Designing Great Video Lessons

Best practices and general design tips to help instructors and designers create amazing Zaption lessons. A PDF of these principles can be found here.

Using Video

CONTENT IS KING: Video is the centerpiece of Zaption lessons. Be sure to find and select videos that align with your learning goals and interest your learners.

KEEP IT SHORT-N-SWEET: Long lessons can be difficult to watch, especially if there are long sections without any interactivity. The length will vary depending on your content and audience, but try to keep the total time below 15 minutes whenever possible. 

LESS IS MORE: Most lessons work best with only 1-3 video clips. If you want to include more videos, consider creating more than one lesson.

TRIM IT: Eliminate sections of the video that aren’t needed, especially at the beginning and end. Just click the Trim button over the video pane.

USE THE RIGHT TOOLS: When producing original videos, consider using video editing software to handle more complex tasks like adding titles, transitions, special effects, etc.  Once complete, upload your video file to YouTube or Vimeo and then use Zaption to add more interactivity.

Using Interactive Elements

MIX IT UP: Use different types of elements to keep students engaged as they watch the video. But don’t add elements just for the sake of it; be thoughtful about the placement of elements to focus on the important concepts and deepen understanding.

BRANCH OUT: Use the Jump element (by itself and within the Multiple Choice feedback tab) to skip ahead or jump back to a specific place in a video. Branching can enhance the learning experience by forcing the viewer to review material they didn’t understand, or give the viewer more control over optional parts of the lesson.  For example, you could give users the option of watching a short or long explanation. 

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Be sure to give the viewer plenty of time to read and interact with each element before the screen changes.

PROPER PACING: Space your elements out for a smooth viewing experience; putting too many elements back-to-back with short intervals can distract viewers from your video content and make them feel rushed. 

VISUALIZE IT: Insert image slides to complement the main video, especially when there is a lot of narration in a video or it is dominated by interviews (“talking heads”).

BE CONCISE: With limited space, keep text to a minimum. If you can say it in 6 words instead of 10, do it! Zaption purposely doesn’t provide formatting tools to encourage you to keep it brief!

QUICK QUIZ: Add a mini-quiz to a lesson by layering elements on top of each other, creating groups of elements.

SIDE-BY-SIDE: Add an element to each side of the lesson—over the video pane and the right sidebar—to add even more value to the elements. For example, add an image or quote over the video pane and ask the viewer to respond with a text response element on the right sidebar. 


Crafting Questions

KEEP ‘EM THINKING: Use a variety of different response elements to engage your learners—there are 5 to choose from, plus the discussion element!

GO DEEPER: Incorporate questions the support critical thinking rather than just recall. There are many web resources for tips on asking effective questions (this, too). 

GIVE FORMATIVE FEEDBACK: The multiple-choice element allows you to give feedback on a correct/incorrect response with or without an explanation. Also, you can branch to a different part of the lesson based on the viewers response; this is a great way to review a section of the video after an incorrect answer.

TAKE IT FURTHER: Extend beyond the lesson by eliciting practical next steps and calling the viewer to action. At the end of lesson, considering linking out to other lessons or web resources to “learn more.”

Lesson Structure

GO WITH THE FLOW: The video and elements should complement each other, not compete for the viewer’s attention. Take this into consideration when choosing your videos and placing your elements.

COMPELLING TITLES: Use brief but interesting titles to help viewers quickly understand the content and purpose of your lesson.

INTRODUCTIONS: Title slides or warm-up questions at the very beginning of the lesson will introduce the topic and focus the viewer on the learning goal. 

WRAP IT UP: Add reflective questions, summary text slides, or a group of elements to the end of the lesson. This is an opportunity to wrap up the lesson and call the viewer to action. 

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Add intro text to the tile screen to give the viewer context and purpose for watching the lesson.

TESTING, TESTING: Be sure to view the lesson all the way through before sharing it with viewers. This allows you to tweak the timing and catch any errors!

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