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Video Learning Best Practices: Instructional Design

  • 4 Min Read

The second in a series of three, this post looks at how to incorporate video learning into instructional design.


Video is a great learning tool. Whether it’s presentations, collaboration, lectures, or soft skills assessment, video can help keep learners engaged and entertained throughout their online courses. This post, the second in a series examining best practices for video production, instructional design and assessment, delves into the ins and outs of incorporating video learning into instructional design.

Video content can be a great instructional tool and can help you to create more effective and engaging experiences for your learners. It does this in a few ways:

Demonstrating concepts

Video can help you to clearly explain concepts and the relationships between them to your learners by showing them how everything fits together. Think about it in terms of trying to explain an equation – it’s often more effective to show learners how to work through an equation, demonstrating how all its parts work together, rather than explaining it with text.

Providing a multi-sensory experience

Even when there isn’t an obvious demonstrative aspect to video, the visual and auditory cues it offers may create a more well-rounded learning experience than is possible with other mediums. For example, text-based content is reliant on the interpretive capabilities of the learner: some people read faster than others; some are better at visualizing text-based descriptions; and some learners are better at retaining information from text.

Video accounts for various learning capacities by tapping into multiple senses and styles of understanding. It helps ensure that all learners come away with a similar understanding.

Providing a dynamic experience

Video provides more variation, which can help keep learners engaged and prevent boredom. Whereas text-based content is limited to variations of font, style, color, and maybe images, video can incorporate different movements, perspectives, animations, and voice-overs or sounds to keep things interesting.

Whether you source video for your learning programs, or produce it yourself, you should first figure out if it’s actually right for you. Here are some things to consider before you incorporate video into your instructional design:

Is your course suitable for video?

Video suits some courses or topics more than others. It’s ideal for “evergreen” content that doesn’t need to change significantly over time, as repeatedly revising videos is often an involved process.

For example, in a course on leadership development, video could be well-suited for a module about “Fundamental Skills for Good Leaders,” as the content will tend to remain relevant over time. On the other hand, it might not be as useful for a module on “Traits of This Year’s Most Effective Leaders,” as the content would quickly become outdated.

How should your course content be consumed?

You’ll want to incorporate video into your instructional design in a way that best suits your instructional purposes. The key thing to consider here is how your course content should best be consumed.

Facilitated courses

If your plan is to use video content only to supplement other activities, then it can be easily incorporated into your course. In courses where video is just one of many tools used to facilitate discussions, lectures, or workshops, there are already lots of other elements in the learning experience that will help keep learners engaged throughout the course.

Some video solutions may even allow you to combine live video streaming, polling, and real-time audience discussion to create really engaging presentations for both in-person and remote audiences.

Unfacilitated courses

However, if learning is self-guided, or even lacking an active instructor, you’ll need to put thought into how to use video content in a way that keeps your learners engaged. Video can be a very passive experience and it’s possible that learners will “zone out” while watching. So, simply uploading a series of long presentations or lecture recordings won’t be enough to keep them engaged. Diversifying both video content and course activities can help keep learners in the zone.

Also, incorporating some sort of follow-up after a video – whether it’s basic comprehension quizzes or more involved discussion forums – can encourage learners to pay attention and keep them engaged. You can even incorporate video-based assessment to promote ongoing engagement over video. Learners can respond to content from the course and demonstrate what they’ve learned.

Don’t forget – change it up

Remember, not all video needs to be serious and instructional. There’s nothing wrong with adding some humor to your own videos, or even curating entertaining YouTube clips. The key thing is to keep whatever video you do incorporate relevant. Don’t overdo it. A sales training course might benefit from an amusing example of what not to do, but filling it with cat videos is distracting and unproductive.

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Table of Contents

  1. Demonstrating concepts
  2. Providing a multi-sensory experience
  3. Providing a dynamic experience
  4. Is your course suitable for video?
  5. How should your course content be consumed?
  6. Don’t forget – change it up