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All Things are Impermanent - Including Instructional Videos

A UNLV instructional technologist makes a case for incorporating instructional videos into the virtual classroom as faculty continue to teach remotely.

OIT News  |  Jul 9, 2020  |  By Nicole Johnson
Image of UNLV campus building

Dr. Joe Horne addresses some common concerns that faculty bring up around making instructional videos. (Rakitha Perera/UNLV OIT)

Editor's Note: 

Article written by Dr. Joe Horne, associate director of instructional technology services for the Office of Information Technology.


Some faculty have nightmares about their recorded lecture appearing on YouTube. In some of those nightmares, faculty say something wrong, or more likely, just less eloquent than they might have wished. Their video goes viral, and suddenly they’re an internet sensation, but not in the way one often hopes. 

It’s healthy and normal to think about these possibilities. No doubt, we’ve all said and done things in the classroom that we later regretted. Having a “permanent” video record of our worst moments circulating through the various channels of the internet makes even the strongest amongst us shudder.

Take it from a colleague of mine. Don’t let negative reactions hinder you.

I remember working with one of the world’s renowned nuclear physicists on a MOOC about his discipline. I was astonished when he casually, and humbly admitted his fear of saying something inaccurate in one of his pre-recorded video lectures. 

He knew that people around the world would be watching these videos, and taking this free course, and he imagined all his esteemed colleagues around the world berating him for some misrepresentation, or some outdated information. 

His fears were never realized though. 

Of the MOOCs we produced that year, his had the highest enrollment, and the most positive comments. It was an instructional hit. There were no intellectual attacks.

So how can faculty conquer similar concerns? 

Long before the pandemic, UNLV students told us that instructor-made videos, whether they are lecture capture, something professionally produced in a studio, or something recorded with a document camera at home - are helpful. These videos can improve student learning outcomes and may be especially impactful at explaining some of the more difficult concepts and content in your discipline.

UNLV (like many higher ed institutions around the U.S.) has Panopto fully integrated with WebCampus to make this easy. And it gets better every year. 

Let’s address some of the most common worries that faculty bring up around making instructional videos.

I hate seeing and hearing myself on video.
Welcome to the club! The vast majority of us don’t like to see and hear ourselves, but instructional videos are not about you. The videos are about helping your students. Students come with expectations, and video is usually one of those expectations.

I am afraid my students will place the video on YouTube or another video platform.
Panopto (depending on how many restrictions you wish to place on your video) makes it quite challenging for students to do that. It would take some effort. And you better sit down for this: your students are probably just not that into you. They’re unlikely to want to spend the time recording their computer screen with their phone or other software just to post it on YouTube. 

I’m afraid my students will skim past the parts of the lecture they find boring.
Yes, they definitely will. In fact, many of them are very open about watching your recorded lectures at 1.5 speed (or higher). There is no evidence to suggest that this hurts their learning outcomes. In fact, tackling the tougher content with thorough tutorial videos can have a positive impact on your students. And remember, once you create it, you can use it again and again (or improve it periodically based on feedback).

I’m afraid that if I record my lectures, students will stop attending class.
There is evidence to suggest this may happen. And if this happens to you, it’s probably time to consider switching up your pedagogy. Offer recorded content and do something active, interesting, and engaging with your precious class time. When someone is sick, they can watch the video. When they want to review material before an exam, the videos give them another opportunity to study. 

I’m afraid of giving away all my knowledge and content through video. I lose control.
This is an interesting argument in these times. Students pay a lot of money to have access to you, your knowledge and your experience. You’re not required to use video, but it’s a medium that works well for our students to whom we are committed to serve and that is why we strongly encourage it.  Instead of thinking of this as giving away your knowledge, think of it as a way to support, help, and teach your students. 

I’m afraid of all the time I'll spend making the videos accessible.
I would have sympathized with you on this one several years ago (having had to caption some of my own videos) but now Panopto makes it awfully easy. And those same captions have been shown to be helpful to all students. Making all your instructional materials accessible is the right thing to do - and it’s also the law. You’re helping everyone succeed when you do this.

I don’t want a permanent video record of my class out there.
I get it. And you can choose to pull down your Panopto videos at any time. Disciplines and the knowledge base that supports them are always evolving. Your instructional video has a shorter shelf life than you probably think. 

Instructional videos won't solve all your instructional challenges. But, if thoughtfully made and skillfully integrated into your course, they can improve learning outcomes and the overall experience for some students - especially in these times. 

It’s a great idea to start small, test the waters, and see what works in your teaching practice. When you are ready to make that leap, we are here to help. 

And remember, all things are impermanent - including that video you are stressing over.