9 Steps to a Successful Video Assignment

You wouldn’t assign a lab report without having written one, so why assign a video without having created one? How would you go about answering students’ questions? How would you advise on structure, content, format, and citing? How would you know what expectations are reasonable, how much time to allot, what resources to recommend, your criteria for grading?

iMovie window with video and audio content

I get a lot of questions from instructors who want to assign a video project, sometimes even making it an option in lieu of a final exam or paper. Often, the instructor has never made his own video, let alone one with the requirements he’s asking for. If that’s you, I’m not saying you can’t be successful; it’ll just take some thoughtful preparation on your part to create an environment that provides your students with technical support, clear expectations, and fair grading.

Be the Student
Go through all the steps you are expecting of your students so you can lay down a solid structure of support and provide reasonable criteria students must meet to get a good grade. Ask the questions you think they’ll ask. Go to the labs you think they’ll go. Call the support staff you think they’ll call. Google the tutorials you think they’ll Google!  Don’t just outsource all the assistance to others. Be the expert! It’s empowering to be able to answer your students questions; in fact, they expect that you can.

Specify the Tools
Now let’s talk about narrowing down options, because there is such a thing as too many. You might think you are doing students a favor by letting them loose to use any device and video editor under the sun, but take a step back to understand what that means for your class as a whole. You can’t possibly answer all the questions about every device and software, and neither can the pros! However, if a majority of students are using the same resources, they’ll be able to help each other rather than overloading you or any other support staff with the more common questions. Plan out exactly which software, hardware, format, locations, etc. you want students to use every step of the way. This narrows down the list of things you (and your students) need to master to achieve the outcome you desire. I’m not saying you should restrict students to following the plan that you’ve laid out. A student can use whatever program she wants, knowing that it’s still her responsibility to make sure that her method will produce the result that meets your assignment’s requirements.

Post Info Online
Here’s a list of things an OSU instructor can provide for her students to ensure smooth sailing throughout a video project. I can’t emphasize enough that this information needs to be posted online for students to reference throughout the project; organize it on Carmen in a way that makes sense for your class structure and lesson plan. For example, here are 9 points I would communicate to my students:

  1. Understand the information and resources available in Making a Video
  2. Use iMovie ’11, and watch all necessary tutorials on Apple’s iMovie support website. Students may choose a different editor if you prefer, in which case you are responsible for finding your own support.
  3. Labs that have iMovie ’11 and staff to help are: SH 145, HH 171a, and HS 460a.
  4. Students may borrow a video camera from Classroom Services or be responsible for understanding how to use their own video recording device.
  5. Final video must contain: opening/closing credits, voiceover, background music, photos, video footage (*edit this list to be as specific as you want; these are the elements you are grading on)
  6. Final video must be between 2-4 minutes long (*I recommend 5 minutes max).
  7. Specify what format of video you would like to receive (*I recommend mp4).
  8. Specify how you want the video to be submitted (*I recommend physical CD, box.osu.edu, or Media Upload tool).
  9. Teach students about copyright and fair use OR specify the use of original content only.
Don’t see what you need? Email digitalunion@osu.edu. We’re happy to provide more specific advice regarding your own class; just ask!