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Creating Evergreen Videos

Laptop screen displaying evergreen trees

Creating effective course videos for our courses takes time, effort, and energy. The things that faculty already are quite low on. So, when we create a course video, we want it to last. Here are a few ways that can help you create videos that will stay evergreen:

Decide if it's a keeper. Not all video materials we create for our courses can or should be made to be evergreen. For instance, you may want to create short, informal video announcements that convey class-specific feedback and information. But other videos like course overviews, microlectures, and demonstrations, may not really change from course to course. Before you take the time to plan, script, and shoot a video, you should decide if you can or should reuse it.

Create a plan. Once you decide to create a reusable video, take a few moments to sketch out your process. For instance, you may want to start by reviewing your lesson’s learning goals and determine how your video(s) will help you reach them. Map out the content you want to cover in your video(s) and how you want to cover that content. For instance, will you be creating a slide deck to accompany your narration? Will you use a script or scripted points to cover your material? Thinking through the process at this stage will help you create an effective video that you’ll want to reuse.

Chunk the information. Once you have mapped out the content you plan to cover, you can look for places where you effectively “chunk” the information into the recommended 3-5 minute segments. You can think of these segments as subtopics that relate to the overall lesson, but can also stand alone if needed. Chunking information into microlectures will help make the materials manageable for students as they work through the lesson. It also has benefits for us when creating them. First, it’s much easier to schedule time to shoot a 3-5 minute video than it is to a 5+ minute video. Second, if you have to update your video, you may only have to reshoot a short video rather than reshoot a lengthy one. Finally, you may be able to reuse video in another course since it is topical rather than course-specific.

Use text for the specifics. When you create multimedia materials, you want to refrain from immediately dating them by mentioning specific times, dates, or events that may be happening. Students will be scratching their heads about the “upcoming spring break” when they’re watching the video in the fall. But that doesn’t mean that those things aren’t important. Instead of recreating our videos for each semester, keep important time-sensitive information in surrounding text that can be quickly edited so that you don’t have to re-edit or reshoot the video itself.

Use edit before delete. Creating and updating videos can sometimes be a lengthy process, and we may reach for the delete button in a moment of frustration. But before you hit the “delete forever” button, ask yourself if there is truly nothing worth keeping in the video. Chances are the video could be edited rather than scrapped entirely. Spending some time familiarizing yourself with a few editing tools like trimming, cutting, and transitions now will ultimately save you time later.

Creating effective, evergreen videos helps us to meet our learning goals and engage our students while also helping us to design with sustainability in mind.


Want to learn more about using multimedia in the classroom? Want to talk about designing a sustainable course? Join the OLT Community of Practice for more of these conversations.

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