Who’s afraid of DIY video in education?

By Sjoerd Stoffels

Using video in education has become part of teaching reality during recent months. Moving from on-campus to online teaching and learning, accelerated developments that were already literally ‘visual’ in educational organisations on a global scale for quite some time. However, this development is hardly about recording full lectures. It is about various concepts that are better suited for digesting on devices or screens.

Emilie Sitzia and Patrick Bijsmans already shared their valuable expertise and experiences with video-based materials in previous blog posts. John Parkinson demonstrated wonderful examples regarding his video productions, during the third FASoS webinar on online teaching and learning on 22 April. None of these good practices concern traditional lectures that were recorded in a lecture room. All were personal creations, produced with personal devices: computers, laptops, smartphones/tablets (if necessary enhanced with an extra microphone, a tripod or light exposure).

Many of us have suitable equipment at home. Nice to know is that, as of recently, you can also borrow a DIY kit from the University Library to enhance your mobile device for better videos. This kit contains some useful gear, including a small tripod, a light and a semi-professional microphone.

What still is a bit of uncharted territory, is the actual filming process, which software or applications to use and where to publish the final result. Hopefully this blog will give you a big push in the right direction.


Let’s assume that you are staring into the camera of your laptop, tablet or smartphone at the moment. Asking yourself, what do I need to do from here? There are 8 general rules of thumb that lay the foundations for a good recording:

  1. Check the sound – on film even a ticking clock is too loud.
  2. Don’t move a mobile recording device (camera, smartphone), use a tripod if possible.
  3. Focus on your subject, don’t change focus. Switch off autofocus.
  4. Don’t zoom while shooting.
  5. Keep on filming for 5 more seconds after you’re done.
  6. Don’t film towards the source of your light.
  7. Make more than one shot with different scenes and different zooms and edit.
  8. Don’t read from paper. Look into the camera and talk naturally.

If you can spare the time, here is a crash-course-filming manual that discusses these rules in detail.


There are countless free mobile device apps and desktop/laptop software tools. It can be overwhelming to choose the editor which suits you best. Fortunately, experts have already done that work for you by assembling comprehensible shortlists. These two recent resources offer excellent overviews, regardless of your operating system or device:

Next to editor software and applications, there is also a third way. If you have a YouTube account and/or channel, you might already know that YouTube offers a web-based video editor that is part of YouTube Studio. It is accessible by means of an account or channel. A nice extra is, that this editor also contains an audio library with copyright-free music and sounds. See also this handy article about how to use YouTube’s Studio video editor: The Beginner’s Guide to Editing YouTube Videos.


After recording and editing is done, your final step is publishing your video. Again, if you have a YouTube account and/or channel, it can serve as a platform to publish recordings. However, our university also has a Mediasite streaming server for uploading and publishing videos. Mediasite might already sound familiar to you, since lecture hall recordings are processed with this application. But this is only one side of the Mediasite coin; the other side offers a server where UM-staff and students can publish their DIY productions. More information and access to the server can be found right here on VideUM, the university’s central portal for using video in education. For those who want to dive into working with video more thoroughly, the VideUM portal contains much advice and guidance.

It’s a wrap

Hopefully, this article has taken away stage fright when it comes to working with video in your courses – and in particular the DIY aspects of it. Creating videos can offer a nice variation and be a useful learning experience as well. Who knows, maybe you will discover unsuspected talents and master the art of great educational videos! I’ll leave you with a fine quote from a time when mobile video cameras just had become common good. As American film director Francis Ford Coppola said in the documentary Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991):

“To me, the great hope is that now these little 8mm video recorders and stuff have come out, and some… just people who normally wouldn’t make movies are going to be making them. And you know, suddenly, one day some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart, you know, and make a beautiful film with her little father’s camera recorder. And for once, the so-called professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever. And it will really become an art form.”

About the author

Sjoerd Stoffels is project leader and consultant educational technology at FASoS. He has long-term experience in this domain, also being an eyewitness of its genesis. Sjoerd is active in several faculty, university and nation-wide educational technology projects or steady-state processes. He was awarded with the UM Education Prize once, plus nominated two more times.