Skip to main content

Cornell University


Places to go next

Blended Learning
Active Learning
Flipping the Classroom

Need help with technology?
(607) 255-7224

Why use video?
Will simply showing videos make a difference?
How can video be used to engage students in class?
How can video be used to engage students outside of class?
Where can I find videos and how can I prepare them for my course?

Why use video?

When used effectively, videos can:

  • Stimulate interest, set the tone of a class, or elicit a shared experience among students (Poonati & Amadia, 2010).
  • Generate discussion.
  • Illustrate complex topics or bring otherwise inaccessible material into the classroom, such as:
        • a guest lecturer
        • video-based case studies
        • an experiment that is difficult or impossible to do in a lecture hall
        • footage of geographically distant places
  • Connect complex topics to real-world examples.
  • Accommodate a variety of learning styles by providing opportunities for students to engage with material visually and orally.
  • Develop media literacy and critical thinking.
  • Promote comprehension and retention of information (Choi & Johnson, 2007).
  • Engage students with course content outside of the classroom.

Will simply showing videos make a difference?

Visual stimulation and story-telling characteristics of video can lead to deeper comprehension and longer-lasting retention (Choi & Johnson, 2007), but in order for effective learning to take place:

  • Videos need to be viewed in combination with appropriate instructional methods, such as discussions and other learning activities to help ensure that students attain the intended learning outcomes. Watching videos in isolation may lead to misinterpretations, or lack of deeper understanding.
  • Students need to see the value in watching videos. Failing to clearly connect videos to instructional goals may lead students to view it as irrelevant.

How can video be used to engage students in class?

Consider integrating videos with active learning techniques: ask yourself what can be done before, during, and after a video to increase its effectiveness. Research recommends shorter two to three-minute video clips, but for longer videos, pause in between major scenes for a quick discussion or other active learning strategy to keep focused on the intended learning goals.

Example 1: Think-pair-share

  • Have students think about what they know about a topic or predict what they think would happen in a particular situation.
  • Give students a quick minute to share their thoughts with a partner.
  • Call on one or two students to explain their predictions.
  • Show the video.
  • Have students reflect with a partner on their previous predictions and reactions to the video.
  • Again, call on a few students to share thoughts.
  • Address any misconceptions and draw attention to key takeaways.

Example 2: Polling (Especially useful for addressing commonly held misconceptions)

Example 3: Guiding questions

  • Provide students with a list of guiding questions.
  • Have students create one or two more questions that they might have in addition to the ones listed, or have students turn to a partner to discuss possible answers.
  • Show the video.
  • Review answers to the questions and address any misconceptions or misinterpretations.

Example 4: Discussion

  • Introduce your topic.
  • Show the video.
  • Have students discuss the content of the video and relate it to the topic of the class.

Example 5: Media analysis

  • Ask students to discuss ways videos can be created and manipulated for effect.
  • Show a video.
  • In small groups, have students do an analysis of what they saw.
  • Draw on groups to provide summaries.
  • Have students find videos that use similar tactics.

How can video be used to engage students outside of class?

Engage students with relevant existing videos before or after lectures.

      • Find relevant videos to have students watch prior to class sessions. Consider having students complete a quick quiz on the video content to gauge comprehension and enhance retention.
      • Have students search for and share videos that illustrate course topics. Consider asking students to post their videos online (on a course website, or a course playlist on Youtube). Students can further rate and comment on each other’s video postings.

Record class lectures or microlectures for students to interact with before or after classes.

      • Create your own video with screencapture technology. Record your lectures so that you can post the videos for students to refer to after a class session. Consider reusing these videos if teaching the same course in the future.
      • Create shorter thematic videos, or microlectures from your desk also using screencapture technology. These videos can serve the purpose of reviewing lecture material, or providing background information for students who come to class with less experience with subject matter.

Providing students with videos of microlectures may open up class time to do more interactive activities. This process is often referred to as ‘flipping the classroom’, which is a form of blended learning.

Support learning with video tutorials.

      • Consult with CTI on instructional design and Academic Technologies for help with the technology for creating tutorials. Tutorials can be interactive and take many forms, such as case studies, role-plays, demonstrations of a process, or microlectures followed by quizzes.
      • Work with Cornell library faculty services to create tutorials on how to do research for your course or in your discipline. These can be designed to scaffold various research stages. For example, a first tutorial can guide students through using research databases, a second through evaluating resources, and a third through paraphrasing and quoting from texts.

Assess student learning.

      • Using screencasting technology, consider opening up student work files on your computer and recording yourself talking through your interaction with their text. Share this video as feedback on student writing. You can also use track changes to write any feedback directly on the document.
      • Have students record presentations (or group presentations) and submit them electronically and/or post them on a course website. Consider having students use a rubric to evaluate each other's presentations. This will take up much less time than having students do presentations during class time. If you and your TAs review the final products alone, choose the top five presentations to show in class.
      • Have students create mini documentaries related to course topics. These can also be peer-reviewed as well as assessed by instructors.

Where can I find videos and how can I prepare them for my course?

Finding videos

Find videos in the library’s visual material collection and on the Internet where there is a plethora of user-generated, educational, and commercially produced videos.

Selected Online Video Resources
Merlot: Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching
Library of Congress
Creative Commons
The Futures Channel
Internet Archive
National Geographic
TED Talks
YouTube University
Khan Academy
Open Yale Courses
i-Tunes U
MIT Opencourse

Preparing your video:

Additional Video Technology Tools

Tool What you can do with it

Capture screen video

Lecture capture, live webcasting, and more
Camtasia Record and edit, low cost
Record Unit Record off of your TV, DVD, etc.
Keepvid Keep and save video from YouTube
Quicktime Pro Record, convert and edit video
Tube Sock Save and share YouTube video
Tube Chop Chop and share YouTube video
Animoto Turn photos and videos into a video slideshow

*Lecture capture technologies at Cornell


CTI Using Video in Your Lecture pdf (CU NetID required to access. Link redirects to login page.)
Academic Technologies Video help webisite


Poonati, S. & Amadia, D. M. (2010). Use of popular television to enhance students’ understanding of operant conditioning. Psychology Learning and Teaching, 9(1), 25-29.

Barford, J. & Weston, C. (1997). The use of video as a teaching resource in a new university. British Journal of Educational Technology, 28(1), 40-50.

Choi, H.J. & Johnson, S. D. (2007). The effect of problem-based video instruction on learner satisfaction, comprehension and retention in college courses. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38(5), 885–895.

Laroche, L. H., Wulfsberg, G. and Young, B. (2003). Discovery videos: A safe, tested, time-efficient way to incorporate discovery-laboratory experiments into the classroom. Journal of Chemical Education, 80(8), 962-966.

Luccasen, R. A. & Thomas, M. K. (2010). Simpsonomics: Teaching economics using episodes of the Simpsons. The Journal of Economic Education,41(2), 136-149.

Sherer, P. and Shea, T. (2011). Using online video to support student learning and engagement. College Teaching, 59(2), 56-59.

Zipp, G. P. & Maher, C. (2010). Use of video-based cases as a medium to develop critical thinking skills in health science student. The Journal of College Teaching and Learning, 7(1), 1-4.
  Cornell University