Image of instructional video

Image of instructional videoIncorporating video in your instruction can have its rewards and challenges.  When utilized properly, videos can assist the learning process.  According to Alessi & Trollip (2001), video is becoming popular in interactive multimedia.  You can create videos to demonstrate or model a procedure, interview an expert, provide visual activity, and present plays.  Videos can be appealing, entertaining, and promote higher order thinking skills (p. 72).  Additionally, instructional designers must think about the pedagogical and cognitive implications videos can have on the learners.

As part of my instructional design project this semester, my team, EdTech Solutions, is incorporating video into the web-based unit.  Not only are we utilizing video in this multimedia unit, we are filming the footage ourselves.  Through my experience creating the videos for our client, I want to share some information I have learned along the way that may be helpful to others who are thinking about creating video as part of their instruction.

1. Planning

I have found through my recent experience, planning is one of the most important parts of creating video for instruction.  It is vital to begin with a plan and not go in to a video shoot without an idea of what is going to occur and how it is going to happen.  You will end up spending a lot of time trying to decide what to do and waste valuable time for you and the client.  On the other side of planning, it is equally important to think about the learner.  Mayer and Moreno (2003) state multimedia learning (i.e. videos) can cause a cognitive overload.  This occurs when the learner’s cognitive processing goes beyond the learner’s cognitive capacity.  A few ways to prevent cognitive overload through videos are to avoid narration and on-screen text at the same time, segment pieces of the video, scaffold the instruction, and match the video’s narration with the images.

2. Storyboarding

Storyboarding is a must!  It helps instructional designers determine parts of the video, timing, and organizes (or chunks) pieces of the video.  Storyboarding is the blueprint that assists the instructional designer and informs the subject matter expert on the video details such as video layout, text, graphics, animation sequences and narration (Weingardt, 2004).  In essences, storyboarding allows designers to break down the story into manageable elements.  Storyboarding can be as simple as sketching the segments onto a piece of paper or putting your ideas in digital format.

3. The Process

Once you have a plan and know the details, the next thing to consider is the video process.    There are a lot of details that go into the process such as using a tripod, avoiding wide shots, refraining from panning in or out, and match the narration to the video.  Bell (2005) recommends arranging the set so that it is not cluttered, using proper lighting, and using an external microphone.  Alessi and Trollip (2001) also recommend using video in instruction for important information that would benefit through the use of video as well as keeping the video presentation short (p. 74).

Video is one of many components of multimedia learning and can have an impact on the learner when used effectively.  If you have experience or knowledge on creating video you would like to share, please post in the comment section.


Alessi, S.M. & Trollip, S.R. (2001). Multimedia for learning: Methods and development (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Bell, A. (2005). Creating digital video in your school.  Library Media Connection, 24(2), 54-56.

Mayer, R. & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43-52.

Weingardt, K. (2004). The role of instructional design and technology in the dissemination of empirically supported, manual-based therapies.  Clinical Psychology, 11(3), 313-331.

Guest Blogger

Jennifer Nelson is a doctoral student of Instructional Design and Technology and the coordinator for school partnerships and clinical experiences at the University of Memphis. She has taught high school as well as undergraduate and graduate level courses. Her research interests include technology integration and teacher education.

Guest Blogger PostWhen designing and developing an elearning course you will always be incorporating some combination of text, images, audio, and video. There are several important things you need to keep in mind when working with various types of media.


When designing a course, the wording of the text is not the only thing you should consider. The font you choose can have a huge impact on your elearning course. In one of his blog posts, Tom Kuhlmann points out how the typeface you choose sets the tone or mood for a course. It is important to choose a typeface that matches the tone you want your course to have. For example, you wouldn’t use Comic Sans in a course for business professionals. You would probably be better off using something more traditional like Times New Roman.

While you are deciding on which typefaces are just right for your course, also keep Jennifer Farley’s advice in mind and don’t use more than two fonts per design. She recommends choosing two contrasting fonts such as using an elaborate or decorative font for your headings and contrast them with a sans-serif font for the main text.

Also consider the size of the font in your design. Depending on the age of your learners, a font size of 10 might be too small for them to read comfortably. On the other hand if the font is too large it could distract the learner and make the visual design less appealing.

Finally, if you are creating elearning that will be displayed directly in a browser you should only use web safe fonts. In an article about web safe fonts, Chet Garrison says that if you use an exotic font, only the limited users who have the font installed on their computer will actually see the design as you intended. The thirteen fonts that are considered to be web safe are: Georgia, Palatino Linotype, Times New Roman, Arial, Arial Black, Impact, Lucida Sans Unicode, Tahoma, Trebuchet MSVerdana, Comic Sans MS, Courier New, and Lucida Console.


When using images in your elearning course an important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t use images just for decoration. Although, like text, images can be used to set the tone of a course, they should also contribute to the content and learning.

In another blog post, Tom Kuhlman stresses the importance of using images that belong together. You shouldn’t mix photos and clipart or even different styles of photos and clipart within the same course. The images in your course should have a consistent look and feel.

You also need to consider the direction an image flows when you are deciding where to place an image in your course. You can use images to shift a learner’s focus as long as you place the image in the correct place. For example if you have an image of person pointing next to a body of text, make sure that the image is pointing towards the body of text. Chet Garrison has written a great blog post that goes into more details about this concept.


Just like images, don’t use audio in your course just because you can. You should only use audio if it helps with learning. Tom Kuhlmann talks about how background audio should only be used if it “contributes to an immersive experience” or “creates emotional cues”. Be careful not to use audio that is distracting to the learner.

Another time audio is often used in elearning is for narration. Al Lemieux offers several tips for recording good narration. The tip that I found to be the best, and that most people overlook, is the importance of using a high quality microphone. Using a good external mic instead of the one built into your computer can make your audio sound much more professional.


Video can be a great way to add content to your elearning course, but it can also be really bad if it is not done correctly. One major problem is having a video clip that is too long. Learners can quickly become bored if all they are doing is watching a video. In an article for Learning Solutions Magazine, Jeremy Vest says that the optimal length for a video segment is two to seven minutes long.

In the same article, Vest says another common mistake, especially with screencasts, is not showing the instructor in the video. The learner can quickly become disengaged if they never see anyone on the screen. So, try to add in some shots of the instructor talking when it is appropriate.

I hope these tips will help you as you are designing your own elearning courses. Please feel free to share some of your on tips in the comments.

Guest blogger: Joey Weaver teaches Computer Technology to high school students at Kansas Career & Technology Center in Memphis, TN. He is currently working on a Master’s degree in Instructional Design & Technology at the University of Memphis.

Images courtesy of Daehyun Park, D’Arcy Norman, & Valeriana Solaris at Flikr Creative Commons.

I am a visual learner. I would rather look at a chart than read a text. I would rather watch a video than read about its content. However, this is my own learning preference and it is not a general rule for learning. It is nice to entertain the idea of tailoring instruction to all the different styles of learners but, in reality, this is not practical.  What is practical is designing instruction that uses a mix of text, audio, video and images, also called multimedia. This has been proven to accommodate the different learning styles of the learners and help them learn better.

If I were to choose three things to consider when developing multimedia instruction they will be as follows:

1.Cognitive load

Sweller has written extensively about learning and cognitive load.  He argues that our brains can process a limited amount of information at one particular time. Not only that, when images and audio are mixed with text, special consideration has to be given on how the combination is done.  Repeating the same information through more than one medium makes it redundant.  An example would be presenting the text and the audio version of the same text simultaneously. Here, the learner is asked to attend to two sources of information that are repetitive and not complimentary to one another.  The result would be an unnecessary load imposed on the brain which might affect the learning g process. On the other hand, presenting the information through more than one medium might lead to split-attention.  An example would be a text and a diagram, each of which cannot be understood in isolation, nevertheless, they are presented in isolation from one another.  In this case, the learner is required to look at two sources of information in order to understand.  This might exceed the capability of the brain to process the information well in that one instance and might affect the learning process. (Sweller, 2007).  On his Rapid eLearning Blog, Tom Kuhlman’s presents a well thought of demo on how the effectiveness of instruction can be manipulated by how the different media are combined.


It is easy for novice instructional designers to get carried away with their creativity, and the temptations of technology do not make it easier. However, one ought to remember why the media is being used. Check Ducey ‘s slide show on the different functions of graphics in instruction. Examples of the functions that Ducey lists are decorative, organizational, reducing cognitive load, increasing motivation, etc.  All of these functions become important when they are conducive to learning.  However, if they increase the “noise” and cause unnecessary cognitive load then it is better not to incorporate them.


Last but not least is the quality of the medium used, be it text, images, audio or video. For example, an audio that fulfills the first two conditions discussed above might not be effective if the quality of recording is bad. In his blog, Narration in eLearning, Schone describes some of the issues faced in producing narration.    The same applies to a poorly produced video or image or a poorly structured text.  Multimedia of low quality is a reflection of the effort invested in the development of the instructional material.  The learner‘s perception of the effort invested in the development might affect his perception of the credibility of the material. In turn, this might affect the learning process.   Also, low quality will most likely cause the brain to exert more effort to understand the instructional message.  Understandably, it is not always easy to produce multimedia of good quality. Here, one might rethink how best to invest in the resources, accept simplicity, or in worst case scenarios, not use multimedia if quality cannot be improved.

These are my top three rules for using text, images, audio, or video in learning. What are yours?  Input your suggestions and rules in the comments below.

Guest Blogger: Suha Tamim is a doctoral student in Instructional Design and Technology. She also holds a Masters degree in Public Health, Concentration Health Behavior and Health Education. She is interested in learning design, constructivism, and learning styles. Few years prior to becoming a doctoral student, Suha worked as an instructor at the university level, teaching students how to design health education materials and how to use them in the field.  She was also involved in training school teachers and health workers on the design of health education materials.

Sweller, J. (2007). Human cognition architecture.  In J.M. Spector, D. Merrill, J.v. Merrienboer, & M.P. Driscoll (Eds).  Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 369-381).  Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.

Image courtesy of J Fry at

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