Creating Video for Enhancing Instructor Presence and Learner Engagement in Online Environments

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Integrating video in online courses has increasingly become a medium of choice among faculty as a mechanism for creating instructor presence and engaging learners.  In this session, attendees will explore three elements to effective use of video: how to manage cognitive load, establishing instructor presence, and increasing student engagement.

Sponsored By


Dr. Solis is a Senior Academic Consultant - Instructional Designer at Baylor University. He is also an occasional online adjunct instructor teaching undergraduate and graduate-level courses in instructional technology/design and introductory computing concepts. An accomplished educator in higher education and instructional designer practitioner, Dr. Solis focuses on the teaching and learning side of instructional technology in higher education, with an emphasis on instructional design for online learning, effective technology integration to support curriculum, engaging the adult learner (andragogy), and faculty professional development.

Extended Abstract

Over the last 5 years, higher education faculty have increasingly shown interest in and used video to enhance instruction.  This medium is integrated into traditional face-to-face courses, a component to many blended courses, and often a primary content-delivery mechanism for fully online courses.  Meta-analyses have shown technology can enhance learning (Means et al., 2010; Schmid et al., 2014), and multiple studies have shown video can be a highly effective tool (Allen and Smith, 2012; Kay, 2012; Stockwell et al., 2015).  Furthermore, research has shown video to assist with establishing a strong instructor presence by decreasing attrition (Creasman, 2012) and increase learner engagement (Kolowich, 2010) in online learning environments.  Examples of effective use of video in online courses include, but not limited to, instructor introductory and module/unit overviews, student-created videos for enhancing online discussion boards, and video feedback on course projects and other assessments.


Despite the value added, video may not be inherently effective.  Guo et al. (2014) have indicated some learners often disregard lengthy video segments, while MacHardy and Pardos (2015) have illustrated that some videos contribute little to student performance.  What, then, are the video design elements that allows online instructors to enhance instructor presence and learner engagement while moving students toward desired learning outcomes?  The following design elements discussed in this discovery session will provide a foundation for developing and using video effectively in online courses:

  • Managing cognitive load by segmenting and weeding
  • Designing for instructor presence
  • Increasing student engagement


Managing Cognitive Load by Segmenting and Weeding
Cognitive load theory (CLT), according to Sweller (1994, 2003), explains that visual and verbal information are processed under the constraint of limited working memory capacity.  For learners, receiving too much information can lead to extraneous mental effort that can negatively impact how this information integrates into one’s existing knowledge structures.  Segmenting, or chunking, video content allows learners to engage with smaller bits of new information and gives them control over the flow of this new information (Brame, 2016).  Weeding is another method for eliminating extraneous information for video recorded content that does not contribute to the learning goal.  Common questions from faculty such as “how long should my video lectures be?” and “how do I eliminate extra information, or fluff, in my recordings without losing sight of the learning outcome?” will be discussed in discovery session.


Designing for Instructor Presence
Lehman and Conseição (2010) explain that “instructor presence is a sense of ‘being there’ and ‘being together’ with online learners throughout the learning experience.  It looks and feels as if the instructor is accessible to the learners and that learners are accessible to the instructor and each other, and that the technology is transparent to the learning process.”  Video can be an effective medium for creating this sense of instructor presence and enhance online learning community.  Some of the methods discussed in this discovery session include having an instructor-created video that provides some personal information to give learners a sense of who they are and their background, use of student-create video to enhance online discussion boards, and using a learning management system’s video commenting feature to provide constructive feedback to students’ assignments, projects, or other forms of assessment.  Additional course design suggestions and methods will be discussed.


Increasing Student Engagement
Some perceive student engagement as increased audio-visual communication on the part of the instructor.  According to Kolowich (2010), “The more that exchanges occurring within an online learning environment resemble those that occur in classrooms…the more that students will feel connected to their professors and classmates, and the more likely they will be to say in a program.”  However, mimicking the face-to-face communications and interactions is not realistic in most online courses, especially for asynchronous activities.  Instead, it is important to remember that students feel more connected when the instructor demonstrates an active teaching presence, which can take many forms including effective use of video content.  Some methods include having an icebreaker activity where students create a short introductory video about themselves, design course activities or assignments that encourage students to create and share video content, and post instructor-created screencasts or video responses to a Q&A forum that explains complex concepts students may be struggling with for an assignment or course project.  Additional suggestions and ideas to increase student engagement will be discussed.



  • Allen, W. A. & Smith, A.R. (2012). Effects of video podcasting on psychomotor and cognitive performance, attitudes and study behavior of student physical therapists. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 49(4), pp. 401-414.
  • Brame, C. J. (2016). Effective educational videos: Principles and guidelines for maximizing student learning from video content. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 15(4). Retrieved from
  • Creasman, P. A. (2012). Considerations in online course design. IDEA Paper No. 52. Retrieved April, 3, 2018, from
  • Guo, P., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014, March). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. Paper presented at the L@S ’14: ACM Learning @ Scale Conference.  Retrieved from
  • Kay, R. H. (2012). Exploring the use of video podcasts in education: A comprehensive review of the literature. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(2), pp. 820-831.
  • Kolowich, S. (2010). The human element. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved April 25, 2018, from
  • Lehman, R. M. & Conseição, S. C. O. (2010). Creating a Sense of Presence in Online Teaching. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
  • MacHardy, Z. & Pardos, Z. A. (2015, 26-29 June). Evaluating the relevance of educational videos using BKT and big data.  Paper presented at the 8th International Conference on Education Data Mining: Madrid, Spain.  Retrieved from
  • Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2010). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, Washington, DC: US Department of Education.  Retrieved from:
  • Schmid, R. F., Bernard, R. M., Borokhovski, E., Tamim, R. M., Abrami, P. C., Surkes, M. A., Wade, C. A., & Woods, J. (2014, March). The effects of technology use in postsecondary education: A meta-analysis of classroom applications. Computers & Education, 72, pp. 271-291.
  • Stockwell, B. R., Stockwell, M. S., Cennamo, M., & Jiang, E. (2015). Blended learning improves science education. Cell Press, 162(5), pp. 933-936.
  • Sweller, J. (1994). Cognitive load theory, learning difficulty, and instructional design. Learning and Instruction, 4(1994), pp. 295-312.
  • Sweller, J. (2003). Evolution of human cognitive architecture. B. Ross (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation, Vol. 43, Academic Press, San Diego, CA.



  • Attendees will identify effective strategies that assist with managing cognitive load of video content used in online courses.
  • Attendees will identify and discuss instructional strategies that enhance instructor presence in online learning environments.
  • Attendees will describe instructional activities that use video to increase student engagement with course content.


Effective Practice Criteria

  • Innovation:  This discovery session will introduce current and new strategies for using video effectively in online learning environments by managing cognitive load of video content, enhancing instructor presence with video, and increase student engagement with student-created video content.
  • Replicability:  All techniques and strategies presented in this session can be effectively and efficiently implemented at other universities for any online, blended, and face-to-face learning environment.
  • Impact:  The strategies and techniques presented in this session, along with additional ideas attendees identify, can assist with using video effectively in online courses.  These strategies and techniques can easily be adapted at other institutions.
  • Supporting Evidence:  The presenter will provide a list of peer-reviewed sources that support the strategies discussed in this interactive discovery session.  Sample videos created by Baylor online faculty will also be highlighted.
  • Scope:  All techniques and strategies discussed will be applicable to all learning environments.



  • A laptop will be used to show examples of instructor-created video content using Kaltura, a third-party video creation/management solution that is integrated with Baylor University’s instance of the Canvas learning management system. 
  • A handout will be provided listing best practices for using video in online learning environment and peer-reviewed research citations supporting these suggestions.


Target Audience

  • Higher Education faculty, instructional designers, instructional technologists, and administrators will benefit from this discovery session.
  • All experience levels may benefit from this session.


Audience Active Engagement

  • Attendees will have an opportunity to watch segments and provide feedback of faculty-created video content used to establish instructor presence and engage students.
  • Participants will be asked to share their experiences, suggestions, and challenges with using video content in online learning environments.