How to Produce Effective Educational Videos

By admin | Education

Sep 09


Create educational videos that will help students learn

The last few years have witnessed a dramatic increase in the use of video in education, no more so than in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). The are many reasons for this upswing in video’s popularity, including enhanced information retention for students, increased accessibility to technology and also lower production costs.

To maximise learning and improve student feedback, it is important to adhere to best practice in the design and implementation of video, creating a situation for optimum cognitive load.


Understanding Cognitive Load

In the late 1980s, the Cognitive Load Theory suggested that any learning experience has three components – intrinsic, extraneous and germane. Building on that, the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning notes that the human memory has two channels for information acquisition and processing: a visual / pictorial channel as well as an auditory / verbal processing channel.

It is through the best use of these two channels that learning is maximised, hence why video is gaining in popularity for teaching.

Intrinsic Cognitive Load

This refers to the inherent level of difficulty associated with a topic. Intrinsic load can be managed by segmenting information and allowing learners to be able to engage with smaller pieces of information. To improve learning, videos should not be more than four to six minutes long. If a longer format is required, it should be broken down into segments or a series of videos.

Extraneous Cognitive Load

Often arising from a poorly designed lesson, extraneous cognitive reverses the desired learning outcome. By highlighting keywords or symbols and strategically using colour and contrast (signalling), extraneous load can be reduced. Leaving out distracting elements such as music and backgrounds will also minimise extraneous load, as will making sure that there isn’t surplus information in any video presentation.

Germane Cognitive Load

This is the level or cognitive activity necessary to reach the desired learning outcome. Germane Load can be increased by clearly segmenting videos in order to emphasis the structure of the information.

Producing Video for Optimum Cognitive Load

Below are some key takeaways to keep in mind when designing educational videos, in order to maximise learning.

  • Keep videos short. No more than six minutes and under four minutes if possible
  • Use simple, clear wording and don’t go into excessive detail
  • Emphasis key points throughout the video using keywords, symbols or animations
  • Leave out unnecessary and distracting backgrounds or music
  • Use both voice and visual cues to highlight key points within a video


Looking for an experienced educational video producer in the Sydney area?

Contact Intro2Outro for a free quote.


  1. Cowan, Nelson (2008). “What are the differences between long-term, short-term, and working memory?”. Prog Brain Res. 169 (169):
  2. Sweller, J (June 1988). “Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning”. Cognitive Science 12 (2): 257–285.


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