Using Video to Improve Learner Interactions

Using Video to Improve Learner Interactions

Quality Matters, the peer review process Volunteer State employs to ensure high quality online courses, identifies three types of learner interactions which promote active learning:

  • learner–instructor interaction,
  • learner–content interaction, and
  • learner–learner interaction.

The use of video in your online courses can improve and increase all three of these critical learner interactions.

Here are some ideas to use video to increase learner interactions in your online courses.

Learner—Instructor Interaction

Professor Introductory Video

Produce a semi-permanent video to introduce yourself in the Instructor Information section of your courses. If you keep this video general, you can utilize it every one of your online courses. You can discuss your academic background, research interests and why you enjoy teaching at Vol State. If you wish, you can add some personal details. This video can be used over several semesters, so you might want to consider having our videographers in Media Services produce this video.

Assignment Directions Video

Written instructions and rubrics are great for providing directions to students for assignments, but have you ever considered producing a video to explain assignment directions? Since many learners pick up on visual cues like facial expressions and body language as well as speech more effectively than they do interpreting text, video directions can really benefit a large segment of your online students. If you’re trying a new assignment, you can produce a “rough and ready” video at your computer using MyMedia, which is embedded in all your online courses under “Course Tools”. If you have an assignment you use repeatedly, Media Services can help make a great permanent video.

Feedback Video

Microsoft Word comments, a number in a grade book, Dropbox comments on a quiz—these are all great feedback tools. Did you know you can provide feedback to your online students using video? While a video is not a two-way conversation, it more closely mimics a live face-to-face conversation than the written word. Again, you can make quick videos using MyMedia. After you get used to using MyMedia, you may be able to save time providing video feedback instead of or in supplement to your written feedback.

BTW, please see our blog, My Media has Arrived!, for help on using this great tool.

Learner—Content Interaction

Field Video

Do you have a class where you can get out in the field to show students real-world examples of their academic subjects? If you’re teaching an environmental science or ecology class, you can go to a riffle of a nearby stream to show how bubbling waters oxygenate a stream. If you’re teaching a pop culture or pop music class, you can show a video of some of the famous instruments in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Of course, your traditional classroom can be considered a kind of field experience for an online student. Why not video some of your classroom demonstrations or discussions and edit them down for your online students? Once again, Media Services can help you produce these videos.

Here’s a nice video by Dr. Carol Bucy from her HIST 2030 Tennessee History online class. The audio on this PowerPoint video isn’t perfect, but that’s quite acceptable. Students get valuable information and the professor’s insights in alternative, accessible format. Perfection isn’t the goal; quality instruction is the goal.

Assignment Video (PowerPoint)

There are so many ways to create video these days. You can use your phone. You can use your web cam. You can use your computer or tablet. In fact, you can create video by not creating “video” at all! For example, why not have students create a PowerPoint presentation with audio and automated transitions between slides for an assignment? This gives students the opportunity to review, organize and analyze course materials and present their work in a format which they may need to use on the job someday. If you need help guiding your students through such an assignment, we’re here in Distributed Education to help you.

Did you know students can also use MyMedia? MyMedia includes a desktop recorder for doing video and screen recordings. MyMedia is actually easier to use than PowerPoint, and it is already imbedded in every Vol State course!

Video Documentaries

From 30 second shorts to full blown documentaries, there is an abundance of high quality video available to the educator from a myriad of online sources. I’ll confess a predilection for using videos produced by the Public Broadcasting Service in my online courses, including shows from Frontline, Nova and American Experience. Of course, a conversation with one of our Vol State librarians may give you great ideas for locating new videos to incorporate into your online classes.

Learner–Learner Interaction

Team Assignment Video (PowerPoint)

The automated, narrated PowerPoint presentation described earlier is a great team project. Yes, students may groan about having a team project, but the benefits of such projects far outweigh the groans. Musicians collaborate online. Writers collaborate online. Business professionals collaborate online. Educators collaborate online. Having students produce a PowerPoint “video” online is not only a great assignment, but teaches students how to collaborate online for their professional lives.

Student Introductory Video

You know that favorite first assignment for almost every online class offered in North America? You know, the “Introduce Yourself” discussion board? Why not have students create a short introductory video of themselves for their introduction? Shy students can provide narration without showing themselves, if necessary. This is certainly a novel way to start building active discussions and your class learning community.

Zoom Meetings

The video examples described above are asynchronous; however, if you use tools already embedded in your online classes like Wiggio and Zoom Meetings, there’s no reason you can’t create synchronous learning experiences using online video technology. You can run online review sessions during your office hours using your webcam, a headset with a mic for good sound and Zoom Meetings. You can record these sessions for students who have scheduling conflicts and can’t make your office hours.

Here’s a great resource to learn about Zoom @ Vol State.

There are many more ways to incorporate video into your online classes to increase learner interactions. Distributed Education, our great librarians, and the staff of Media Services are all here to help, and they’re just a click away:


Bryan Saums portrait.Bryan Saums joined the Distributed Education team as an Instructional Design Specialist in February 2018. He holds two masters and certifications in geographic information systems (GIS) and instructional design. He created and taught his first online course in 2002, a sociology course for real estate professionals. He has designed and taught a diverse array of online and hybrid courses, including cultural anthropology, archaeology, environmental science, ecology, cartography and geographic research methods. While he has never been arrested for disturbing the peace, he plays banjo so the possibility is always open.