At a Glance

In this guide for faculty and staff, you’ll learn how to record an instructional video in the MIT Sloan Teaching Studio. An instructional video is any video that an instructor creates for students in their course. Here are a few highlights:

  1. Make your instructional video less than six minutes long.
  2. Create slides using a Teaching Studio slides template.
  3. Review our Choose Your Outfit page to pick clothes that will look great on camera.

Request a Consultation

To reserve the Teaching Studio, request a consultation with a member of the Teaching & Learning Technologies team. We’ll contact you to learn more and schedule your studio session.

  • Submit your consultation request form at least ten business days before the studio session date.
  • When you fill out the form, select Teaching Studio from the first dropdown menu.
  • If this is your first time using the studio and it is available, we’ll confirm your booking after you complete the required studio orientation and (for some projects) a studio consultation.
  • Some projects may be eligible for instructional design support including presentation design guidance and video script reviews.
  • All Teaching Studio projects must be closely related to teaching and learning at MIT Sloan.
  • Scheduling is contingent on both the studio’s and the Teaching & Learning Technologies team’s availability. Studio reservations are on a first-come, first-serve basis with a preference for requests related to teaching and learning.
Request a Consultation

Create Your Slides

1. Download a Studio Slides Template

We designed these slide templates to adhere to Teaching Studio best practices and MIT Sloan brand guidelines. If you’re considering using a different design or format, please consult with our team for guidance.

Projector Scene Slides Template

Person icon on the right side and a presentation in the top left

In the Projector Scene, your slides appear in a window next to you. This setup looks like a classic presentation. We designed the Projector Scene Slides Template with an empty “buffer” space on the right 20% of most slides so you don’t have to worry about blocking any essential information during your presentation. Learn more about the studio scenes.

Download the Projector Scene Slides Template

Full Screen Scene Slides Template

Outline of a person in front of a slide that takes up the entire background behind them.

In the Full Screen Scene, your slides fill the entire backdrop behind you. This setup looks more like a typical video with content appearing around and alongside you during your presentation. We designed the Full Screen Scene Slides Template with an empty “buffer” space on the right 40% of most slides so you don’t have to worry about blocking any essential information during your presentation. Learn more about the studio scenes.

Download the Full Screen Scene Slides Template

2. Customize Your Slides

Once you’ve downloaded the template of your choice, you can customize it to fit your content. While the design and layout adhere to MIT Sloan’s brand standards, there’s ample room for personalization. Add your images, text, and other visuals to make the slides uniquely yours.

Prioritize Visual Content

In Multimedia Learning, Richard Mayer’s rigorously researched, evidence-based guide to multimedia instruction, the Multimedia Principle states that “People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone” (as quoted in Davis & Norman, 2016). You can optimize your video for this principle by doing the following:

  • Include images to illustrate key points.
  • Ensure that all images enhance or clarify meaning rather than being purely decorative.
  • Use simple graphs, charts, and infographics to convey data or complex ideas in a visually engaging and understandable manner.

Balance is key: the visuals should support and enhance your spoken words, not overshadow them.

Keep It Simple

Less is more when it comes to designing slides for studio presentations. As Mayer describes in Multimedia Learning, learners benefit most from streamlined content free of extraneous material (as cited in Davis & Norman, 2016). Aim for a minimalist design that helps your audience concentrate on the key takeaways.

  • Use a clean layout: Keep your slides uncluttered with ample white space to highlight the essential points.
  • Be concise with text: Limit the text to key phrases or bullet points, and maintain a large font size (at least 18pt) for easy readability.
  • Align written and spoken text: Where possible, make sure the text on your slide exactly mirrors phrases you’ll verbalize. This helps your slides support rather than compete against your verbal presentation.

Write Your Script

Crafting an effective instructional video requires careful planning, clear content selection, and thoughtful execution. This guide walks through the essential tips to create an engaging and informative script for your video.

Tip: Use our optional Teaching Studio Script Template to format your script so it’s easy to read in the studio teleprompter.

  1. Focus on one topic. Pick one key topic, learning outcome, or goal. Then identify the most essential content to include. These kinds of content tend to work well in videos:
    • algorithmic content like how to solve for an equation;
    • clear visual aids like maps or diagrams;
    • examples and anecdotes that illustrate ideas or emphasize important points;
    • and complicated concepts that students might want to review multiple times.
  2. Keep it short and simple. Instructional videos usually work best if they’re less than six minutes long (Guo et al., 2014). You can think of a video as a highlight reel or a quick dive into an important topic. Also, extraneous information can actually distract from learning (Ibrahim 2012). Stick to the essentials so students know where to focus their attention.
  3. Start with a hook and wrap up with a summary. Capture your audience’s attention from the get-go. Consider starting with a big question or an interesting real-world example. Then, after your audience has journeyed with you through the content, help consolidate their learning by providing a quick recap of the topics you’ve covered.
  4. Consider designing supporting activities. You can create activities that help students process the information in the video (Brames 2015). For example, you can
    • invite them to think about specific guiding questions while they watch;
    • ask them to submit a quiz after they watch;
    • make the video part of a flipped classroom experience. In that case, you’ll replace your usual in-class lecture with this new video and pre-class knowledge checks. Then you’ll dedicate that freed up class time to active learning opportunities.
  5. Make your video part of a balanced homework diet. Students are more likely to watch one video than five before a single class session. They may also be more interested in a new video if they’re not already balancing a heavy homework load.

Choose Your Outfit

Review our Choose Your Outfit page to learn how to pick clothes that will look great on camera.

Practice Your Presentation

Practice your presentation at home and during your studio orientation. This way you can confirm the length of your presentation, get a sense of what works, and spot any desired revisions. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Smile and be energetic.
  • Remember to enunciate.
  • Use your normal speaking voice and volume.
  • Feel free to use hand gestures if they feel natural.
  • Use good posture and open body language.
  • Look directly at the camera lens as often as possible.
  • Pretend you’re talking to a friend who’s behind the camera.

The key to a successful presentation lies in thorough preparation and genuine engagement with your audience. By following these guidelines, you can convey your content effectively and also create a memorable learning experience for your viewers.

Attend Your Studio Session

On the day of your studio session, a technician will let you into the studio. They will make sure the technology is working properly. When you’re ready to start your presentation, the technician will leave the room. They will stay nearby in case you need support during the session. When you arrive, make sure to put your phone on silent and mute notifications on your laptop or iPad. During the session, try to pace yourself. Keep your energy up by drinking water, eating a snack, or going for a quick walk outside.

Share Your Video

When you’re finished editing, you can share your video with students using Panopto and Canvas:

  1. Embed your video in a Canvas Announcement, Assignment, Discussion, Page, or Quiz.
  2. Add the video course content to a Canvas module.

Tip: Make your Canvas site easy to navigate (for example, by following MIT Sloan School’s Gold Standard Canvas Course guidelines) so students know exactly where to go to watch the new video.

References

Brame, C. (2015). Effective educational videos. Vanderbilt University. http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/effective-educational-videos/

Davis, G., & Norman, M. (2016). Principles of multimedia learning. Wiley University Services. https://ctl.wiley.com/principles-of-multimedia-learning/  

Guo, P. J., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. ACM Conference on Learning at Scale. http://groups.csail.mit.edu/uid/other-pubs/las2014-pguo-engagement.pdf

Ibrahim, M., Antonenko, P. D., Greenwood, C., & Wheeler, D. L. (2012). Effects of segmenting, signalling, and weeding on learning from educational video. Learning, Media and Technology, 37(3), 220–235. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439884.2011.585993

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