There is a maxim claiming that ‘actions speak louder than words’. Even if you disagree, we know that actually showing someone how to accomplish a task can often be the best way to explain it. Unfortunately we can’t always explain in person. This is where video can help.

Demonstration, or explainer videos, provide an opportunity to show what you mean. The purpose of this kind of video is to focus on procedures, techniques and model behaviours. Instructional videos that demonstrate the practical ‘how to’ content of your subject play a valuable role in blended learning.

Why bother explaining through a video?

An old LX post on the video revolution in learning and teaching is worth a visit at this point. In that post the Pedagogic Roles for Video are explored and we are reminded of the visual, aural, linguistic, spatial, and gestural modes that video as a communication medium affords. These are all part of a Multi-modal approach. Basically, all that means is that video is a great way to show students how to do stuff.

A video demonstration can help explain concepts, reinforce ideas, outline procedures and point out what is important. As the teacher, you model, identify and signpost the essentials step-by-step. For the student, observing an exemplary approach in a video can still be effective, especially when you follow up and support the viewing experience through some form of interactivity.

Despite the dramatic and engaging potential of live demonstrations, a video can still captivate and engage students. Videos that can be conveniently replayed and shared, can still lead to successful student outcomes. Ask your students to watch a demonstration at home before class and then, having done so, they can put into practice what they have learnt in class time.

It’s a matter of convenience (usually)

Time, resources and the facilities for live class demonstrations are not always available. Perhaps getting access to sites and locations is prohibitive. Self-guided learning and experimentation in some disciplines can be expensive or simply dangerous. Video gives you the ability to time-shift difficult live demonstrations, making them controllable and repeatable.

Of course, not all activities can use video as a replacement for the real thing. Sometimes, students just have to get their hands dirty and experience the learning that situational awareness brings.

Is there a recipe for an effective demonstration video?

What type of video you cook up can depend on whether you are modelling expert behaviours, imparting practical knowledge and skills, outlining connections and procedures, or presenting cases and scenarios. In any of these, your approach is likely to be informed by the functional, academic and pedagogical requirements of what you will be demonstrating.

Cartoon illustration of a man presenting a variety of food ingredients to a mobile phone as a camera mounted on a tripod

Choosing the style and technique of your video will relate to the specifics of your audience (the students) and their context (the topic or discipline). Some of the techniques readily available to you include using live action recording, screen recording and pencasts. Seeing authentic examples of other demonstration videos can give you ideas for your own.

In these UTS examples, video helps to:

If you wrap your video demonstration in a creative and entertaining (content warning: coarse language) presentation style and technique, you end up with an instructional video that is memorable, has impact and is something worth sharing.

Get help to make your own demonstration video

Make your demonstration video in the LX.lab Media Space or with the help of the LX.lab’s Media Team. The media team can assist you with a wide range of services related to video in learning and teaching at UTS, including production assistance and equipment loans.

Once you have a video, talk with the LX.lab about how you can embed the video in your online subject and add an element of interactivity.

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