Teaching Commons > Teaching Guides > Technology > Course Videos

Course Videos


Whether you want to “flip” your on-campus course or teach online, course videos are a common way to provide valuable information to your students. For example, you may wish to record course videos in order to:​

  • Welcome students to your course
  • Introduce yourself and your background and interests
  • Offer explanations or lectures on key topics
  • Discuss examples of work and problem solving
  • Demonstrate how something works

Regardless of your exact purpose, the following tips will help you prepare, shoot, and edit your course videos.

This guide contains the following sections: 

Recording Tools and Equipment

Recording Devices

Recording on a computer allows you to more easily record your screen and upload to Panopto. Recording on a smartphone or tablet can give you more flexibility to record from other locations and works best for videos where you can convey information by speaking to the camera or pointing the camera at key content.  


  • Panopto is a tool that allows people to record, host, and share audio and video files. It is fully integrated with D2L, and both instructors and students have full access to Panopto. Panopto offers simple editing tools that you can use from your browser.
  • Zoom can be used to record yourself or your class. You can save to the cloud or to your device, but cloud recordings are limited to a 120-day storage period. Remember to download and save any videos recorded to the cloud that you’d like to keep beyond that period. 
  • The camera app on your smartphone or tablet allows you to record and upload videos on your device, which you can later upload to Panopto. Note that it may be more difficult to share your screen using this approach.


  • If your computer does not have an integrated camera, consider purchasing an external webcam. Better webcams have full HD video (1080p at 30 fps) and integrated microphones, such as the Logitech C920S
  • If you need to demonstrate solutions using a pen and paper or present a 3D object, such as a book or other artifact, consider purchasing a document camera, such as the Okiolabs Okiocam T


If your computer (or webcam) does not have an integrated microphone, consider purchasing an external microphone or audio headphones with a built-in microphone, such as the Logitech H390

Drawing Tablets

For annotating slides or drawing on a virtual whiteboard, consider purchasing a drawing tablet such as the Wacom Intuos Drawing Tablet.


If you are working in a dim lighting environment, consider adding more light by purchasing a ring light.

Recording Spaces

  • Try to avoid recording yourself with a bright light source behind you, such as windows and doors, which can cause a silhouette effect.
  • Improve lighting by placing a light source in front of you. 
  • Minimize potential background noises and distraction.
  • Avoid wearing distracting patterns; solid colors often work best. Don’t wear green if you’re using a green screen.


Keep it short.

It’s easier to produce shorter videos (less time for potential mistakes), and it’s easier for students to watch shorter videos (less time to get distracted). In a widely cited study, researchers looking at student engagement on the edX MOOC platform found the median engagement time for videos to be about six minutes. Segmenting shorter videos has been found to help aid recall and application.

Use an outline and, if needed, a script.

Outlines can help you organize your thoughts. What topics do you want to cover in your video? Which points do you want to emphasize? If needed, develop a script that follows your outline and specifies what you will say in greater detail.

Look into the camera.

When you look into the camera, it will appear on video that you’re speaking to your students directly. Doing so can help keep students engaged. Remember to take breaks from reading your outline or script by looking into the camera occasionally

Minimize on-screen distractions.

If you’re recording your screen, be sure to turn off any distracting notifications, and be mindful that the contents of the screen will be visible in your videos. This may be a good excuse to clean up your desktop or organize your bookmarks!

Creating Engaging Videos

There are lower-tech and higher-tech ways to make your videos more engaging.

Lower-tech methods for engagement

  • Describe how the video(s) relate to other learning materials in the course. Be explicit about how students can use the videos to meet course learning outcomes.
  • Encourage students to rewatch videos as needed in order to master subject material. 
  • Ask students to pause the video and work on a question or problem that you’ve given them. Then return to the question or problem after a brief pause so students can check their understanding.

Higher-tech methods for engagement

  • Make your videos interactive by adding quizzes to Panopto videos. You can even assign these quizzes grades that can automatically be added to the gradebook in D2L.
  • Give students incomplete outlines to fill out. Instruct them to add details to the outline with information or examples that you provide in the videos. Have students submit their completed outlines in D2L for a small grade.
  • Create discussion forums for students to ask questions and respond to one another based on your video lectures. Facilitate discussions as a means of engaging students in higher order thinking.


In order to optimize accessibility for people with auditory disabilities, web multimedia should include both captions and a transcript, according to WebAIM, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to expanding web accessibility since 1999.

Captions are not only essential for people who are deaf or have difficulty hearing, but also aid people who:

  • Are in silent or loud environments
  • Are less fluent in the language spoken
  • Prefer reading text

Learn how to add captions to videos in Panopto.

Transcripts not only helps users who are deaf or have difficult hearing but also aid people who:

  • Have difficulty comprehending auditory or visual information
  • Have a limited internet connection and cannot stream audio/video
  • Have a need to skim and search a textual record of the recording, in preparation for an exam or while writing a paper 

Learn how to generate transcripts in Panopto. You can also view Panopoto’s accessibility features.

Permissions and Sharing Settings

Use the following recommendations to help set expectations for how the videos in your course should be used by students:

  • Add a statement to your syllabus that indicates students should not share the course videos outside of the class. 
  • Have a conversation with students early in the quarter about the value you see in the video content you’re providing to them (e.g., the ability to re-watch difficult points in a lecture or catch a point they missed during discussion). If your course videos will include recordings of class sessions, you might facilitate this conversation while you set expectations for participation in discussions
  • If a student is found to have misused course content, it is a violation of the Code of Student Responsibility. The Dean of Students would help intervene. 

The following settings will help you to control how the videos in your course are shared.

  • Use Panopto to ensure your video content is easy for students to view and access. You can record your videos in Panopto or upload videos recorded with other applications (e.g., Zoom or an app on your phone) to Panopto. Then, insert the videos in your D2L course

  • By default, students are not able to download videos that are embedded via Panopto; however, you can enable downloads in the settings.

  • Flex (Bimodal) courses are automatically recorded and that recording is sent to a hidden module in your D2L course titled “Lecture Capture.” 

  • The recordings are hosted in Panopto, and the instructor chooses if the module or individual recordings will be available to students. The recordings can be edited prior to sharing. 

  • These videos are automatically deleted at the end of the quarter or term.