Videos often involve more than just a talking head. Dynamic speakers break down important concepts to make it easy for students to understand


Video offers a rich, audio-visual means to grab students’ attention and generate discussion, but it can be difficult to know what kind of content to include and when to include it. Content should be relevant, engaging, and provide insights students wouldn’t be exposed to through traditional instruction, like that from a textbook.

I’ve compiled three tips to help professors sort through the clutter, find what they need, and boost their lessons with help from educational video resources.

1. Make it relevant.

Avoid using videos just for the sake of using videos. If students can’t understand why faculty are showing them a particular clip, don’t expect them to be engaged. Like any tool, there is a time and place to use it. Students respond to what they know. Using pop-culture, for example, is an effective way to illustrate key concepts and connect instruction to students’ lives and interests.

Students are well connected. Many receive their news of what’s happening in the world through 140-character snippets. But that rarely gives them the whole picture. World politics and the economy are often topics touched upon in every nightly news program. Using clips from these programs can give students more than just the headline and demonstrate how current events relate to what might seem like dated academic concepts.

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2. Mix it up.

Student attention spans get shorter every year. Professors have to compete with cell phones, tablets, and social media to keep students focused on learning. Short video clips have the advantage of breaking up long lectures, giving students something new to focus on during long class periods. Keep instruction engaging by interspersing lecture and discussion with short snippets that demonstrate a point.

This can also mean mixing up the kinds of videos faculty show students. When it comes to instruction, don’t be limited by using just one type of video clip. Utilizing news, pop-culture, and other videos with different viewpoints on the same topic can spark discussion and help students develop critical thinking skills. It can also offer an opportunity to enhance what’s in the textbook by providing a different perspective.

3. Use vetted resources.

As much fun as using videos can be, it’s important to choose resources that hold educational value. With so much content available, it can often be hard to know where to look. Faculty can spend hours searching the Web for the right video, but is investing that time for a three-minute clip worth it?

There are a number of websites offering curated content broken down by subject that are reliable and beneficial to classroom instruction. Certain sites even offer materials that directly correlate with textbooks and lesson plans offering an added advantage of pointing professors in the right direction for where they can incorporate those resources into instruction.

These websites offer high production value content and feature experts in their fields providing key insights into important topics. Videos often involve more than just a talking head. Dynamic speakers break down important concepts to make it easy for students to understand.

Use these tips to help reduce prep time, enrich lessons, and engage students in your classes.

Josh Owens is the director of, a digital classroom resource hub dedicated to academic excellence.

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