Friday, October 23, 2015

Planning an effective introductory to the course video

The first rule should be "put yourself in the students' shoes". This is a mistake that unfortunately comes easier that not when you spend a lot of time creating and developing a course. You know the course inside-out and this familiarity with its structure can make you underestimate some of the challenges or some of the "unexpected" and not successful ways students could move in the course getting confused and frustrated.

Retrieved from
When I designed my course I did this, and I have followed the steps students should take in the first video I made, however something that I did not consider was the starting point from where a student access to the course. I gave for granted that the starting point was the homepage of the course, while it is not. In the page where students arrive when they log in, is a general Canvas entry page that at this time does not show the list of the courses the student is enrolled in, but students need to click on a tab "Courses and Groups" for opening a drop down menu with the list of the courses/course in which they are enrolled. Then clicking on the name of the course they do arrive to the home page.
In the entry page though students see two lists: "to do" and "coming up".
The first list shows a partial list of assignments already due. This is particularly challenging for students who are enrolling in the course after the beginning of the course, and it happens very often. This list as I said does show assignments graded, however some assignments that have embedded content do not show in this list. Also anything that needs to read, watched, listen, does not show unless is linked to a grade.
The list coming up shows only assignments graded that are coming up in the calendar.

Before the beginning of the course, when the course was not populated, I did not see the presence of the list "to do". This has been a very misleading section that made students click directly on those assignments without accessing to the homepage and following through with the course. Since I did not foresee this issue, my original video did not include any direction for the entry page, while now I am aware of the importance of that first step for avoiding a huge sidetracking of students.

Another think that is overestimate is the fact that students will read directions :) For this reason in my video I had to add a couple of directions for finding some essential tools or the course: one is a video with the directions for typing accented letters on a keyboard, and how to use Microsoft Lync, a chatting tool that is already installed on all computers of our school district. While the former is a tool for students work, the other is their tool for connecting with me directly. Both tools are very important.

An overall good strategy for creating an introductory video should include:
  • Make a plan of the flow of the course: from where students enter to where they should go to.
  • Consider any possible deviation from he flow and alert students of the risks in taking those paths. 
  • Identify and introduce students to icons connected to particular elements of the course, so that they could recognize them later instead of guessing.
  • Make a list of the important elements students should know right from the beginning, contacts with the instructor, how to see grades, how to see teacher's comments, where to see the due dates, where to see announcements, etc...
  • If you can, TEST IT with someone who is not familiar with your course, a colleague would work, the effectiveness of your video in his/her ability to access to the course and move through following the path you planned. 
The tool I use for creating my video is Camtasia Studio. It takes a little longer than using some of the more immediate tools, but it also offers great editing capabilities, so that the final product can be of a good quality.
Unfortunately I was not able to finalize the new video today for some technical difficulties, but I hope I will be bale to publish it here tomorrow.  


  1. Great post, Emanuela. Thank you for passing on your knowledge of a good, clear, logical approach to creating an introductory video. I am planning on creating one for my spring moodle course, and this approach is going to help guide me in the project.

    1. I totally agree with b.r. I have made training videos for software, and the guidelines you have set down based upon your past challenges will help all of us create more useful and efficient videos for our students.

  2. Emanuela,
    This is a wonderful guide on creating a course video. The points you made in your opening paragraph really resonate with me-it is essential to design and approach your course from the user perspective...not the teacher perspective, and that can be challenging to do. Bon travail! ;)

  3. Necessity is the mother of invention. Well out of need we created a Moodle navigation video for our edynamics courses that are posted to Moodle. However, I know it's too long. I'm hoping to get a chance to go back and scale it back. Your tips and tricks are helpful. Thanks for sharing.