Trade Secret #3: Use videos to introduce each week and mix it up

By Dr. Marilyn Herie

Incorporating a short video of myself at the beginning of each “class” (weekly module) helps to establish instructional immediacy, a key component of effective online teaching and learning. We’re not talking high production values, but just helping students to put a face and personality to my name helps foster a sense of connectedness and engagement. It’s also good to mix things up and harness the rich array of web based applications and resources that are out there: videos, websites, blogs, news aggregators, and more. I also encourage students to find and share their own online discoveries.

Transcript – Trade Secret #3: Use videos to introduce each week and mix it up (click to open)

Welcome to tip number three in my online teaching trade secrets series. I’m Marilyn Herie and I’ve been teaching online for almost 20 years. Hard to believe. But over the way, I have learned a few little nuggets and some of them took me years to learn.

One big one for me was getting over my shyness of recording videos. Like, I did not want to do it. Plus, when I first started teaching online, it wasn’t that easy. I actually had to use my daughter’s video camera. And then I had to figure out how to transfer the video to my computer, and edit the video, like it was painful. But once I got started, not only did I start to feel more comfortable, but I saw and reaped the benefits of students love for just getting that instructional immediacy, that contact with me. And so here’s, like, embarrassingly, yes, all of the videos. Here’s one that I did for week number eight in my online addictions treatment course. And I have a YouTube account. I would post these as unlisted YouTube videos. And so anyone who gets the link can watch it but those videos aren’t searchable openly on YouTube.

I also recommend to mix it up. That there are so many great tools that we can use in addition to videos of ourselves more than ever. Whether it’s Mentimeter and doing an online quiz, like just a fun, opinion check type thing, or all of the other apps like Padlet, etc. Students love different ways to engage and they can do that so readily with their mobile phones which they use the most out of every single thing in the world. Their phone is never further than an arm’s reach away. And so, I guess just to reinforce that the video part was something that students really appreciated. That notion that, “it made me feel like it was an in-person class even though it was online,” and somehow just that sense of, like, I am actually touching base with the professor, even if it’s just seeing the video, really brought that personal note to it. Also, P.S. once you record your videos, they have a shelf life of a good three years. So it also gives a chance to sort of iteratively improve and continue to enhance.

So I hope you found that trade secret helpful and tune in to my other trade secrets.

Check out Dr. Marilyn’s Herie’s other Trade Secrets!

Dr. Marilyn Herie, PhD RSW is Vice President Academic and Chief Learning Officer at Centennial College in Toronto, Canada, with an academic cross-appointment as Assistant Professor (Status Only), University of Toronto Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. I’ve been engaged in online (and classroom-based) post-secondary teaching and research since 1999. My areas of interest include elearning and classroom teaching, interprofessional education research and evaluation, motivation and change, and social media. I blog about education and teaching-related topics at