While many people use videos in courses for lectures and presentations, there are many other ways to use video to promote critical thinking and active learning. Instead of using 1-3 hour long videos that may have been recorded in the classroom, where students will passively watch (and often drift away), try some of the methods below to engage students and help ensure that they are meeting the stated learning objectives.

Strategies That Promote Active Learning

Guided Lesson

  • Short, topical videos (5-20 min)
  • Attach required documents (datasets, worksheets, etc.)
  • Can be done in one video (with pauses as shown below) or broken into sequenced activities (e.g. adaptive release in Blackboard)
  1. Instruction/Demonstration
  2. Pause video
  3. Student works on problem or scenario
  4. Resume video
  5. Faculty reviews the correct response

Learn more and view of example of a guided lesson.

Video Reflection

  • Student produced (5-10 minutes)
  • Appropriate for Affective Domain
  1. Clear instruction prompt
  2. Student summarizes initial beliefs
  3. Student identifies whether or not change occurred
  4. Student provides evidence of change
  5. Student reflects on change in attitude or behavior

Topic Assignment

  • Student finds video (1-5 minutes)
  1. Student assigned topic
  2. Student finds a video in support or opposition (e.g. using NBC Learn)
  3. Student summarizes video
  4. Student explains how video supports/opposes
  5. Student evaluates to see if conclusions apply to broader topic

Predict, Observe, Evaluate (POE)

  • Can be instructor produced, student produced, or existing (10-20 minutes)
  1. Student views first part of video setting up scenario
  2. Student predicts what should happen next
  3. Student observes the actual result
  4. Student evaluates the original prediction

Ten Frame Analysis

  • Student produces from existing video
  1. Assign video to view.
  2. Students will, individually or in groups, take ten screen shots from the video that they feel describe the issue.
  3. Students will describe why they feel these screen shots effectively describe the issue, as they see it.
  4. Students will submit an assignment with the screen shots and documentation or present to the class (video presentation in discussion board or through web conferencing).


  • Appropriate for Affective Domain objectives
  1. Assign video to view.
  2. Students will complete a survey or have a discussion (in discussion board or web conferencing) to describe how they felt about the topic before and after viewing the video.
  3. If students’ views changed, ask them what changed their minds.

Dissonance and Shock

  • Appropriate for lesson introduction (short clip)
  1. To introduce a difficult or controversial topic, use a powerful clip which may disrupt assumptions and preconceived notions.
  2. Conduct a discussion on ethics (in the discussion board or through web conferencing). 


(JISC), J. I. (2007). Pedagogical Exemplars. Retrieved from JISC: http://misc.jisc.ac.uk/JISC/pedagogical.php

Moore, E. A. (2013, May 20). From Passive Viewing to Active Learning: Simple Techniques for Applying Active Learning Strategies to Online Course Videos. Retrieved from Faculty Focus: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-with-technology-articles/from-passive-viewing-to-active-learning-simple-techniques-for-applying-active-learning-strategies-to-online-course-videos/