10 Great Instructional Videos and What You can Learn from Them

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An instructional video is recorded content that provides detailed information on how to meet a specific challenge. It features an expert on the particular topic who describes or demonstrates the relevant information to resolve an issue or achieve an outcome, often with real-life applications. In learning environments, instructional videos are used as the primary mode of content delivery or to enhance or clarify course content.

These eLearning videos are used in a variety of settings, including college and university courses, and corporate training and skills development. Informational videos also inform the general public on search-specific topics and are a vital element in e-commerce marketing because they are viewed by nearly 70% of site visitors[1]. Video conferencing software and other delivery methods often used to share all types of instructional videos.

Types of Instruction Videos

Over 53% of college students[2] watched instructional videos as a part of their coursework in 2016, and this number is on the rise. Within a higher educational learning environment, eLearning videos are used in four specific ways[3]:

  1. Course introduction or welcome. This type of video introduces the course and the instructor, as well as review the syllabus, instructor expectations, grading, and other relevant information. It can be shown during the first class of the session or be made available for viewing before the start of class, so valuable instruction time can focus on course topics.
  2. Video Modeling. Here the presenter displays the skills that the learner can later model to improve performance. Video Modeling is often used to develop soft skills, such as leadership, delivering criticism, appropriate marketing, and sales techniques, among others.
  3. Mini-Lectures. When instruction time does not allow specific details of a topic to be presented, then sharing information is through the use of mini-lectures. Mini-lectures enable the instructor to delve deeper into a subject, and for the students to gain greater understanding.
  4. Tutorials. These provide a step-by-step process to learn a specific skill or technique. They can be stand-alone demonstrations or a series of videos on a broader topic. These are often used in chemistry, engineering, arts, medical, and other programs.

Qualities of a Great Instructional Video

A quality eLearning video is short, between 6 and 15 minutes long[4]. The commentary is well organized and presented smoothly and without breaks or stumbles. The presenter has a great personality that shines above the content and brings people back for more. The more engaging the presenter, the more likely that viewers will watch the entire presentation.

The presentation itself is in a multi-media format that includes quality graphics and music. Demonstrations or simulations that break up the lecture content and improve engagement. Production values are high, with a clear picture, sound, and graphics. Technical issues are handled appropriately, including using a high-quality file compressor, to avoid frustrating viewers with slow-loading video.

In a compelling instruction video, each of these elements is of the highest quality and present the required information as concisely as possible.

10 Great Instructional Videos to Learn From

There are many examples of great instructional videos that demonstrate the engagement, creativity, appropriate use of graphics, tone, and delivery that you will want to emulate. We will review 10 of these, and discuss what features make them stand out from the crowd.

  1. Crash Course Introduction. This video is of a YouTube channel called Crash Course that provides a great instructional videos on history, science, and more, targeting middle and high school, students. This video is an excellent example of how to do a program overview. It shows brief screenshots of their classes that includes their beautiful graphics, it showcases both hosts and uses several backgrounds to keep the viewer engaged. It packs a big punch in 1 minute and 16 seconds.
  2. What Is AI? HubSpot created this 6-minute video to present the concept of artificial intelligence to those who do not understand what it is. The video is an excellent example of using a more extended format with superior graphics to explain a complicated concept. There are cultural references and every-day real-world examples of AI at work that makes the content relatable.
  3. The Art Assignment: Starry Night. The Art Assignment channel brings different artists and art concepts to life in mid-length videos. This piece runs just over 8 minutes long. Notice the smooth presenter’s voice and how it modulates to avoid monotony. The images continuously change, and the content shares information without talking down to the viewer.
  4. How to get Perfect In-Camera White Balance? This offering from Pixel Vision discusses a particular photography topic and covers it well in about 15 minutes. It includes details, a charming host, and is an excellent example of how to incorporate demonstrations into your presentation.
  5. The Debt Limit Explained is a video that explains a very complicated topic in under 4 minutes. Creative use of graphics and a humorous voiceover makes this piece fun to watch and the information quickly retained.
  6. How to Build an Awesome Reading Nook With Book Storage. This video is an outstanding example of using live action demonstrations with text overlays with screenshot instructions attached to it. You can hear and see how the process is done, but also have the dimensions and steps written out for later reference, making it a useful how-to video.
  7. Robins Financial Credit Union. All of the videos on this company’s page offer excellent examples of great graphics that tell a story. The overview of their online banking system is a perfect example of a tutorial, walking someone through the fundamental steps of the process that they can watch while performing the same tasks on their account.
  8. Inside A Glacier, How It Flows. The BBC created this science video which combines live-action shots with interviews and voice-over narrative to create an excellent learning tool. The combination of the onscreen person talking and the story creates a complete picture of the glacier and why the findings of the experiment were so significant.
  9. Jet Pack Rocket Science. This video is a series of demonstrations and presenter commentary that makes science understandable. The creative use of a green screen, on-screen graphics, a personable narrator and high production values, make this video a winner.
  10. The Dark Ages. This last video is near perfect. It is from Crash Course (the first video above) and includes a personable narrator, interactive elements, quality graphics, and humor. In 14 short minutes, it not only defines and explains the dark ages but puts it in perspective with other events of this period. Even if you are going for an older target audience member, this is a perfect model to follow.

Tips for Creating a Great eLearning Video

Now that you have viewed some great eLearning videos, here are specific tips to make yours shine:

  • Length. Short is better, usually between 6 and 15 minutes. If your video is long, use quizzes or other interactive components to keep students engaged.
  • Script. Develop a script of the content you will use in the video, but don’t read from your paper. Adlib a bit to keep things fresh and your audience engaged.
  • Setting. Remove clutter from anything that will be visible to the viewers, including your desk or background. Don’t sit or stand in front of a window to avoid glare.
  • Presenter. The presenter’s personality is one of the critical factors in the success of a video. Smile, let them see your intelligence and your sense of humor. If you are using voice over, modulate your tone to keep people awake.
  • Interactive Elements. Insert one or two question quizzes, ask for comments on specific issues, and maybe a short game, like identify this “thing,” to keep things interesting.
  • Graphics. If you are using graphics, make them eye-catching and animated. Use GIFs when appropriate to keep everyone engaged.
  • Demonstrations. Don’t be afraid to move around your space. When appropriate, give a small demonstration or model targeted behavior to provide a break in the lecture process.
  • Presentation. Use a webcam rather than a headset when you present to avoid the distraction. Place the webcam above your screen, so you are looking slightly up rather than down or to the side. Also, after you set everything up, you might want to tape a piece of paper over the screen, so you are not distracted by seeing yourself.

Informational videos are an excellent way to present primary or supplemental materials on a topic to support your course’s overall learning goals. When done well, they engage and teach the viewers and can be an integral component of your online course.


Ila Mishra

Content Specialist at WizIQ. 'Live to write and write to live' is her motto. Passionate about life and living it up!

2 thoughts on “10 Great Instructional Videos and What You can Learn from Them

  1. Thank you so much for your post. I’m getting ready to do my first one this week for an assignment and I needed your advice. Thanks for posting for novices like me!

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