7 Creating educational videos

By the end of this chapter, you will be ready to create your own educational videos.

In this chapter

General guidelines

There are great explanations for creating instructional videos (e.g., ColumbiaEdutopiaTechSmith including 7 minute tutorial video). We also provide a series of examples in the section: Specific examples of video set-ups. In short, videos should ideally:

  • Keep it brief (2 – 15 minutes, like TED talks). Ideally, videos will be centred on a single topic or sub-topic. Long video recordings (i.e., > 12-15 min) are  difficult for many reasons, as they make it hard to: keep students engaged for that amount of time, find information later, update or clarify content, or point students to specific sections of relevance. If there’s a mistake in an 80 minute video, it’s a lot harder to fix than a mistake in a 3-minute video.
  • Identify a key message, such as by learning outcome, topic, or sub-topic in the course.
  • Have accompanying visuals that can be annotated, such as slides. Share these with students so that they can annotate, too (e.g., post the slides on Brightspace, use an editable format, like Powerpoint). More on creating videos and  from Vanderbilt University.
  • Be engaging: use a conversational tone; making a few mistakes is okay!
  • Let students see you in video recordings to increase engagement and impact.
  • Consult TLSS remote learning accessibility guidelines while planning and creating videos


Here are some set-ups you can use. However, there are many options out there, so you can always look into others. There are additional explanations and a few specific example videos of how each choice would turn out in the section: Specific examples of video set-ups.

  • Hardware – these are optional, aside from a computer to do the recording
    • Webcam: your laptop/desktop’s built-in camera or a separate webcam, such as Logitech’s 960 or C615
    • Tablet for digital handwriting: an iPad with Apple pencil or the Wacom pen tablet
    • Microphone: the SnowballBlue YetiMXL Tempo, or MXL conferencing; the built-in microphone on most computers is noticeably lower quality
    • Headset: the Logitech wireless and wired versions are excellent value; a head-set is helpful if you plan to do lots of editing or doing more advanced recording
  • Software
    • uOttawa recommends and offers technical support on: Powerpoint slides recorded using Echo 360 (in a classroom or using personal capture) or using voice-over Powerpoint from a laptop/desktop. Other options include:
    • YouTube Studio (simple editing), iMovie (Mac only), TinyTake (good for short videos), Camtasia or Adobe Premiere (records screen, video, and audio; simple to advanced editing, but more expensive), or even Zoom (recording only). As usual, there are many other options if these don’t work for you.
    • Notability captures annotations on blank pages or a slide – can be run on a tablet or desktop
    • Powerpoint or Keynote to make and share slides

To make the recording:

  • Follow key principles, from Edutopia (LINK) and TechSmith (LINK)
  • Follow Cognitive load theory guidelines, from Vanderbilt University (LINK)
  • See the technology involved, from Shopify (LINK)
  • It’s best to build accessibility principles into your process from the start:
    • Course content needs to follow the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. For example, export Word and PPT documents to PDF in the format “Best for electronic printing and accessibility)”, add alt tags to images with descriptions or label as “decorative image”, and add captions to videos (YouTube will caption videos roughly).
    • This article provides simple guidelines for designing an inclusive user experience.

To share the recording with students

Upload the video to YouTube Studio (publicly or unlisted) then link to the YouTube video in Brightspace. Going through the YouTube step (i) allows for automatic captions (although expect greater error rates in technical material), (ii) means students can make themselves a playlist to watch offline, and (iii) Youtube automatically optimizes videos for low bandwidth connections.

Alternatively, you can post the video directly in Brightspace.

To go deeper

The eBook for professors have some specific examples of videos in the Appendix.

Up next

The next chapter addresses marking students’ work.

Please feel free to contact us at any time with questions, suggestions, and concerns. In particular, we check this form weekly and will continue to update this guide as the situation evolves.


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Remote teaching: a guide for teaching assistants Copyright © by Meredith Allen; Alisha Szozda; Jeremy Kerr; and Alison Flynn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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