When teaching in an online course it is vital to engage students and create a connection and sense of community (Flock, 2020). Student engagement is an important component of student success and increased academic outcomes (Rioch & Tharp, 2022). The Community of Inquiry theoretical framework suggests addressing three components when designing online courses that include teaching present, cognitive presence and social presence (Flock, 2020). Teaching presence can be increased in any online courses by creating a course introduction video and weekly introduction videos to set the class climate, provide structure and organization, set expectations, and fine-tune instructions.
Weekly introduction videos can facilitate the following:
- Increase student perception of the role and presence of the instructor (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2020)
- Create connection between students and instructor (Crawford, 2020)
- State the purpose and relevance of the course (Crawford, 2020; Brame, 2016)
- Show the personality and enthusiasm of the instructor through voice and visuals (Crawford, 2020)
- Keep “time on task” (Flock, 2020, p. 141) and guidance on time management
- Communicate expectations to set the benchmark high (Flock, 2020)
- Acknowledge that a variety of learning strategies will be used for diverse student learning preferences (Flock, 2020)
Some important elements to include when creating a weekly video introduction are:
- Welcoming the student to the course and to each week’s lesson (Kent State University [KSU], n.d.)
- Providing the importance of the course and weekly content and its relevancy to practice (KSU, n.d.)
- Show course design and how each week is organized (KSU, n.d.)
- Set the tone and expectations for the course (KSU, n.d.)
- Provide special instructions for assignments (KSU, n.d.)
- Explain important concepts (Rioch & Tharp, 2022)
- Encourage students to “explore new concepts” (Rioch & Tharp, 2022, p. 207) and perspectives
Creating weekly course videos also provides an additional strategy to provide instruction, community, course culture, and add in some fun other than the black and white of written introductions and instructions. It allows the instructor to highlight important information in content and assignments that in the past students have missed or been unclear about in a manner that engages visual and aural learners. It can also add an element of fun, lightheartedness, endearing comments, and humor while creating the slides and narrative.
Link to Example artifact(s)
A suggested practice in our online nursing program is to create a course overview to be on the course homepage. However, in discussions with students, many do not view these videos. Additionally, these videos give a “tour” of the course, but often do not provide information to increase potential for success as they are very general. Teaching a 300 level Healthcare Ethics course, which typically is the second course in the online nursing program, students often struggle with organization, navigating the course, and utilizing the resources available within each week. Additionally, because this is an Allied Health course, it includes nursing students both in the RN to BSN program and dual degree program, but also healthcare management students, many of which are more acclimated to face-to-face instruction over a traditional 14-week semester.
In an effort to increase clarity, expectations, and assure students can successfully navigate the course, a brief course intro and weekly overview videos were created. These were created using Adobe Express which enables one to upload slides created in PowerPoint, arrange and narrate slides, and include background music if desired. The video can be saved and uploaded to YouTube where transcripts can be uploaded or automatic closed captioning is provided. Once captioning is available and reviewed for accuracy, the videos can be published and accessed via a link or embedded into the course. This effort to increase teaching presence has resulted in positive student feedback that was obtained via added questions on our course evaluations. When the videos were implemented in Fall 2022, less than 50% of students reported viewing them each week. We then added course announcements asking students to review the videos as they would be held accountable for the content. This brought the percentage of students viewing videos each week to 79% in the Spring 2023 semester so far.
Over the three semesters since the videos were incorporated, the overall surveys showed that 81% of the student viewing them found them to be either somewhat or extremely helpful. Student written responses included stating the videos helped with organization, understanding expectations, increased understanding of the content, they were easy to access and short, increased engagement, and provided an in depth guide for the week. This quote from a student captures the goal: “the weekly videos assisted with engagement. A sense of added involvement and familiarity was formed with watching them. An in-class experience was created with the videos. The videos reinforced weekly topics, objectives, and expectations allowing for an increase in organizing and planning.”
When considering cognitive load, Brame (2016) suggests weeding, which is to decrease extraneous components that may serve as a distraction. I felt having music in the background as long as it did not overwhelm the narrations could add an element of fun and/or relaxation. Keeping the video to less than six minutes is also recommended by Brame (2016) as decreasing cognitive load. Writing out the slide content can allow for a smooth narration. Use chunking of information in short segments and different slides to decrease cognitive overload.
We found it helpful to include announcements reminding students to view the videos. The announcement was made at the beginning of the second session the videos were in use which greatly increased the number of students viewing them. The content in the videos reflect what is already in the course through introductions, readings, videos, instructions, and rubrics, all of which students are accountable for to review and reach out to instructors with any questions. The videos serve as a comprehensive overview of each week in another form to appeal to visual and aural learners and as a guide to the week’s learning activities.
When revisions are made in weekly assignments, content, or teaching strategies, remember to revise the videos as appropriate. We recently changed learning management systems (LMS) to Brightspace which also requires a review of the videos to make necessary changes for the course navigation portions of the videos. Using a program such as Adobe Express allows only the slides specific to course revisions or navigating the course if the LMS changes to be recreated and narrated as slides can easily be deleted and new ones inserted without having to redo all slides and narration.
Create a brief survey to gather data to evaluate student perceptions of the help they provide and value to successfully navigating the course. Remember to use closed captioning and/or provide transcripts for accommodation. Finally, have fun with it!
Link to scholarly reference(s)
Brame, C.J. (2016). Effective educational videos: Principles and guidelines for maximizing student learning from video content. Life Sciences Education, 15(4), es 6, 1-6.
Crawford, S.R. (2020, February 12). Making first impression with your introduction video. Quality Matters.
Flock, H.S. (2020). Designing a community of inquiry in online courses. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 21(1), 135-153.
Kent State University. (n.d.). How to create a course introduction video. Online Learning Team.
Rioch, K.E. & Tharp, J.L. (2022). Relationships between online student engagement practices and GPA among RN-to-BSN students. Online Learning Journal, 26(2), 198-212.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2020). Creating course/unit introduction videos. Center for Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring.
Chandler, T. (2023). Create Weekly Introduction Videos to Facilitate Successful Course Navigation. In deNoyelles, A., Bauer, S. & Wyatt S. (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.