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Best Practice: Intro Videos

Video everywhere is an expectation and the norm.

Whether you're just starting the design process or a seasoned online instructor, you can add an engaging introduction video to welcome your students. A short video is an easy way to make a connection with your students.

89 million people in the United States are going to watch 1.2 billion online videos today. The number is expected to double to 1.5 billion in 2016.1

Your introduction video can humanize the online experience for all students, but especially for the more hesitant and new users. You can help students realize that their instructor is a real person with enthusiasm for the subject matter. When you establish a social presence with videos, you build rapport with students and foster a sense of community.

Instructor videos can replicate the face-to-face interactions in the traditional classroom. You can ignite excitement about your course and explain how relevant the content is to them. You can give students a taste of your personality and dispel fears about the online learning environment.

What should I include in an intro video?

Don't overload students with too much information. Short and concise is best. Try to make your videos no longer than three or four minutes. When is the last time you watched an instructional video that was longer than five minutes that held your attention? If you have more to say, record more videos.

  • Short and engaging. Remember, you want to motivate your students and not overload them with too much information. Don't discuss specifics or add dates.
  • Show your personality. Include a section with photos or clips of your life. What do you do in your free time?
  • Follow the rules. Include your expectations for behavior and participation.
  • Add notables. Include special instructions or requirements, such as virtual class meetings.
  • When are you available? List your availability and communication expectations. Let students know your expected response time for emails and posts, and when grades are available after a deadline.
  • Include your virtual office hours. Let them know that questions and concerns are welcomed.
  • Help is available. Direct students to available tech support to show that you want everyone to be successful.
  • Start here. Show students exactly how to get started in your course.

What doesn't belong in an intro video?

Some information isn't necessary in a welcome video. Add these specific details in the syllabus:

  • Course times and meeting places
  • All the details of your contact information
  • University rules
  • Plagiarism and netiquette guidelines
  • Grading policies
  • Textbooks
  • Specific assignment list and important due dates

Tips for success

With a little effort and planning, you can produce a high-quality video. Also, many institutions have video recording studios with teleprompters. You might feel more comfortable reading your script or referring to it as needed. With a full script, you can easily add captions to your video. To make multimedia in your course accessible to people who have disabilities, you must add captions.

  • Create a script or detailed outline to help keep your video brief.
  • Sit close to the camera—this helps students read your nonverbal cues and facial expressions.
  • Make eye contact with your audience by looking into the camera or webcam. Don't concentrate on the script or watch yourself in the computer.
  • Check microphone settings.
  • Use a plain, light background and wear dark, contrasting clothing with little pattern.
  • Add a light in front of you instead of behind you. Your face and background will be crisp and clear. However, if you can use lighting from multiple points in the room, you will look even better.
  • Find a quiet place to record where you and your audience won't be distracted.
  • Schedule time to practice and film multiple times.
  • Speak as you do in class—engaged, with enthusiasm for the subject.
  • Add visual aids whenever possible.

Suggested reading

Building Community in Your Online Course - Introduction Video

Introduction Video: Why Your Online Course Needs One


1Abramovich, Giselle. "15 Stats Brands Should Know About Online Video - Digiday." Digiday. N.p., 3 Apr. 2013. Web. 05 May 2014.