Below are some general guidelines when
looking to produce an online course script that can be used to record video
content (e.g. MOOC, blended learning,…). The guidelines are divided into two
main sections: timing and narrative script.
A good example of a meaningful, engaging
video trailer containing images consistent to what can be expected in the full
program can be found in the ‘Through the wormhole’ trailer:
The timing of the video depends on the
purpose of its use. Although there some general guidelines referring to
preferred timing, you as a teacher must consider the content of the video in order to consider the
timing. But no matter how long (e.g. full simulations of a process) or short
(e.g. teaser video, content element) the video is meant to be, a good narrative
helps to create an engaging and captivating video (or audio, as a good
narrative applies to both audio and visual media).
bit of video: the branding (logo). Keep this to an absolute minimum.
Branding should happen in a singular instant.
bit of meaningful info: the course teaser: timing around 2 minutes, see
further down this document for specific course teaser pointers.
content describing one coherent part of the course content (bite size: aim
at 5 min, max 6 min). For a non-educational video, attention drops at 2
minutes, learner attention for educational videos drops quickly after 6 minutes (Guo, Kim & Rubin, 2013; Fishman,
meaningful video content: a full process description at a specific
authentic location, explaining a full process demands time. But still, make
sure to write a consize, brief script and be really weary of having more than
12 min of video length even for long concepts. Focusing only on what needs to
be shared to understand that particular bit of content. (Tip: keep in mind your
learners are watching a movie, if a scene in a movie takes too long or does not
seem to lead anywhere, their mind starts wondering. If too many scenes are not
goal-driven, they turn to another movie).
Overall, the length of a video
should be kept to the minimum that is needed to describe or illustrate one
coherent learning objective
. And you must always consider, what does this
video add to the content that is needed to understand that particular bit of
content which is one learning objective of the full course.
Before building a script, think back and
try to recall any professor or teacher you have had who gave inspiring lessons…
and try to figure out why they were inspiring? Being inspiring enhances
: know what you want to talk about, cut it into consize and meaningful
pieces, see how you can build a story with the pieces you have (find a
narrative to connect all the pieces together that captures attention).
Main action to keep in mind:
- is this content relevant to the topic of the course?
- does this multimedia segment align with the learning objectives/results you want your learners to achieve with this learning segment?
- is the story of interest to is it explained as briefly yet meaningful as possible (length can vary, but being consize and to the point is necessary to keep the learners’ attention)?
- if you want to reuse the material, it is important that the content is self-contained, and not referring to other parts (eg. avoid: “as we have seen in a previous video”, this saves time in the editing room).
create a narrative script? Because it gives you an overview of what you
want to say (or what you want others to say), you can check whether all the
elements of a particular subject area are actually covered, and it saves time
when recording parts of a course when you are sure all the content is covered
(revisions of recorded material can be costly and time consuming).
: if you are writing a script
for someone else’s course, make sure the review your script before going into
What makes a great lesson?
In many cases an inspiring teacher is
both a real passionate expert in her or his area of expertise, and a great
story teller. This means the content they provide is relevant, timed in
accordance to the content that needs to be delivered in a specific time frame, and
it is coherent. The content that is provided needs to be (and look like) high
quality material (evidence-based, well structured, and be open to some sort of
Some pointers writing an engaging script
Get an idea of all the ‘actors’ in your
Which elements are at the core of your course, how can you make
them more interesting? How can you use these actors to build a course? (eg.
Energy is the ‘good’ guy, while an earthquake can disrupt the energy
equilibrium, in that case the earthquake can be the ‘bad’ guy, and as such
become part of a narrative to make a specific part of the course more
Start with an immediate hook.
the audience attention from the start. Start with a general idea that you know
many of the students/professors wonder about (a good example can be seen here,
through the wormhole trailer - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IawpF062Ds ). Integrate moments of reflection: provide
very brief cliff hangers (what would you do in case X or Y happened? Offer
options to trigger reflection, or offer challenges that learners can relate to
in order to get their attention)
Create a learning journey and make it
. Provide narrative throughout the course: if the course has
elements which flow one to the other, try and find a narrative that feels
natural to these steps. Try to find an authentic learning context, related to
actual cases in the field, and distill an overarching story from that: “All was
well on the island of Eden, the energy that was used was stable and people used
that source of energy for transportation, food production and general comfort.
Then the unthinkable happened and due to a power breach, the island was cut off
from its main energy supply. Unfortunately it was in the middle of winter so
priorities needed to be set in order to safeguard the islands citizens…. And
from there different case studies with solutions, or different approaches can
be shared as content modules. Remark
sometimes this umbrella story that can embed content from all the modules given
in the course, only starts to emerge once you see the modules of the course itself.
Keep it poignant.
Although a narrative is built, all the content should be brief,
consize and relevant. In a classroom you can elaborate, learners do not dare to
leave an auditorium, but if a video is elaborating too much or not getting to
the point, learners simply move to the next bit of information. Therefore, it
is good to constantly ask yourself: which message do I want to put across, what
is at the core of this content, and what do I want the learner to get out of
this section. If you feel that more information needs to be provided, consider
adding it as additional reading.
Use clear structure.
A story needs
to have a beginning (situating what is to be expected), a middle (where you
gradually go deeper into the content, takes more time. Needs sign-posting in
between modules for ease of learning), and an end (wrap up with conclusions,
recapturing what is said and consequently should be learned).
Provide authentic scenes and situations
Are there elements in the course that can be used as visual extra’s? For
instance, do not talk about lab work, but show a lab while explaining
something. Are you particularly happy with a new invention, show the invention.
Did you create a new model or design, show the design. .
In case you want to create a course
teaser script (short video that can be used for promotional purposes for your
course), it is good to keep the following elements in mind:
The teaser should be truthful to the content
that can be expected
(mention the big lines, or big topics/modules).
This means that the topics listed, should be part of the actual course once it
starts. It also means that the teaser should be a representation of the other
audiovisual media in the course (do not use high-impact simulations in your
teaser video, if you are not planning to use them in your actual course).
. Remember that an
idea that is not concluded, is an idea you keep in your mind for a longer
period of time. So provide some open questions, or open ideas in the teaser…
challenges or enigma’s that might trigger curiosity in the potential learners,
yet will only be answered in the course.
Plant/laboratory/ad hoc meaningful location
Some locations provide additional
meaning to a video. Adding a meaningful location can add to the authenticity of
learning by using a real life location to describe particular content. If you
talk about a particular part in the
process of a windmill energy park, it becomes more meaningful if you show that part
in action while describing it.
Additional ad hoc tools enabling advanced
using a 360 camera:
a 360 camera enables the learner to look at something
from all angles (360 degrees). For example: if you are recording a video on the
topic of emergency health care in an ambulance, it is of use to provide a full
angle perspective of who does what in the ambulance, and which instruments are
available and used during the drive to the hospital. This means that a full
view of the inside of an ambulance will provide more meaning and will allow the
learner to zoom in and out to a point of interest to them, or that you can use
a virtual 360 recording to train ambulance drivers (see short example here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhUi-jrrzgI
Free MOOC on recording a 360 degrees
virtual reality movie: https://www.udemy.com/cinematic-vr-crash-course-produce-virtual-reality-films/
These recordings integrate an additional tool is to add a virtual
that can be seen using virtual goggles of any kind to
really get a feeling of what that particular plant looks like.
making an augmented simulation
based on a meaningful location, which can be
manipulated by the learner (e.g. using an augmented simulation of that
particular place that is triggered by a QR-code provided inside of a course
which the learner can scan with their smartphone). An augmented reality
simulation provides a virtual design or model of a specific object. Because it
is virtual, you can look at it from different angles offering a fuller (3D)
understanding of the object. A straightforward implementation of Augmented
Reality for learning can be seen in this integration inside the Roman Forum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdzwDVR93-c
or a well known example from Ikea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xC6t2eEPkPc
. Another example is now looking at
collaboration through augmented reality: https://medium.cinematicvr.org/enhancing-collaboration-with-virtual-reality-5e168f1548d2
Guo, P. J., Kim,
J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An
empirical study of mooc videos. In Proceedings
of the first ACM conference on Learning@ scale conference (pp. 41-50). ACM.