Developing Video Content for Students

Resources that guide the design and development of video content to students

This document was created to provide guidance in the development phase of blended course creation around the delivery of content using audio and video formats. Research guides the recommendations found here, but the findings are meant only as guidelines — further consultation with an instructional technology consultant is recommended as a variety of situational factors may lead you to different decisions.  It is, therefore, meant as a starting point on video content development.  The document is broken into five sections: definitions, benefits of video, length of video content, student outcomes, format recommendations, and technology recommendations.



A review of the literature shows studies that looked at several video delivery formats. The research articles used various terms to describe these different formats. To simplify the results, the document has standardized terminology around the following types of video delivery formats to:

  • Audio Podcast - audio-only presentation without slides or video
  • Narrated Presentation - slides with audio narration
  • Lecture Capture - video captured from a live classroom
  • Instructor-Present Presentation - slides with video of instructor on the screen

video formats


  • Cognitive load - the amount of working memory used to learn
  • Judgment of learning - the amount of learning students perceived they have learned
  • Transfer of learning - the application of skills, knowledge, and/or attitudes that were learned in one situation to another learning situation
  • Recall - the ability to access information covered at a later time

Benefits of Video

Blended learning videos benefit students and teachers in several ways:

  1. They give students more time to process information and can have them coming to class prepared to discuss and put their learning into practice;
  2. Teachers can better maximize class time for higher-order, student-centered, collaborative learning activities;
  3. Videos help teachers standardize content for core and required classes;
  4. Students can view and review videos at their own pace and during times convenient to them;
  5. Blended approaches provide teachers an appropriate way to incorporate audio and visuals into the learning process; and
  6. These approaches speak the language of a digital generation (Sweat & Alford, 2019).

Length of Video Content

Several articles have studied the ideal length of a video. The ideal length of engagement drew from several factors including cognitive load, attention span, learning outcomes, and student preferences. The research generally confirms the recommendation based on the Danforth, Schumacher, & Ma article that found students' preference is for video content limited to 4-6 minutes (Danforth, Schumacher, & Ma, 2012). Guo, Kim, and Rubin confirmed that video length is the most significant indicator of student engagement, with the highest level of engagement being found between 1-3 minutes, the median engagement time around 6 minutes, with engagement dropping off after 6 minutes. Studying engagement levels with instructor-present video, they found that engagement dropped off after 6-9 minutes, compared to 3-6 minutes with narrated presentations (Guo, Kim, and Rubin, 2014). Pi and Hong found that students who viewed video content with a length between 4-6 minutes had the best learning scores following their watching the video. They also confirmed that mental fatigue begins at 10 minutes and seriously deteriorates after 22 minutes (Pi & Hong, 2016). Guo, Kim, and Rubin also found that students watching an instructor-present video in which the instructor was seated at a desk with a closer focus on their face engaged twice as long (6-12 minutes) than they did when they watched a lecture capture video (3-6 minutes). Both formats found engagement levels deteriorating after 12 minutes (Guo, Kim, & Rubin 2014).

Student Outcomes

The research identified several student factors for video content around outcomes such as general interest, satisfaction, enjoyment, learning, length of watching, behaviors after watching, cognitive load, students' judgment of learning, and feelings toward seeing the instructor. Wilson et al. studied three video deliver formats (audio podcast, narrated presentation, and instructor-present presentations). Of these three formats, the study found that students reported instructor-present presentation as the format from which they learned the best, enjoyed the most, and preferred the most. It is important to note, however, that students' perception of their level of learning was not confirmed by comprehension tests in this study which found no difference in comprehension among any of the three formats. Looking at instructor-present video further, the study found that students reported this format had the least effort in attention, the greatest enjoyment, facilitated the greatest amount of learning, the greatest likelihood of watching the entire video, the highest judgment of learning, and interestingly, the lowest likelihood of dropping a course that used this format regularly (Wilson et al., 2018). Wang, Antonenko, and Dawson expanded on this research by making distinctions between the formats used and the degree of the topic's difficulty. The study focused on videos without instructor presence [narrated presentations] and instructor-present videos. The study found that students expressed greater satisfaction and situational interest with instructor-present videos regardless of the level of difficulty of the topic presented. It also found that the instructor-present video facilitated greater judgment of learning for difficult topics than narrated presentations. Easy topics saw no difference in the judgment of learning for either format. Additionally, instructor-present videos reduced the cognitive load of difficult topics, suggesting that students benefited from the visual cues provided by seeing the instructor. Describing their subjective feelings of instructor-present videos (with both easy and difficult topics) they used terms like helpful, entertaining, useful, and engaging. It is important to note, however, that with regard to the transfer of learning and retention, the study found no difference between narrated presentation and instructor-present videos (Wang, Antonenko, & Dawson,2020). The research shows different conclusions on this point, however. Pi and Hong found that instructor-present videos did show greater recall and transfer compared to narrated presentations (Pi and Hong, 2016). Kizilcec, Papadopoulus, and Sritanyaratna, however, found no significant difference in learning outcomes between narrated presentations and instructor-present videos (Kizilcec, Papadopoulus, and Sritanyaratna, 2014). The research, therefore, doesn't provide any conclusive guidance on formats as it relates to learning outcomes.

Format Recommendations

Based on the research, instructor-present videos appear to support greater student outcomes such as interest, motivation, satisfaction, and judgment of learning than do narrated presentations. Research provides clear guidance on the length of videos. Keeping video to between 6-9 minutes should ensure the greatest level of student engagement and reduction of cognitive load. The one caveat for the instructor-present video recommendation would be around content that is quickly evolving or changing. In these cases, the production and maintenance of narrated presentations would be much easier than instructor-present videos. Starting with a narrated presentation and migrating to an instructor-presented video once content has stabilized might be best in these situations.

Technology Recommendations

Instructor-Present Video

With regard to the creation of instructor-present videos, the recommended tool is Kaltura Capture. This tool allows for the recording of a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation and a video of an instructor talking. Students watching the video have the ability to control the presentation of the instructor video (hide it completely, side-by-side, or picture in picture). Kaltura Capture is a stand-alone software you download and install on your computer. Best practices would recommend the purchase of a secondary microphone to enhance the quality of the audio — something like the Snowball ICE. Kaltura Machine Captioning is also available to make recorded content accessible. Kaltura Interactive Quiz Video can be used to insert questions into presentations. This approach might help increase recall and transfer of learning. Please note that those who want or need to edit your video, you will need to use other tools. An instruction technology consultant can help you identify other options.  *NOTE: During Remote Instruction, demand on the Kaltura service is expected to be high. Consider the alternate solution of using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (found within Canvas) to record your instructor-present video). Review the following resource for help recording your Blackboard Ultra session.

Narrated Presentation

With regard to the creation of narrated presentations, the recommended tools are Microsoft PowerPoint for creating a narrated presentation to deliver content to students; Kaltura for storing the content, and Canvas for delivering content to students. Kaltura Machine Captioning is also available to make recorded content accessible. Kaltura Interactive Quiz Video can be used to insert questions into presentations. This approach might help increase recall and transfer of learning. Guides can be found for creating narrated presentations for Mac and Windows users.


  • VIEW — Danforth, S., Cullen, R., and  Ma Y.J. "Evaluating Format Preferences and Effectiveness of Video Podcasts Related to Nutrition Education and Recipe Demonstrations." Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics, (2012). 112, A19.
  • VIEW — Guo, Philip, Juho Kim, and Rob Rubin. "How Video Production Affects Student Engagement: An Empirical Study of MOOC Videos." In Proceedings of the First ACM Conference on Learning@Scale Conference. (2014). pp. 41-50.
  • VIEW — Kizilcec, René. Kathryn Papadopoulus and Lalida Sritanyaratana. "Showing Face in Video Instruction: Effects on Information Retention, Visual Attention, and Affect." Proceedings of The SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. (2014). pp. 2095-2102.
  • VIEW — Pi, Zhongling, and Jianzhong Hong. "Learning Process and Learning Outcomes of Video Podcasts Including the Instructor and PPT Slides: A Chinese Case." Innovations in Education and Teaching International. (2016) 53(2). pp. 135-144.
  • VIEW — Sweat, Anthony, and Kenneth Alford. "Getting Started with Blended Learning Videos." Faculty Focus. June 2019.
  • VIEW — Wang, Jiahui, Pavlo Antonenko, and Kara Dawson. "Does Visual Attention to the Instructor in Online Video Affect Learning and Learning Perceptions? An Eye-Tracking Analysis." Computers and Education (2020) 146. 103779).
  • VIEW — Wilson, Kristen, et al. "Instructor Presence Effect: Liking Does Not Always Lead to Learning." Computers and Education. (2018) (122). pp.205-220.

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