Your Instructional Video Style: How to Craft the Perfect Learning Experience

Effective transmission of knowledge is crucial, especially when delivering an online course. Videos are perfect for the job because they combine sound, text, and movement, and can engage learners with the taught material better and for longer periods of time.

If you want to start creating educational videos though, you first need to think about what instructional strategy you are going to follow.

Will you use a whiteboard, a selfie-style video, or an animation?

Choosing your instructional video style is essential, as this will inform your lesson plan, dialogue, and video edits. Excellent video recording won’t happen by chance. To put forth the performance, you need to use specific methods that will guide your instruction and video creation process.
As the presenter, you will also need to figure out the best way to appear in your videos and how you want your learners to interact with the instructional content.

Currently, video-based learning comes in the form of instructional videos that range from direct classroom recordings to highly elaborate video post-production. In this article, we will go through the different types of instructional videos and explain what each one entails.

In this blog post we will present and compare the most Common Types of Instructional Videos and their effectiveness, focusing on the key role of the instructor.

Here’s a quick list of what we will be covering:

The Instructor’s Presence
The Speaker or the Board
16 Different Ways You Can Use Videos to Build Your Lectures
1. Animated Lectures
2. Explainer Videos
3. Simple Slides Presentation Videos
4. Handwriting Boards
5. Screencasting
6. Presence Overlapping the Slides Presentation
7. Presence in a Split Screen
8. Using a Light Board
9. Presence Active on a Whiteboard
10. Presence in Full Screen
11. Selfie Videos
12. Autobiographical Footage
13. Conversation
14. Micro Videos
15. Training Videos
16. Tutorial Videos
The Instructor’s Presence
A question that arises often and concerns video production is how the instructor’s presence is deciphered in the various lecture styles. To understand how presence is constructed in lectures we must first refer to and explain the terms agency and intersubjectivity in elearning design.

Agency</p Intersubjectivity
What it is The level of synchronous social interaction within the lecture. The implicit dialogue and unspoken reactions that arise during lectures.
Depends upon how words are integrated with the various other semiotic resources of a lecture.

Example Drawing on a whiteboard while talking.
Lectures with strong agency are:
– Screencasts,
– Handwriting boards,
– Presence active on whiteboard and
– Using a light board.

-How the presenter is interspersed with slides.
-How the speaker naturally orients himself towards the material.

The strongest intersubjectivity is achieved with presence in full-screen.

Effective Design Visual images accompanying spoken exposition are more effective when they are constructed on-the-fly by the lecturer (ex. whiteboards).
Most potent when they are concentrated on attention to the hands that are producing the drawing (Fiorella and Mayer, 2015).

Intersubjectivity impacts where learners will invest their attention, therefore it should be wisely managed.
Agency and intersubjectivity make researchers consider lecturing as an “embodied” form of activity. Embodiment refers to how meaning is negotiated and concentrated on the body and its demeanor posture, movements, and gestures.

Indeed, learners do not perceive what might be in the head of the lecturer, but what they concretely perceive is their vocal, gestural, and positioned physical performance of concepts. The level of the human embodiment varies widely between video lecture formats from full shots that include the audience heads to screen capturing of the tip of the pen.

The Speaker or the Board
Based on the concept of embodiment, researchers (Espino et al., 2016) have classified lectures into two main categories: Speaker-centric and board-centric, according to where the emphasis is being put (e.g., on the speaker or the slides and animations?). These two terms can be generalized to the broader notions of “human embodiment” and “instructional media” respectively.

In the article, we are using those terms to characterize several lecture styles we met on YouTube, providing video examples that focus on these two factors. However, we have to mention that the speaker is not always in competition with the instructional media for the attention of the learner. The two can be complementary dimensions.

The taxonomy will help you choose which instructional video production style best suits your course and also possibly give you some ideas to create new ones.

16 Different Ways You Can Use Videos to Build Your Lectures
So, here are present 16 different ways you can use videos to build your lectures.

How is Embodiment achieved
Animations Only when an animated speaker exists.
Simple Slides Presentations Absent
Voice over screencasts Strong agency. Spoken exposition are constructed on-the-fly by the speaker.
Handwriting boards Strong agency. Spoken exposition are constructed on-the-fly by the speaker.
Presence overlapping the slides presentation The presenter orients themselves towards the presentation.
The slides come in full-screen and the speaker disappears.

Presence in a Split Screen The presenter orients themselves towards the presentation.
The slides come in full-screen and the presenter disappears

Using a light board Strong agency. Spoken exposition are constructed on-the-fly by the speaker.
The presenter orients themselves towards the presentation.

The presenter is interspersed with slides.

Presence active on a whiteboard Strong agency. Spoken exposition are constructed on-the-fly by the speaker.
The presenter orients themselves towards the presentation.

The presenter is interspersed with slides.

Presence in full screen The presenter orients themselves towards text phrases.
The presenter is interspersed with slides or other media.

Selfie Videos The presenter orients themselves towards text phrases.
The presenter is interspersed with slides or other media.

Autobiographical footage The presenter orients themselves towards text phrases.
The presenter is interspersed with slides or other media.

Conversation The presenters are interspersed with slides.
Micro videos The presenter offers information about a specific subject in less than a minute.
Training videos The presenters create videoes that are often short and private. Usually these videos are not shared publicly on YouTube or other social media channels.
Tutorial videos The presenters deliver how-to videos, also known as easy-to-follow or step-by-step instruction videos.
We begin our taxonomy with the styles that are more board-centric and finish with those who are more speaker-centric. Let’s exploe further each one of them:

1. Animated lectures

Animated video lectures are becoming more and more popular, allowing students to learn in a fun and relaxing way. Animations are very similar to the cartoons we used to watch when we were kids and maybe that is what makes them so engaging.

In this type of lecture, the main protagonist is the media presented while the instructor plays an assistive role with a voice-over (most of the time).

Instructional animated video by Pikewood Creative
2. Explainer videos

Explainer videos are high-quality short-form informative videos (lasting from 30 seconds to 3 minutes) that are used to explain how something works in a simple and engaging way to its target audience. For this reason, they are super effective in video marketing as well. They are often used as a way to describe a particular product or service.

Explainer videos can cover a range of subjects, have strong CTAs, and are focused on problem-solving. There are many types of explainer videos with the most popular being the animated ones in the form of visual illustrations, motion graphics, and live-action.
3. Simple Slides Presentations

Slides presentation videos are one of the most popular and easiest to create. For these, the presenter consists of only one individual who is either absent or present with their voice. In each case, the lecture is board-centric.

Slide presentations are typically long-form and require more time to produce as well as more attention from viewers. However, they can become very engaging if you put a lot of work into designing each of the slides carefully. Apart from PowerPoint, there is a great variety of tools out there you can use to create such presentations and add a voiceover as well.
4. Handwriting boards

In this type of video, the viewer sees the words being written at the moment of speech. The presenter is absent, however, the element of agency is strong here, especially when a writing hand appears on the video screen.

In this category, we can also include whiteboard animations which are available on most video animation platforms. The instructor can choose if a hand will be visible or not.
5. Screencasting

A screen-casts -also known as ‘video screen capture’, is the most suitable type of video to use if you want to teach a group of learners about new software. Screencast videos consist of “the capture all of the action on a computer screen” format and often contain audio narration.

Creating a screencast helps technical instructors show off their work. Instructors can also create screencasts to demonstrate the proper step-by-step procedure to solve a problem.
The screen movement can either be static or dynamic (follow the cursor). A screencast is essentially a clip or visual recording of the changes over time that a user sees on a computer screen, enhanced with audio narration, so the agency is quite strong.
6. Presence overlapping the slides presentation

Again, this type of instructional video is board-centric: The instructor is present, but learners’ attention focuses on the slide presentation. Some screencast tools now allow instructors to create such videos that show not only their slides but also their presence in the footage, usually in a frame and at varying positions in the background sequence.
In other cases, the narrator might appear in a window in various positions adjacent to the sequence of the slide presentation or the narrator, and the slide sequence can be presented simultaneously and in adjacent frames.

7. Presence in a Split Screen

Split screen gives the illusion that instructors are in the same room with the presentation. Again the presented material outmatches the instructor in the viewing experience. Instructors use a white backdrop or a green screen in the background and then they add these shootings over their slides presentation.

This way, they can present themselves talking simultaneously with their slides and in adjacent frames. Intersubjectivity is achieved when at certain points the footage focuses on either the slides or the presenter only.
8. Using a light board

In lightboard video shoots the lecturer writes on plexiglass. The camera is facing into a mirror and filming through it, so the text that is written on the plexiglass gets reversed.

At the same time, the instructor’s background must be black for the letters to be visible. In this type of video again the material is more important than the instructor because it is standing between the viewer and the presenter.
9. Presence active on a whiteboard

In this type of lecture, the narrator moves in front of the content and interacts with it (e.g. on a whiteboard), and usually, this features a direct recording that shows the narrator located in a traditional classroom-based learning environment. The video creates a room sense of the two.

Here, the two factors, the instructor’s presence, and instructional media complement each other as learners tend to split their focus on each of those components equally. The advantage of whiteboard presentations is that they are easy to create and don’t require any particular expertise in video editing.

Acting on whiteboard videos can also be combined with animations and other side effects that create a finer intersubjectivity
10. Presence in full screen

Most of the video lectures that you can find available online now are in this category. Videos with the presenter directly speaking to the audience feel more natural. These help learners familiarize themselves with the instructor and as a result, they can build a strong rapport with them more easily.

Full-screen presence can be recorded using the green screen technique. The instructor can place themselves anywhere – even superimposed on another presentation. Setting it up so that it shows a well-decorated room, space, or background (e.g. an office) is equally efficient.

Contrary to the previous video styles we examined, there is no agency here and the material is speaker-centric. Very common is the use of the cueing technique. Cueing refers to the adornment of a lecture with necessary keywords or phrases instructors want to emphasize.
Those keywords are easily added by any video editing tool and can either overlap the presenter or appear next to them. In each case, instructors must decide in the pre-recording stage where they will put their phrases.

Other components that may be added in full-screen presentations are slides, other videos, photos, or animations, which can enrich the video’s intersubjectivity.
11. Selfie Videos

Selfie videos are much more lively and engaging, and they make the background much more interesting for the viewer. Selfie videos can serve numerous purposes from traditional lectures with the presence in full screen to extensive field trips.

Selfie videos are speaker-centric and the instructional media plays an assistive role. The presenter may be interspersed with slides, animations, other videos, annotations, images, and more.
12. Autobiographical footage

Autobiographical footage is different from selfie videos. They are also spontaneous and fun but intend to describe a specific experience in something (usually in the presenter’s story).

The instructor explains how they achieved something and provides clear steps in the process. Embodiment in the last two video categories is similar and can vary.
13. Conversation

Creating videos where two or more people discuss a topic and export valuable conclusions is a very engaging and authentic way to convey essential messages. At the same time, it is the most effective way to emphasize the people of a lecture video.
Just make sure the conversation is substantial and has something great to offer. Instructional materials are usually absent, however, the footage may sometimes be adorned with slides or certain keywords. In this case, the speakers usually do not show any intersubjectivity with the material.

14. Micro videos

Just like the name suggests, micro videos are short videos that offer information about a specific subject in less than a minute. They can be used to deliver a simple message and work great with an audience that has short attention spans but wants to learn something quickly.
Micro videos are almost never in isolation. Often a series of micro-videos are used inside a course to cover a subject thoroughly in a simple manner having viewers watch them in rapid succession. This type of video is most suitable when talking about software features.

15. Training Videos

Training videos are often used by companies or training managers instead of individual instructors and course creators. They are common in corporate training settings and can be found in several new employee onboarding programs.
16. Tutorial videos

Another popular type of instructional video is tutorial videos. These are also often called how-to videos because they provide easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions on how to do something or complete a certain task and try to cover the topic extensively
Tutorial videos are longer than explainer videos and micro videos because they tend to teach niche subjects. Instruction is provided using live-action demonstrations, voice-overs, recordings, animations, screenshots, and more. Unlike training videos, tutorial videos can be accessed freely and are publicly available.

Ready to Create Your Own Instructional Videos?
In your journey to becoming an effective online educator, the choice of instructional video style is pivotal. We’ve explored 16 different approaches that can captivate and engage your learners, ultimately enhancing the impact of your teaching.

But now, let’s take action!

Put your newfound knowledge to the test with LearnWorlds. Start your 30-day free trial today and experience firsthand how you can put any of these instructional video styles in action to unleash the full potential of your online teaching! Don’t miss this opportunity to elevate your courses and inspire your learners.


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