The reason for this is simple: Videos are the most engaging type of content. Employees are 75% more likely to watch a video than to read documents, emails or web articles.
All this to say your eLearning or employee training program should include video content. And if you’re not sure where to start, let us ease your mind: You don’t need to be an experienced video producer or own expensive recording equipment to create engaging course videos.
What you do need is a well-structured outline, a video script, a laptop or tablet with a camera and microphone, and a learning management system (LMS) or other eLearning tool that gives you a platform to publish your course videos on. We’ll cover each of these things in more depth below.
Creating an outline is the most important step in the process. Your course outline works like a roadmap, telling you where you’re headed and what stops you’ll make along the way. Outlines also help you understand how your main topic can be broken down into subtopics, which will determine what video content you should present.
If you’ve never created a course outline, a good place to start is with a course outline template. There are many free versions available a quick internet search away, and we also created one you can download right here.
Here are three questions that will help you brainstorm your outline.
When it comes to creating a course outline, the best place to start is at the end of your course. What is it you want your learners to understand? And what milestones do they need to reach on their way there? Those milestones are the modules that make up your course outline.
Knowing your audience is essential. We don’t just mean knowing their names (although that is something you should know). What we’re talking about is having a good idea of how your audience relates to the subject matter of your course.
Once you know what you want to teach and to whom, the next thing you need to figure out is how you’re going to share the information with your audience. Most eLearning courses incorporate a mix of content types. Some of the most common ones are quizzes/assessments, PDFs, eBooks, games, infographics, charts, case studies, and of course, videos.
Video content provides a multisensory experience. This makes videos the perfect vehicle for concepts that are best explained through a combination of visual and auditory information.
By this point in the process, your course outline should be complete and you should know which modules within your course you’re going to create videos for.
Before you start recording, you’ll need a script. If you’re a highly experienced instructor, you might be able to get away with improvising, but most of us are better off with a script. Writing a script decreases the amount of editing you’ll have to do later and ensures you don’t leave out any critical information.
Welcome to script writing 101! Here’s our recommended approach for script writing:
eLearning course videos typically fall into two categories: talking heads or presentations. Talking head videos consist of one person addressing the camera directly in a close-up shot, while presentation-style videos usually include recorded audio with slides or other visual aids.
Whether you choose to create a talking head or a presentation video is up to you, but keep in mind that each style lends itself to delivering certain types of information. For instance, a talking head may be sufficient for giving an overview of a topic or demonstrating a sales pitch, while a presentation may be better suited for explaining how to calculate a business’s earnings before interest and tax (EBIT). It’s likely that you will want to incorporate both video types at different points in your course.
Recording a talking head is relatively simple. Don’t worry about investing in expensive equipment—in most cases, your laptop webcam and microphone will work fine. Further, most operating systems come with an application that will allow you to record and save a video from your computer’s webcam (such as Apple’s Photo Booth).
If this is not the case for you, another option is to use video conferencing software, like Zoom. If you choose this method, simply launch a meeting (ideally with no other guests) and record the meeting.
Before jumping in, record a test shot in the space you plan on recording your video in. Make sure there’s no echo and that you’re filming in a well-lit room.
For presentation style videos, recording works a little differently. The first thing you need to do for this style of video is prepare the slides you want to display in your recording. You can do this in PowerPoint, Google Slides, or whatever presentation software you prefer. Once your slides are ready, there are a few methods you can use to transform them into a video.
The easiest option is to use eLearning authoring software. Many of these tools allow you to upload your slides and record audio on top of them.
If you don’t have an eLearning tool with this feature, your next best option is to use a screen recording tool. QuickTime is available for free on most computers and can be used for this purpose, but there are more advanced options in our software directory.
While every screen recording tool is different, many of them allow you to record audio and your computer screen at the same time. To do this, choose a microphone within the tool to receive audio from. We recommend testing the audio before you begin recording your final version. If you get audio feedback, lower the volume within your screen recording tool or use headphones with a microphone.
To reiterate our earlier advice: Writing and rehearsing your script (and testing the audio and lighting of your space) will help you avoid heavy edits. If your video is not coming together as you hoped, we recommend recording a second or third version rather than trying to edit it to perfection.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of video editing, let’s talk tools. To edit a video, you have a few options. As mentioned in the section above, some course authoring software allows you to create a presentation style video with your own audio on top. These tools also have their own editing capabilities built in.
If you’re not using a course authoring tool, try video editing software. There are several free options in our software directory. It’s also worth mentioning that some computers come with their own video editing applications (such as Apple’s iMovie).
Next, we’ll walk you through the steps of a basic video editing strategy. We’ll keep it generic here because of the differences from tool to tool, but we recommend taking the time to watch a tutorial on the video editing software of your choice (YouTube is a good resource for this) to orient yourself before getting started.
Watch your footage. If you filmed multiple takes, watch them all. Note which takes are the best and which are unusable.
Import your favorite takes. Upload and arrange them into the video editing tool in the sequence you’d like them to occur (this is called an assembly edit).
Cut your takes. Remove the beginning and end of the takes, as well as any “ums,” awkward pauses, or boring parts.
Add jump cuts or transitions. Your editing tool should have different kinds of transition options available—how fancy you get with this is up to you!
Include title slides and text callouts. If your tool allows you to add video layers, title slides and text callouts are best positioned on a separate layer from your footage.
Incorporate music or sound effects (optional). If you’d like to incorporate music or sound effects into your videos, now’s the time to add them. You can find free music in the YouTube audio library.
Mix the sound. The basic idea behind mixing your audio is to make sure that your clips are at the same volume level. Listen to your clips in sequence and make adjustments using the mixer feature within your editing tool to adjust the volume of each clip.
Watch your video over and over. Does the audio sound even? Are the transitions natural? Are your text callouts positioned correctly? Watch your video until you’re satisfied with your editing job, then take a break and come back and watch it one more time with a fresh set of eyes.
Export your video. Once you’re done editing, it’s time to export your video. The export settings you use depend on where you plan on publishing your video. YouTube’s standards are a pretty safe bet; they prefer videos in an MP4 format and accept videos with a frame rate between 24 and 60 fps.
You’ve made it to the finish line! You’ve outlined, scripted, recorded, and edited your video. Now it’s time to put it out into the world.
Uploading course videos is pretty straightforward, but like most steps in this process, you’ll need to make a few decisions before you can call it a day. The first decision you need to make is where you are going to host your video.
If you have a learning management system (LMS) or other eLearning tool, you should be able to upload your video within the system. Every tool is different, but most will have a course management function that supports content uploads and even lets you assign new content to the appropriate course.
If you’re not using eLearning software, your next best option is to upload your video to YouTube. To upload a video to YouTube, login to your account and click the “create a video” button towards the top of the page.
Before you select your file for upload, you’ll need to choose what level of visibility you want for the video—it can be public (anyone will be able to see it), unlisted (still publicly available, but only to people with a direct link), private (only you can view it), or scheduled (it will go live at a later date). Once you’ve chosen the visibility you want, select your file and start uploading. After that, just name your video, write a description, and click “publish.” And with that, you’re done!
Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
Creating and managing eLearning courses is a lot easier with the right tools in place. Between learning management systems, eLearning course authoring tools, and virtual classroom software, there are a lot of options out there to choose from.
Visit our LMS buyers guide for a head start on your search. There you’ll find information on the different types of LMS, common features of these tools, integrations to keep in mind, and current trends in the eLearning industry. You can also compare top-rated tools, read reviews from real users, and filter our software directory for options that best fit your unique needs.
The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.