4. Video Creation 101

Video content plays a major role within a course. 

The course “Video Creation 101” will provide you with all of the knowledge you need to successfully run video operations on edX and Open edX-related courses.

What follows is a summary of the course content:

Section 1: Video on Learning Sequences

A typical learning sequence has a video lecture, followed by a quick exercise, then another video exercise, and so on.

  • This active-learning method enables students to apply what they’ve learned from the videos before moving into new material.
  • A learning sequence might also start with a video reviewing material covered in the previous learning sequence, or might end with a video summarizing what has just been covered.                                        .
  • Another common case is inserting a discussion topic after each video so that learners can discuss the material with others who have also recently covered it.

Section 2: Plan Your Videos – Before You Shoot

When you plan your learning sequence, focus on creating videos that cover the important ideas, questions, issues, and problems which are at the heart of the course.

Keep related exercises in mind while designing instructional video segments in order to create a more fluid experience.

Before you shoot, you must answer these questions:

  • How are you most comfortable presenting your content?
  • What environment is best for the presentation of the material?
  • Do you have any pre-existing materials that you need to use in order to teach your content?

Section 3: Create Short, Modular Videos

It is recommended to divide long lectures, by finding natural breakpoints, into bite-sized videos, and then interweave them with meaningful exercises and other interactive experiences.

Shorter videos are much more engaging than longer ones, as research by the University of Rochester showed (see it here).

In addition, they give the opportunity to create content in a modular and succinct way.

The ideal video length is between three and seven minutes.

Long videos risk losing the attention of the learner. However, some subjects or topics are hard to cover in a short period of time. The challenge of shortening instruction for online courses can often be a great exercise in organizing lessons and getting directly to educational goals.

Excellent audio quality is a priority. Your video is only as good as your audio.

Section 4: How to Speak on Camera

Video on edX is more similar to one-to-one communication.

  • Be friendly and natural –never emotionless.
  • Create good eye contact and speak in a conversational, one-to-one tone.
  • Speak to the camera as if it were a good friend or a friendly learner.
  • When delivering a great teaching moment, look directly at the camera.

Section 5: edX’s Video Player

The video player possesses two key features to optimize the learner’s experience:

  • Transcript on the right side. It is recommended to add a transcript alongside your video and downloadable versions for learners with slow internet connections or for accessibility purposes.
  • Controls to pause, speed up, slow down, or rewind. By using these functionalities, students can learn at their own pace and review material as many times as they need. Studies have demonstrated that self-pacing improves learning outcomes.

Section 6: Technical Specs on Video 

There are some technical specs that need that you need to be aware of in order to properly manage video content:

  • First establish a YouTube account and create a channel where you will upload your videos. By default, the edX video player uses YouTube, although you can use other hosting services.
  • The Open edX platform supports any video player that is compatible with HTML5, along with its transcript.
  • EdX recommends that users upload videos in the .mp4 format, although the player also supports videos in .webm, .mpeg and .ogg. These are the recommended compression specifications.

It is also suggested that you post copies of your videos on a third-party hosting site such as Amazon S3. When YouTube is not available or your want to allow users to download videos, Amazon S3 works as a backup and starts playing automatically.


Associating transcripts with your videos is very helpful for learning. Users can select a word in the transcript to jump to the point where that word is spoken. Transcripts are needed for deaf or hard-of-hearing students, as well as learners who speak other languages.

To add a video and its transcript, create a unit at the subsection level on Studio and select “Video”.

To create transcript files use the .srt format, which includes timestamps alongside the text. If you need help, you can hire YouTube, 3Play Media or any other company.

More info.

Organize Your Materials

This pre-production stage is critical.

  • Start by gathering and organizing your materials.
  • Devise a production plan, schedule and delivery deadlines.
  • Create a workable outline for your course, which will pair content with videos.
  • Create a strategy to monitor and keep track of progress.

You will have to decide whether you want to produce the videos on your own or work with a team to record and edit.

“If you are working on your own, keep in mind that most of our experienced faculty report that they spend at least 10 hours producing every 1 hour of video content”, Stanford University advises. 


Because course videos need to be concise, a well-thought-out script ensures that content will be covered using fewer takes, and materials will be presented with a clear sequence of ideas and in an efficient amount of time. A production based on instructors lecturing from an outline is never an optimal approach.

A good script will convey audio and video through a two-column document presentation: one column for spoken words, music and audio effects, and another for the visual presentation (video snippets, images, graphs…).


Rehearsing will help instructors sound natural and engaging, present in a meaningful manner and feel comfortable in front of the camera.

It will also optimize recording time and costs, and reduce the total time spent editing mistakes out.

Dress as if you were attending a conference. Avoid wearing shiny or reflective fabrics such as silks as well as metallic jewelry, watches and other accessories that cause reflections on camera.


Section 7: The “About” Video

Courses with an “About” video have higher enrollment rates. 

This video should be no longer than two minutes. It should describe the content of the course, introduce the staff and the organization behind it, state the learning objectives and outcomes, and explain why learners should take the course.  

This is like a movie trailer for the course.

The “About” page and video are two powerful ways to promote your course and drive enrollments.

Section 8: Video Styles

We all agree that videos are one of the most important assets of an online course, but what are the most effective content presentation styles?

As Stanford University says, “ultimately online learning is a new frontier, and instructors are continually thinking of new ways to present their content”.

Visit the Video 101 course at iblcampus.com to explore the most used presentation styles today.