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Video Clips and Perfectionism

Part of the Designing Online Learning Environments class involves our building a pilot project. Going into this endeavor I knew two things I wanted to change and one thing I wanted to keep. Primarily, I wanted to keep the light, engaging nature of how I present content to my students. Specifically, I am using the personalization principle because it “resembles human-to-human contact.” (Clark & Mayer, p. 182) In my videos, this is position I take. In my written pieces, I take the second-person position using pronouns like you and we to accomplish the same thing.

One thing I needed to change in the pilot is the application of the segmentation principle in order to “help the learner manage the complexity by breaking the lesson into manageable segments.” (Clark & Mayer, p. 209) My original video was long and a bit all over the place - but with good intentions. I wanted to immerse the learner in the complex environment they would be using for the duration of the semester. Seems all I did at times was facilitate their drowning.

But this piece is about video clips which brings me to the second thing I wanted to change about my approach to developing content. And that is perfectionism. I know it seems silly, but we all want to provide content that wows our learners - and we want to get it right the first time. Your tools already allow for the inevitability that you will make mistakes. Since I tend to do most or all of my work with Quicktime on a MacBook Air with an attached Thunderbolt display, my setup allows for good HD quality video content. This compounded my silly idea that I had to get it right on the first take. But it is simply not necessary.

This is a hard habit to break. I recently began recording the clips as I always do and it was frustrating. Then I remembered that when Hollywood movies are made they have many takes and then they fix the defects and continuity during editing. So, I did the same thing. I recommend you follow these very simple steps during the recording process:

1) Record only one concept or lesson component at a time.
2) Have a set of talking points, but not a script. Remember the idea is to keep this informal for engagement purposes, but you will need something to keep you on point if you tend to run tangentially as I do.
3) Give yourself a lead-in. In other words, literally count out loud “3, 2, 1,” then begin.
4) If you mess up, stop talking, give yourself another lead-in and continue.

Now your thinking, but wait, you didn’t tell me to note how many times I messed up! Well, you are going to listen to it again and confirm you covered everything you wanted. During the review process, note the time indexes you want to remove from the final product.

Here are my recommendations for editing:

1) Make a backup copy of the original!
2) Once you’ve recorded the time indexes to be removed, review them once more to be sure you have them all.
3) Cut the sections you to not want in the final copy including the lead-ins.
4) Save and publish your finished production!

By the way, these are the same steps a producer for a movie, podcast or radio show has to follow. I hope this has helped to make things a little easier for your own production.

Clark, Ruth C.; Mayer, Richard E. (2011-07-13). e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning (Essential Knowledge Resource) (p. 52,59). Wiley. Kindle Edition.


  • C Mocibob


    You made some really good points related to video. I am believing more and more lately that videos and even some eLearning courses don't have to be perfect - just perfect enough. What used to be a development cycle of 6+ weeks to develop a course is now shortened significantly. I think about buzz words such as rapid learning and just in time training. If it take months to develop a training tool, is it really addressing a current/immediate business need? In my company, Training and HR are plugged in to the business initiatives. In order to support the business, we have to be able to react quickly to address an often immediate training need. Sometimes a video containing the key points and relevant information addresses the need and is also timely. This is sometimes a challenge for me - I like things to be perfect; however, I do see the benefit of addressing the need as quickly as possible.

    In a class last semester, I recorded a training video. I created my script and tried to read through it. It was too long and way too robotic. Like your recommendations state, breaking the segments into smaller recordings is MUCH more effective and manageable. Being able to record them in smaller segments allowed me to stay on point and keep the flow moving. Also, using talking points rather than a word-for-word script allows for better engagement and a much less robotic tone overall.

    One of best practice I try to follow pertains to length. I prefer shorter videos that are topic specific - I just feel like this helps to better keep the attention of the learner.

    Great blog entry and great topic!


  • Chloe DeShong


    There are some really great tips here. I once made a video library of how to use a speech analytic tool, my videos started out longer and got shorter as I realized what worked for people.. and also figured out what the heck I was doing.

    I did a lot of the same tips you offer, especially the one where if you make a mistake.. you just pause and then continue. Only I would sigh heavily at myself and then continue. It can be frustrating!

    What software did you use for editing? I always had the best time with audacity. It's easy to use and editing out my sighs and mistakes could be done very precisely.

    Great job,