Video Assignment Tips for Instructors and Students

Phil Henken
Phil Henken
Updated August 11 2021
student participating in hybrid teaching environment
Phil Henken
Phil Henken
Updated August 11 2021

We don’t need to point out to people that video-based online learning has exploded over the past year and a half. But as a video platform with a strong interest in and application for education, we do like to help people make the most of leading online learning techniques. Video assignments aren’t just for film and media studies students anymore; they’re expanding in use as part of the new ways instructors and students all can relate to one another both in standard classrooms and in an online learning paradigm.

This post will run down some basic concepts regarding the video assignment: what forms it can take, how to get the most out of the assignments, some ideas to try, and an introduction to Kaltura’s educational platform for those who are looking to step up to a high-quality online learning solution.


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Intro to Video Assignments and their Increasing Use

Video assignments can be thought of in different ways, but in this case, we’ll define a “video assignment” as “student projects that are fulfilled by creating informative video content.” As we pointed out in the introduction, this does not need to be making a narrative short film for Film & Video Production 101, it can also include highly personalized, even social-media-style video clips that address a problem, question, or topic that an instructor wants students to investigate. Video assignments can be research-intensive, collaborative, and highly engaging class activities that demonstrate a range of skills, knowledge, and communication strategy.


Obviously, with online learning’s recent (and often mandatory) expansion, the class infrastructure for creating and posting videos is also likely to be expanding for many educational organizations. Why not take advantage of it to get students’ creative juices flowing and find compelling ways to communicate relate, even over a physical distance?


video assignment


Tips for Instructors

Here are a few things that can be helpful to keep in mind when assigning video projects:


  • Keep it concise! Unless you’re a film program approving capstone projects, it’s good to keep video projects limited to around 2-5 minutes. If it’s high quality, even a 5-minute video can still take 5-10 hours (or more) to produce.


  • That said, give your students plenty of time to complete the project. This might be as much as a few weeks, depending on how labor-intensive the research, shooting, and/or production are likely to be.


  • Make sure students send you regular project updates. As an instructor, sometimes the best help you can offer is keeping the students on track.



Tips for Students

On the student side:


  • Always take advantage of whatever resources your school can offer! Frequently institutions have access to high-quality software, if not hardware, that can improve the quality of your project.


  • Planning is everything! While digital video has made it possible to shoot hours and hours of footage taking advantage of low-cost storage, you’ll still have to cut that down to a running time. Things may not always go exactly as planned, but preparation and efficiency will still always go a long way.


  • Remember that high-quality audio is important. If social media videos have taught us anything, it’s that mediocre-to-bad quality picture may be forgiven, but if your video is impossible to listen to, forget it.


video assignment


Video Assignments: 3 Examples and Ideas

Here are a few suggestions for different ways students can respond or inform using video content:


Recorded interviews

The staple of mainstream news media and documentaries, an interview could be in-person or virtual; intercut between interviewer and subject as a conversation or laser-focused on the interviewee’s answers. They could be serious, silly, or even fictional. The interview format is familiar to most people and is a direct way to get answers to questions that concern you.


Screencast recording

Think of it as “webinar style”. Present ideas and information step by step in slides, and record the presentation and your additional narration and commentary as it plays out. You can clean up any missteps with an editing tool and even rerecord your voiceover. It beats fumbling with a slide presentation in real-time!


Video tour or demonstration

Students who visit a place of interest to their coursework can use video to share it with the rest of the class, narrating as they go along. Video recording also makes it possible to further edit and annotate facts to make the experience as engaging as possible. Or similarly, a student could film a clip of demonstrating a process, solving a problem, or otherwise “showing, not telling” something relevant to coursework.


Video assignment


The Proper Way to do a Video Assignment

Not every classroom is AFI film school, so we won’t say there’s one “right” way to make a video or go on about the correct division of labor between production, post-production, talent, and crew positions. There are numerous scenarios for assignments and different approaches to video creation, and different things will work for different types of classes. However! … there are also still a few basic guidelines that can be followed to good effect in any video project:


Understand the purpose of and intended outcome for the video

In other words, “know what you want to say.” Especially in a short format, keep your video on message and make sure it will fit in the time allotted. You can still create a “script” without turning it into an exercise in formal filmmaking, and that will help clarify the information you want the video to deliver. You can even create a checklist of topics or questions that the assignment is expecting you to address.


Determine your format

This might be decided at the instructor level, but if not, it’s worth some thought. As we suggested above, there are different types of video assignments and different ways they might be tackled.


Have a camcorder? DSLR? Access to a digital cinema camera? That’s one way to do it. Got a great phone or tablet camera? That could work too. Screen recording? If you’re doing a PowerPoint-style presentation, that’s not a bad way to go. Webcam talking head video? Thousands of YouTubers can’t be wrong. The thing is to figure out what will work best for your content, as well as be available to you and uncomplicated enough for you to manage within your deadlines. Depending on the resources available that could be anything from a “Hollywood style” high-production value narrative short to a documentary voiceover captured cleverly via smartphone, so long as it fulfills the criteria of your assignment. Make sure it’s clear what kind of deliverable is expected at the deadline (i.e., “mp4 video posted to our learning portal” or whatever applies).


Set a production timeline, and stick to it

This probably goes for every project, ever. If needed you can also create team documents, shot lists, and more, but create a realistic timeline and get moving, the sooner the better. As discussed below, build in a little space for yourself to make changes or correct mishaps.


Schedule regular team meetings (when applicable)

This also relates to your timeline, but in general, you want to make sure the entire team is engaged and on top of their tasks. While it’s a little less complicated if you only have 2 or 3 team members who are handling the shoot or recording together (and, as the headline suggests, a non-issue if you’re creating and executing the entire project yourself) but if you have teammates who are going to do the majority of their work away from the video shooting/recording like graphic artists, animators, dedicated video editors, or musical composers (note: you don’t have to hire Hans Zimmer, “composing” could be as simple as making a couple of keyboard tracks in GarageBand) then you want to check in and make sure everything is on track.


Reserve some time for finishing and polishing

You might or might not be ingesting your video into professional-grade editing software but remember that you may still want to tweak your content, add titles or effects or voiceover, and do other “postproduction” tasks. Don’t back yourself into a corner where you end up having to do everything the night before the assignment deadline: take a tip from the pros and allocate yourself some time after your initial shoot (for instance several hours over the course of a few days) to review, edit, and do finishing tasks (like rendering, transcoding, or uploading) for your video.


Video assignment


Meet Kaltura Virtual Classroom Platform

When you’re delving into video-based learning, we think the “best in class” option (sorry for the pun) is our Kaltura Virtual Classroom platform. It provides online learning solutions for the modern classroom, designed and tested for 21st Century virtual learning. Our virtual classroom is built for engagement, and to emulate the ease of communication and info sharing of being together in the same room–for when being physically together may not be your best option.


For ease of use, our tools are browser-based and there’s no installation (on the user side) needed. Whether your focus is online learning, enhanced instruction for a hybrid classroom, virtual office hours, or collaborative learning in a study group there’s something to help you upgrade the experience. We offer top-tier interactive features including HD video playback, collaborative whiteboards, and shared content playlists for video, presentation, files, and more.


For instructors who favor the video assignment, cloud recording and editing tools are available to polish and repurpose your content for maximized engagement. For students, Kaltura also allows you to easily record your computer screen, webcam, and microphone.


Our virtual classroom is also easily integrated into a learning management system (LMS) where students can access content to catch up or review. Video-on-demand libraries of instructor-recorded videos or publicly shared student video responses are also made easier with intelligent search features.

Kaltura Virtual Classroom French Datasheet

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