Engaging Instructional Video Ideas For Amazing Online Courses

Apr 29, 2020eLearning tips, instructional design tips, video-based learning0 comments

Thanks to the wonders of e-learning, we are witnessing a steady increase in the number of online courses that satisfy students’ needs no matter where they are. The predominant format of online classes is instructional videos, and it’s totally understandable. From the learners’ viewpoint, instructional videos allow them to easily access new information at their convenience. And since this method is widely used, your instructional videos have to be as engaging as possible to be considered a “good” class to be raved about. 

So the question goes, how can you make your online lectures captivating? Let’s dive in, shall we?


6 ways to improve your instructional videos

💡Act like you’re in a real classroom

The problem with online classes is the lack of interaction between you and your students. One key element of effective communication is making eye contact, so do it. Look straight into the webcam while you talk. Even if you’re just monologuing, at least you can reaffirm to your audience that you’re talking to them. 

Don’t forget to interact with them, talk to them while you are lecturing, remind them to take notes, and if they’re making too much noise, order silence. 

And please keep in mind that you’re the main subject of your instructional videos, not what you write. So try not to abuse on-screen text, provide just enough visual aids to make your video interesting, but not so much that it becomes distracting. Remember, you’re filming a video, not writing a book!

💡Word choices

While we’re on the topic of words, keep your language simple. It’s highly recommended that you use words simple enough that even middle school students can understand the gist of your lecture. Talk like how you would in daily conversations with your family and friends, and your students will appreciate listening to an actual human being instead of an ingenious mastermind. 

And do try to appear friendly, lift the tension! Humans tend to learn better when they’re relaxed, so strive for a homely atmosphere, and the learning experience will be much more effective and enjoyable.

Last but not least, speak slowly and clearly. This is even more important if you happen to have a thick accent. 

💡Sense of humor

Inject a joke here and there into your instructional videos. When learning is fun, information is absorbed effortlessly, and don’t you want your students to do so? Humor stimulates memorizing and increases the information retention rate considerably.
Sometimes opportunities for humor come unexpectedly too – when something goes wrong. Technical problems, for example, happen all the time in both real life and online, and when you make a mistake, do you want to be a wet blanket who complains non-stop about it, or are you going to laugh it off? It feels odd to say this, but laughing about your mistakes actually humanizes you. After all, you’re only human.

💡Break down your content

We’re living in a world of social media where Snapchat and Instagram stories last for 10 seconds. Needless to say, our attention span has shortened remarkably. If you’re not careful, you just might find your students chasing butterflies in the middle of your lecture.

What you need to do is to dissect your instructional videos into smaller parts/chapters/units, etc. And then, list all the key learning points, headings, and notes. This will help your students navigate around the lessons easily and ease the learning process.

Breaking down your lessons makes them much more memorable, while also preventing your students from breaking down themselves.

💡Tell stories

Storytelling has been one of the most popular methods of storing and spreading information ever since the dawn of mankind. We grew up with stories and our cultures are built on fiction. So, why say no to stories? 

Storytelling is a teaching method that creates vivid images of the audience’s memories. So surely, your students will also appreciate and benefit from this tactic when you incorporate it into your instructional videos. Sprinkle some anecdotes, recite some allegories, reference some movies – and don’t forget to do a good job at it, convey the proper storylines, emotions, etc – and voilà, you’ll have your students on the edge of their online seats.

💡Engage your students

In case your content just isn’t captivating enough and your students slowly drift away into their daydreaming, you’ll need to reel them back to shore. In order to do this, you have to engage your students in your instructional videos. 

  • Ask questions.

    Difficult concepts take time to digest. And if there isn’t immediate encouragement or supervision, it’s very easy for a student to zone out. That’s why when the instructor makes them think hard over a matter, they finally snap out of their stupor.
    As a result, instead of sitting passively, the students are prompted to do demanding tasks like discussing, working on small tasks, finding answers to your questions, etc. Raising questions in your instructional videos is a great tactic to capture your students’ attention. 



  • Inquire feedback

    To be able to give feedback on the lesson, a student has to actually listen to it and think about it. Giving feedback stimulates critical thinking and increases focus, putting the students in an attentive state
    At the end of each lesson, encourage your students to comment on your performance, either by asking you questions or giving you criticisms. And guess what, this is the perfect opportunity for you to get original ideas on how to improve your instructional videos. 

Read further:
» Amazing advantages of storytelling method in corporate training

Effective Designs for Instructional Video


Graphics have long been one of the most effective and convenient tools for instructional videos. But it’s only effective when you don’t abuse it as I mentioned before. Badly presented graphics (unclear, irrelevant, excessive, out of sync with the audio, etc.) only cause distractions.

My advice is to stick to the basics, keep the graphics minimal. Graphics is a tool to complement your voice only.


illustration: Unsplash

Read further:
» Pros and Cons of Animated Educational Videos in eLearning
» Free eBook: Ultimate Guide to Create an Awesome Educational Animation for Online Courses


The animation is like a higher level of graphics. There’s no better method than using animation to simplify even the most convoluted technical notions and stir up the mood among the audience. It makes the instructional video more visually satisfying and stimulating, rendering the learning experience a lot more enjoyable. 

[Infographic] animation based learning

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Read further:
» 7 Tips for Outstanding Visual Communication in eLearning



Instructional videos are way more effective in teaching than boring textbooks with a bunch of jargon. If you implement the right tools, your online course will be a whole lot more engaging.

We hope that our tips can help better your instructional videos in the process of building amazing online courses. Thank you for reading!


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