Instructional Video: Keep it . .. Moving

Countdown on the old movie screen. Number 5 superimposed over words "keep it moving"

Consider this: the length of time between edits in video/film has decreased dramatically in the last 100 years. In the 1930’s, the average shot lasted 10-12 seconds. In 1990 it was closer to 6 seconds. Today, it’s 2.5-3 seconds per shot. Modern audiences have been trained to take in information much quicker—and are bored quicker when the visuals don’t change.

This gives us some idea of how to keep our students engaged when creating instructional videos. We need to keeping the visuals moving (moving the mouse, changing slides, or “cutting” from one visual to another), we’ve lost our students.

As you prepare your next instructional video, work hard to vary your visuals frequently. Additionally, try to keep the overall duration of instructional videos between 2-3 minutes. 2-3 concise, engaging, and well designed videos that are only 2-3 minutes long can be much more effective than one long, plodding video. As always, allow for some kind of assessment, too.

Despite this, there is still value in capturing video of classroom lectures; students can review material, playback at increased speed, utilize captioning, etc. . . . but to engage your students keep those videos short and keep the visuals moving.

For additional reading on how video has changed in the last 100 years, checkout’s Cinema is Evolving article. Then consider how that might impact the way you teach with your own instructional videos.