“In Our Own Words”: Creating Videos as Teaching and Learning Tools


Technology has enabled filmmakers to create ‘in-house’ videos, and post them online for the critical mass of viewers who regularly consume videos online – mostly for entertainment, but increasingly for education and learning. In academic settings, few libraries have created their own teaching/learning tools, beyond screen casting videos.
However, in Summer-2010, two York University librarians, Norda Majekodunmi and Kent Murnaghan, created an instructional video series called, “Learning: In Our Own Words.” The goals of these videos are to: (i) trace “real” experience of new students and their literacies skills (research, writing and learning) during their first year of college; and, (ii) create instructional videos for librarians/instructors to engage students in critical thinking/discussion.
This article outlines the authors’ experiences in creating those videos and accompanying teaching guides, and screening them in a classroom setting. They discuss lessons learned, so that more libraries will develop their own teaching/learning videos.
The approach of Majekodunmi and Murnaghan is student-centered. The main project principles focus on the “student voice,” and that the students “should be considered experts in their own right” (p. 3). Students are asked to share about their previous experiences influencing their understanding of how to engage in research.

The authors researched literature on planning and production of teaching videos and methodologies, but found little material relevant to their project. What they did find was Paivi Karppinen’s review of theoretical literature, and as a key part of their methodology, they worked to create videos that embodied his six characteristics of meaningful learning. That is, the videos were: active; constructive and individual; collaborative and conversational; contextual; guided; and, emotionally involving/motivating. They chose these criteria as benchmarks for their end product, and for assurance that they would succeed in creating a successful teaching/learning video.
The authors here discuss technicalities required to produce videos, such as interview timeframes, scheduling and location, as well as post-production team staffing, and budgeting.
The paper’s core research questions are:
1. Can information presented in a stimulating, interesting digital video format lead to in-depth learning?
— According to the authors, citing Karppinen, information presented in a stimulating, interesting digital video format will not automatically lead to in-depth learning. However, Karppinen goes on to state that, based on his review of the theoretical literature, a toolkit of meaningful learning embodies 6 characteristics. (Majekodunmi and Murnaghan, p. 3, citing Karppinen, p. 235).

2. Do videos support active learning on their own?
— No. The authors make clear that preparation is key to successfully teaching with videos, which can be used effectively if paired with such relevant learning activities as student self-reflection, one-minute response papers, hands-on searching, and group activities (Majekodunmi and Murnaghan, p. 8). It also is essential to contextualize the video: (a) Why are the students are watching the video?, and, (b) What are the expectations that follow — what activities would occur after viewing the video? (Majekodunmi and Murnaghan, p. 10).

3. Can student-centered videos, with integrated teaching guides enhance academic learning by speaking to students in their own voices, with students as “experts”?
— Yes. Because the videos are student-centered, viewers are likely to feel a personal connection to their peers in the video — more so than if a librarian or instructor were talking to them. Also, online videos as a medium appeal to most first-year students (Majekodunmi and Murnaghan, p. 9).

The authors conclude with a brief summary of findings that closely align with new literacies initiatives in academic settings.
Due to the lengthy filming and video production process, they propose that similar projects in the future include sufficient preparation for each production stage, with flexible timelines occurring during a less busy time of year.
The researchers also conclude that “videos do not support active learning on their own, but they can be used effectively if paired with relevant learning activities” (p. 10).
When surveyed, 78% of participating students reported that they appreciated the exposure to other students’ experiences, and another 78% agreed that the videos were engaging. Student levels of engagement were reported to have increased when the videos were appropriately introduced and contextualized, when expectations and subsequent activities were discussed, and when students were encouraged to decide whether or not they personally agreed with the messages in the videos.
The authors also explain the value of instructors as facilitators instead of traditional lecturers. They conclude that librarians must continue to consider the “academic world” from the unique perspectives of students in order to improve instruction and develop meaningful learning tools. A project such as this one “speaks to students in their own voices, positions the students themselves as “experts,” and works toward transforming the student experience” (p. 11), and they would like to see the videos used in a wider variety of courses and classroom contexts (p. 10).

The central premise of this video project involves “students as experts, instructors as facilitators” (p. 10-11). The article describing Majekodunmi and Murnaghan’s project shows that by creating student-centric videos, instructors are able to design a better learning tool.
In the future, it would be great if incoming students were regularly interviewed with questions similar to those asked in this project, even when filming is not available. Then, instructors would be able to use the interview results as baseline data to update the curriculum from the students’ standpoint.
Using these videos interviews in the classroom allows instructors to engage with students more actively (p. 10). Within teaching guides, the constructive and individual process is a key methodology (p. 8).

In the future, what other kinds of ways can instructors help students construct their academic progress? Instructors should keep an open mind as to emerging literacies because there are always new ways to communicate through technology.


Karppinen, Paivi. “Meaningful Learning with Digital and Online Videos: Theoretical Perspectives.” AACE Journal, 13.3 (2005): 233-250. Web. 20 Aug. 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.editlib.org/d/6021
Majekodunmi, Norda and Kent Murnaghan. “Learning: In Our Own Words.” Web. 20 August 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.library.yorku.ca/cms/learning-commons/2011/11/08/learning-video-series/

One thought on ““In Our Own Words”: Creating Videos as Teaching and Learning Tools”

  1. The idea of learning happening most meaningfully when students are actively engaged really shows through here. While this study looks at college-age learners, even work in early literacy shows that participation in the learning process is crucial to maintaining interest. Student-led discussions, often beginning with some teacher direction and requiring students to carry the question and answers within a discussion, has proven to be helpful with 7-12 graders, as well.

    Collaborating with their peers and learning from one another seems to have a tremendous impact on a student’s learning process. The ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education supports this idea in each of the standards. This assignment encouraged students to select and evaluate necessary information. To further develop their literacy skills, students incorporated their knowledge into informative videos that could then be used by their peers. Another way to encourage students to be engaged in the assessment process and to foster creativity is to have students create an e-portfolio that includes images, short clips of instruction, music, and reflections of their own learning experience.

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