Video storytelling is one of the most popular storytelling forms in our culture today. Consider the ubiquity of movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, and video games. Students have experience as consumers of videos, but creating their own encourages them to practice digital literacy skills while deeply engaging with course content. Make students the producers by adapting a more traditional assignment (e.g. essay, presentation) into a video project.
When students are content creators, they must think critically about their audience and purpose as well as ethical implications when sharing information for a wider audience. A good starting point, is for simpler projects like Adobe Spark videos, narrated PowerPoints, or talking head videos. These can usually be done independently and over less time.
More complex video projects take more time and planning. They are also an excellent opportunity for student collaboration, accomplishing multiple course learning goals in both content mastery and group dynamics. Most video projects need to be done as a group because of the many components involved.
Make video projects meaningful/authentic.
Like any assessment, video projects must be relevant and meaningful, meeting at least one course learning objective. You should be able to answer “Why?” for this project — why are they making a video (rather than essay, podcast, etc.), and why are they making the type of video you’ve assigned?
When considering “why a video project?” — think about what would make the content of the video unique and/or helpful. Since there are so many videos already available on YouTube and elsewhere, it’s important to focus video content more at the application, analysis, and synthesis levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, rather than repeating facts or summarizing existing works.
One reason to use video in the classroom is its relevance outside of the classroom, which should be considered when designing the project. How can the videos that students create be useful to their activities/interests outside the classroom and/or their future academic or career goals?
Provide voice and choice.
When designing your video project, consider where you might embed opportunities for student voice and choice. Are students able to make decisions about their video topic and/or target audience? Can they choose their approach to the video (e.g. camera recording vs. slides-based)? Can they choose whether or not they work in a group? Certain aspects of the project will not be flexible, so that they effectively meet your learning objectives, but other aspects provide an opportunity to give students agency in this assignment. (UDL Checkpoint 7.1)
Note: Too many choices can be overwhelming for some students. We recommend having a sample or recommended approach available for students who aren’t sure how to start. The assignment can include a statement like “Not sure how you want to record your video? One way is to use Zoom to record your webcam and screen.”
Set clear expectations.
Students have gotten used to the basic expectations for essays and quizzes, but video projects are less frequent and more varied as assignments. It’s important to be very clear about what you expect in the final product. Consider these questions:
- What is the purpose and audience of this video? (this may be up to the students, but clarify)
- How long should the final video product be?
- Does it involve research/citations? If so, how would you like those citations to be presented (e.g. verbal, in description, separate file, final slide)?
- Should it include media elements like music, sound effects, video effects, title cards, etc.?
- How will they submit this video to you and/or share with the class?
- Is closed captioning and/or text transcript required?
Each of those factors also affects the amount of time needed to complete the project. We recommend creating your own sample, following your assigned parameters, to help you judge how much time to dedicate to this project, both inside and outside of class time.
An additional consideration is that videos are meant to be shared with a broader audience than just the instructor. Will students be publishing their videos to the web? Embedding them on a website or ePortfolio? Sharing them with their peers in the course? This should be clear from the beginning of the project as it will impact their choices throughout the process. It also provides an opportunity for students to license their work with Creative Commons.
Lastly, as with any assignment, it’s important to clearly communicate how the project will be assessed. Rubrics are a great way to do this. A single point rubric that lists the expectations, has room for comments, and includes a points column is a natural fit for a project like this. Here are some sample rubrics for video projects:
DIGL 101 Video Project Rubric (analytic and specific only to video quality, not content)
From EDME 552 (a screencast project):
|Analysis: 2 Positive Examples
Please identify two examples of the framework’s principles in an online learning module. Explain specifically HOW those materials or strategies exemplify the principles.
|Analysis: 1 Suggested Improvement
Suggest a specific revision to a material, tool, or method used in the module that you have analyzed that would further implement these principles.
|Screencast Quality & Accessibility
The audio and video quality of the video must be high enough to not hinder understanding. It must be accessible, either with embedded captions OR with an accompanying text transcript.
From Lehman, DuFrene, and Lehman’s (2010) article “YouTube Video Project: A ‘Cool’ Way to Learn Communication Ethics” (article appendix):
|Topic Selection (20%)
|Video Production (30%)
|Presentation Organization (30%)
|Presentation Delivery (20%)
From Bryan Alexander’s (2017) book, The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media (Generated by a California State University, Chico class):
|Include a compelling narration of a story.|
|Provide a meaningful context for understanding the story being told.|
|Use images to capture and/or expand upon emotions found in the narrative.|
|Employ music and other sound effects to reinforce ideas.|
|Invite thoughtful reflection from the audience.|
Provide options for feedback and reflection.
Video projects are complex, so plan to set up check points throughout the assignment to help guide the process. When students submit an outline, script, storyboard, and/or production plan, they have opportunities for formative feedback from peers and instructors. Be sure to allow sufficient time for this feedback process. (UDL Checkpoints 6.2 & 8.4)
Also, when leveraging peer feedback, it’s important to scaffold this for students. Providing them with some guiding questions will help them develop skills in constructive critique. You can also leverage your assignment rubric for guiding peer feedback (rubric information above under “Set Clear Expectations”). (UDL Checkpoint 8.3)
In addition to feedback from others, it is helpful to prompt students to reflect on their own experience of creating a video. When students document their learning, they are more likely to remember and apply these skills/concepts to future endeavors. This can happen during the process and/or at the end. (UDL Checkpoint 9.3)
Scaffold ethical behavior.
When we think about ethical behavior in creating videos, we need to consider how this project will give students an opportunity to
- create accessible videos (for a wide range of audiences)
- learn ethical copyright practices
- protect their own and other’s privacy
- practice information validation skills
- contribute positively to the media landscape
As students plan and create their videos, have them consider those who may not be able to process it as they do. In video production, this most often means that you need captioning for folks who can’t access audio content. The content itself should also be accessible, explaining terms or references so as not to alienate the audience. (UDL Checkpoints 1.2 and 2.1)
Additionally, that responsibility extends to respecting copyright. If any part of a student’s production is something they didn’t make/think/say, then they need to first find out if they’re allowed to use it, and then if they do have permission, give credit where credit is due. Copyright considerations apply to student work too. Creative Commons licenses give students control over how their work is shared and used by others.
If the video will be shared beyond the classroom, students will also have to think about privacy issues. If the video is an interview, they’ll need to consider the privacy of the person being interviewed. If students plan to film in public spaces, their production planning should consider their surroundings during filming. Who is in the background of the shot? Can they be identified? Considering questions like these will help students remember the privacy and security needs of others.
Additionally, researching topics and gathering material for a video provides an excellent opportunity for students to practice information validation skills. They will need to evaluate the credibility of the sources they want to use to develop their story to ensure they are sharing information that is accurate.
Finally, at Messiah University, students are growing “toward a maturity of intellect, character and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership and reconciliation in church and society.” They should be encouraged to reflect on how their work will contribute to the digital landscape — does their video reflect these values?
To learn more about the research on video projects, check out our annotated bibliography.