5 tips for making educational videos that go viral

Videos are quickly become a staple of both on-campus and online courses—and the most popular video lectures can rack up millions of views.

What's the secret to creating instructional videos that are both engaging and informative? A teaching and learning team based at New York University's Stern School of Business recently shared their advice for creating more engaging videos. Here are five of their tips, as rounded up by Dian Schaffhauser in an article for Campus Technology.

1: Ditch the simple questions

In converting a lecture to video, educational technologist Amanda Justice suggests incorporating framing questions that don't have clear, obvious answers. Provocative questions can bring more structure to a video and subvert student expectations, which helps them feel like more active participants in learning.

2: Create recognizable icons for complex ideas

Animations are common in instructional videos because they're customizable and relatively easy to make. According to Justice and her team, the best animations illustrate complex ideas with recognizable icons that re-appear throughout the video. In this way, the icons become visual memory cues for students, she says.

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3: Create feedback loops

Instructors often include quizzes in their videos, but Justice and her team recommend a couple ways to take quizzes to the next level. First, write questions that "prompt synthesis," rather than merely asking students to recall information. And second, turn quizzes into a feedback loop by using student answers to make adjustments to the course. For example, instructors could identify commonly missed questions and review those concepts during the next class period.

4: Bring in new perspectives

Invite outside experts to share how they've approached similar problems, as well as stories of their successes and failures in the field. For example, in one online course, Justice and her team incorporated one- to two-minute "mini-lessons" from external experts.

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5: Invite problem-solving

By adding open-ended prompts to videos, instructors can encourage students to take their learning a step further and apply their knowledge to find solutions to new challenges. Prompting students at the beginning of a video can also set their expectations, turning the video into a scavenger hunt for the answer to the opening question (Schaffhauser, Campus Technology, 2/28).


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