Educational Video Formats

Following is the first of many teche posts from the Learning and Teaching Centre’s Educational Media Portfolio on some of the current thinking around educational video formats.

Pre-recorded lectures

This common type of educational video is defined as the broadcasting of knowledge in a mostly didactic way. It serves the main purpose of communicating discipline-specific knowledge and is sometimes used within a flipped classroom model of education. It usually contains powerpoint slides and narration and may also contain a video of the speaker either in full frame or presented as a picture in picture.


By definition, interview videos contain real people talking about a subject or answering questions relevant to the discipline and the content. Interview videos are an ideal way to include professional and/or expert and/or authoritative and/or differing points of view of other people in the material delivered to students. The purpose can shift depending on the multiple sub-forms that this genre can take.

  • The answers only form (where the interviewer is not shown) can be for a more authoritative unfiltered purpose.
  • The two person interview (where the interviewer and interviewee are intercut) can be for a more exploratory and filtered purpose.
  • The panel interview (where multiple interviewees are synchronously shot with a moderator) can help show conflict of opinion and/or resonance of opinion and allow room for the student to use critical thinking to form their own opinion.
  • The expository and/or vox pops form (where multiple asynchronously shot interviewees are intercut) can allow for a constructed message and show a breadth of points of views on a topic.

PSY963 Video

Demonstrations and How-tos

The demonstration video and how-to video are linked in terms of genre. Both are more focussed on the showing instead of telling although a verbal explanation is almost always included as well. What links the two types is a focus on process usually realised through a sequential set of stages. They are useful wherever a physical or practical phenomena needs to be shown or where a skill or process needs to be demonstrated in a specific way. They are also very common and useful where software needs to be used and learnt or a mathematical problem/solution needs to be demonstrated possibly handwritten. These types of video can be lengthy to plan and produce but can also stand the test of time and be used for many years.

Animated sequences

A very valid type of educational video that can often capture and communicate phenomena and processes not otherwise showable, the animated sequence or motion graphic sequence is comprised solely of computer generated imagery. Creating animations of complex processes or diagrams, visualising phenomena through the use of stylised or 3D animation and even stepping through the steps of a flow chart or graph can greatly increase the focus on and understanding of the subject matter.

Role plays and Scenarios

Role play and scenario videos are used to simulate and show practice in a real world situation. They are useful to model good practice, highlight bad practice, show professional behaviour or show discipline specific interaction to the students in a structured way. They are particularly useful in disciplines like psychology, education, allied health or law etc. where the social or professional interaction between people is of paramount importance. They are also common in workplace health and safety videos as well as job interview training. They can be very powerful educationally if done well but cliche and amateurish if not planned and executed correctly.

Image by Free Digital Photos/By renjith krishnan
Image by Free Digital Photos/By renjith krishnan

Documentaries and Mixed methods

The documentary format is a time honoured method for non-fiction film production. Encompassing a wide variety of sub-genres and methods, these can most easily be described as a mix of the above types. Looking in detail, however, such as through the work of Bill Nichols on documentary mode (which has personally influenced a lot of my thinking in this area), differences in point of view, voice and treatment of knowledge among other dimensions creates an array of options and methods in this area.

And that is just some our thinking on student facing content. What about content students could make for assessment? For more thoughts, pondering and consideration of these types and more as well as using media for assessment, come along to the Designing Videos for/as Learning – Types and Genres workshop on the 30th June.


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