Principles of Design for Online Learning: A Short Guide

Take a second to deconstruct the following video by Dan Myer.

dy/av : 002 : the next-gen lecturer

Next Generation Lecturer

Not only does Dan do a good job at illustrating how to use text and images, the medium he chooses to use to share this with his colleagues is a well crafted video. I’ve had this video generate considerably discussion (especially among Math teachers) and learning. It’s an excellent example of using the medium well.

Advantages of Video

Video is excellent at grabbing and maintaining attention (witness the popularity of YouTube!). It also is a good medium for conveying and creating emotion, which, in turn helps engagement.

For teachers, video serves a particular advantage in that it can be pre-made and then used by students at a different time (or used multiple times). The growing popularity of a “Flipped Classroom”, where teachers record their lectures and have students access them at home and use class time to discuss information, is built on the ability of creating easy and engaging video presentations.

Video also excels at depicting real-life events.

Disadvantages of Video

As with audio, video is not self-paced.

Video is also bandwidth intensive and requires proper infrastructure to function well.

Using Video: Rules of Thumb

  1. It is very important to learn how to embed video from video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Look for the “embed” or “share” symbol. When located, you can copy the code into your LMS or blog site. (This also allows you to remove the many distracting videos found on YouTube side columns).
  2. We’re now in the transition from video sites that run on flash to sites that use HTML 5 (and associated Video Codices) instead. This is important because many Apple devices don’t run flash.Whenever possible, try and avoid flash.
  3. For a learning environment, keep video segments to five minutes or less (this helps with chunking information).
  4. Always preview web video before placing it in an online learning environment (this might seem obvious, but we teachers have been known to be pressed for time and NOT watch the video segment to its very end).

Tools and Techniques


  1. While I know some districts block YouTube, it is by the far the best learning tool for video. It’s incredibly easy to upload video and then use it on various sites. Vimeo is another great site (especially for more artistic development).
  2. YouTube also has a simple editor that allow you to merge and edit combinations of video:
  3. Additional software favorites are Adobe Premier, Camtasia studio, and the staples of iMovie and Windows Movie Maker.


  1. Video – good video – takes considerable planning if created by the teacher. Scripting (and investing the time) creates quality.
  2. Use screencasts (video of actions on the screen) to give instructions to students on how to do activities. Jing allows for create of 5 minute flash videos and is very easy to use.
  3. Consider learning some basics of video editing.
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