Designing Effective Video-Based Teaching Activities

Characteristics of a strong assignment/activity:

To see examples of effective video-based teaching activities, please also review our collections.

We asked participants at the Spring 2014 virtual workshop on Designing and Using Video in Undergraduate Geoscience Education to list those characteristics that define a strong teaching activity. They agree that a strong activity/assignment:

  • is engaging
  • has clear learning goals and objectives
  • includes active learning
  • gets students thinking about how they are learning
  • has students make observations, formulate questions and multiple hypotheses, and research and test their ideas
  • identifies and addresses potential misconceptions
  • covers a specific topic
  • starts simply and gets progressively more challenging
  • presents ideas in multiple ways
  • provides a clear grading rubric
  • applies multiple assessment tools

Strategies for developing new activities

The following checklist/summary is taken almost exclusively from e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for the consumers and designers of multimedia learning, by Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer, 3rd edition (2011). Most of the notes are direct quotes/excerpts.

Getting started

Creating a video-centered activity does not have to be difficult. Here are some suggestions for places to begin:

  • Individual assignments where students have to view a video and then:
    • Answer a series of directed questions (multiple choice, short-answer, free form)
    • Write a summary
    • Write a list of questions
    • Write a list of observations
    • Discuss the above work in groups
    • Example: Pinatubo Volcano Video Worksheet for use with the NOVA Video In the Path of a Killer Volcano
  • Classroom response questions (iClickers or video-embedded quizzes) to check understanding mid video
  • Written assessments for all animations (as used by Pearson -- MasteringOceanography)
  • Group projects, where students have to discuss the implication of what they have seen and make predictions as to the outcome of different scenarios.

Activity templates

Scott Brande developed this template (right) to connect increasingly higher order thinking skills with particular videos. This allows a single video to be used at multiple stages in a student's educational journey. An empty template with three video examples is available here as a downloadable Microsoft Excel spreadsheet:


  • BOOK: e-Learning and the Science of Instruction -- Proven Guidelines for the consumers and designers of multimedia learning -- Ruth Colvin Clark and Richard E. Mayer -- 3rd edition (2011)
  • TedEd -- Developing and deploying activity sheets/questions around particular video content
  • Bloom's Taxonomy
  • Learning Objectives and References
Original content for this page was contributed by: Scott Brande, Alan Whittington, and Katryn Wiese during the Spring 2014 virtual workshop on Designing and Using Video in Undergraduate Geoscience Education. Our growing community of contributors continues to add to these resources. Get involved »