Advancements in technology have brought about exciting developments in education. For instance, personalized learning is an approach that optimizes pace, content, and instructional strategies to a student’s unique abilities and interests. This methodology, in particular, has become increasingly common with the rise of technology like video streaming services.1 Students now have unlimited access to a vast online library of content, and information is more available than it has ever been before. However, the sources and quality of these materials aren’t always consistent or reliable. So, why not create your own videos? Whether you are looking to flip your classroom or provide a trustworthy set of review material, creating your own trustworthy set of video tutorials is easier than it has ever been.
More students use YouTube than any other demographic. A recent study conducted by Pearson and Harris Poll (link) found that Generation Z (age 14 - 23) ranked YouTube as their preferred method of learning. Considering this reality, I began creating my own video content on YouTube a few years ago. Since it’s inception, my YouTube channel, The Science Classroom, has expanded to over 27,000 subscribers and amassed more than 6.5 million total views. As it has grown, I’ve spent countless hours learning about the best practices for video design and production, and as a seasoned YouTube content creator, I offer the following tips for getting started with your own science tutorials.
Keep it simple
You don’t need to go out and purchase a bunch of complex videography equipment to create your own tutorials. You can create excellent videos with a tablet and stylus or even just your cell phone camera.
Image 1: Digital Whiteboarding app.
I use a free iPad app that turns my iPad into a recordable whiteboard screen. There are many apps available in the ios, Microsoft, and Google app store that provide a similar function. If you do not have a tablet, some successful YouTubers achieve a similar result by simply recording themselves writing on a piece of paper.
Keep it short
My students have told me that they check the playtime before they watch a video online, and if it’s too long, they are less likely to watch. With that in mind, I try to keep videos to 3 - 5 minutes long, and I always try to stay under 10 minutes.
Image 2: Keep videos short so that students will watch them.
For me, keeping a video short means writing a script and practicing beforehand. I have found that I can cut minutes from a video’s play length by sticking to a script. Students are much more likely to watch your videos if you keep them short and to the point.
Focus on Quality Sound
Poor sound quality can ruin an otherwise good video tutorial. An external microphone will help immensely; however, you don’t need to invest a lot of money since there are plenty of microphones available online for under $15.00. More important than the microphone, however, is the room that you are recording in. The larger the room, the worst the sound, so try to find a small space to record your videos. Additionally, you want to make sure that there are no ambient noises in the background (like an air conditioner or barking dog). Lastly, it’s best to record in a room that has some sound damping in place. You don’t need to cover the walls in egg cartons since a bedroom has plenty of sound damping already. Carpeting, drapes, and a bed with a plush comforter work wonders to absorb echo and make your voice sound full and crisp.
Image 3: A bedroom makes a great recording studio.
Have you made your own video tutorials before? Leave a comment; I’d love to learn some of your trips and tricks.
- U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education: 2017 National Education Technology Plan Update, Washington, D.C., 2017.