50) and connects to headphone jackets in most devices (or to a dongle). The cable is nice and long too 🙂

    • Agreed! The RODE Smartlav+ is great as well. And we have them available to borrow as well over here at IML! 🙂

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