Teaching Tuesdays: Lights, Camera, Action: You and the Microlecture

Updated: Aug 26


The P3 Collaboratory is pleased to continue “Teaching Tuesdays,” our summer weekly series centered around best practices for remote instruction and teaching effectiveness.



Nearly everyone’s relationship with cameras, especially web cams, has changed considerably in the last few months. Previously a feature of your laptop, tablet, or phone that you might occasionally use for work, now recording, distributing, and streaming video content is a mainstay of our professional and pedagogical selves. Are you ready to make the move from Webex conferences and Zoom calls into the world of prerecorded lectures that your students can access at any time? You can do it! This entry in the Teaching Tuesday series aims to acquaint current and future faculty with some basic options for adding microlectures and video components to your online or hybrid courses.


What is a microlecture? Microlectures are short instructor-produced videos designed to provide effective explanations of a single concept or specific skill set. They should be between 5-7 minutes long and have a clear learning objective, preferably one that is stated in the first 30 seconds of the video and reinforced at its conclusion. Microlectures can be used to introduce new materials, revisit previously covered material in new detail, or explain an activity or assignment. The microlecture format is strongly preferred to longer form lecture videos for its organizational clarity, lightweight modular structure, and brevity, which is crucial for holding viewers’ attention.


Microlectures are great way to connect with your students, deliver course information in an engaging and efficient way, and boost instructor presence in an asynchronous or hybrid online classroom. They can also take a variety of forms, for example:

● Narrated lectures, i.e. PowerPoint or image/slide presentations with voice-over narration

● “Talking Head” videos where the instructor speaks directly to camera

● Interactive videos that integrate elements of viewer feedback or response.


In order to determine the best presentational style for your microlectures (which may vary in form over the span of a course), consider the content you want to convey and decide which format is best suited to the material. There are also production logistics to consider, but rest assured that while the prospect of filming microlectures may feel technologically intimidating (or just plain awkward), creating video content for your students can be surprisingly simple.


Each of the aforementioned formats comes with its own entry-level “do-it-yourself“ production strategies. For a narrated lecture, for example, an instructor could:


As your skill set and confidence level grows, you may want to branch out to other formats or tools, for instance, exploring Playposit to add layers of reflection or interactivity to microlectures. Polls, quizzes, and discussion prompts can be all added directly to your video files!

In general, the P3 recommends the following practices with regards to recorded lecture content:

  • Provide outlines for students to follow alongside your microlecture. These outlines are useful for taking notes during initial viewings and later they can serve as a “table of contents” when students are revisiting your videos as study materials.

  • Incorporate pause points in your microlectures to allow for reflection and cognitive processing. This can be as simple as saying, “Please pause this video for a moment, while you consider [xyz].”

  • The cognitive science research is very clear on the virtues of retrieval practice for student learning. Try to pair your microlectures with short activities or low/no-stakes quizzes that ask students to remember or apply what they just learned.


Below are some additional resources that provide excellent formal, technical, and pedagogical guidelines for the faculty venturing into the world of educational video production:


As always, a snapshot of the synchronous Teaching and Learning with Technology workshops being offered this coming week (July 21-28). Visit the links to register!


July 22, 3pm (1.5 hours): Fundamentals of Designing Online Courses

July 23, 1pm (1 hr): Intro to Canvas Part 2: Assign and Assess Student Work

July 24, 3pm (1 hr): Intro to Teaching Online: Best Practices for Supporting Student Learning

July 27, 10am (1.5 hours): Intro to Canvas Part 1: Setting Up & Building your Course in Canvas

*July 28, 1pm (1 hr): Best Practices for Lecture Capture and Video*

Browse upcoming Center for Teaching Advancement & Assessment Research (CTAAR) workshops here. CTAAR has also developed a resource page on Creating Video Content” (requires RU-N NetID to access.)

For readers who were unable to attend last week’s workshop on VoiceThread and FlipGrid curious to learn more about those applications, a recording of the session is available here. Voice Thread content begins around 10 minute mark; FlipGrid content begins around 38 minute mark.


Brought to you by the P3 Collaboratory for Pedagogy, Professional Development, and Publicly-Engaged Scholarship at Rutgers University-Newark

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