“If it can be written or thought, it can be filmed.”

– Stanley Kubrick

Warning! Warning! Warning!

I know that you are busy, but make sure you have time to read the entire post (and watch a 2-minute video) before you dive in.  I want to show you that even a poorly done video can have a MASSIVE impact, but let me have a little fun at my own expense before I get to the point.

The 6 Steps to a Bad Online Teaching Video:


1.  Have Technical Issues:

You only need to watch the first 5 seconds of the video to notice that my lips and my voice are not in sync.   This happened on a few of my videos before I figured out the problem.  For some strange reason, computers have a hard time recording videos when there are 77 Google Chrome tabs open!  Hmph!


2.  Try to Look Like a Zombie:

Between poor lighting and life with a 4-year-old, I look like I just spent a weekend in Vegas (and lost).  I usually take the time to set up an LED light and choose a good background, but I had bacteria to grow and was on a tight schedule.


3.  Don’t Comb Your Hair:

I don’t usually spend much time primping before I record a video, but I at least take a peek in a mirror most of the time.  It must have been a windy day for sure.  And yes, I Googled primping to make sure I was using it correctly :).


4.  Forget to Pack Your Microphone:

The audio isn’t terrible, but the best microphone in the world can’t help you if it’s 90 miles away.


5.  Don’t Know What You Want to Say:

I don’t script my videos, but I usually have bullet points to keep me on track.  If you are looking for a fun drinking game, take a drink every time I flub a word or trip over my tongue.


6.  Don’t Do Any Editing:

I personally don’t think this is a big issue, but I added it because a lot of you might think that it is.  I generally won’t do more than 2-3 minutes of basic editing on a video like this.  I might silence a cough, throw a bit of text on the screen, and mute a few of the umm’s.  But my hope is that you soon see that those things are nice, but not necessary.


On With the Show:

Follow this 6-step plan, and this is the type of video you can expect.  I wasn’t proud of the finished product, but I needed to get something sent off to the students.  It was going to have to be good enough, and it clearly was.  Give it a quick watch before reading on about the impact this video had on my students.

The Worst Teaching Video is The One You Don’t Make:

Here’s the thing.  I was the only person that cringed watching this video.  The students didn’t care about any of the flaws.  They didn’t even notice.  All that they saw was an online teacher that cares about them and wants them to be proud of their progress.

Want proof?  Here are seven unedited responses that I received as a direct result of sending this video out as my weekly welcome message (student names removed).  I was honestly blown away by the response:

  • “Thank you, Dr. O, for making us feel like we matter, thank you for making us feel like we are part of the family.


  • “I Just wanted to say that I think you are doing a great job! You, by far, have been the best communicator and most approachable professor out of the four classes that I am currently taking. I feel like I can ask questions and that you make the learning personable and fun. I truly had reservations about returning to school online but you have made achieving my dreams a little bit easier and you put my anxiety at ease with this class.”


  • “Thank you for being so responsive and helpful with your classes. If only more instructors were like you and put the time and effort into their classes that you do. If only you could teach every class!  Thanks a ton!”


  • “Thank you so much for being the caring person that you are! I actually dreaded taking this class again but I no longer feel that way with you being our teacher and guide. God bless you, Dr. O!!”


  • “I Just wanted to stop in and tell you this is the most interaction I’ve ever had from an online teacher and I absolutely love it. I actually look forward to our discussions every week. I’ve learned so much from just those!”


  • “Thank you for your message.  I am blessed that God has put you in my path.”


  • “Hi Dr. O.  I don’t have any questions, I just wanted to say that I am SO glad I have your class.  My other class is not fun, at all.  Every aspect of it just really bums me out.  I was just telling a friend that if I didn’t have your class also this semester that I would drop out.  So thank you for teaching an amazing class in an interesting and involving way.  Your class is keeping me working towards my goal!!”


Embrace the Power of Video:

I will make a “bad” video every day of the week if they impact my online courses like this one did.  Is there something holding you back from making videos for your online students?  Your students don’t need perfection; they need you!  

I hope that this post has empowered you to make video a bigger part of your online courses.  What can you say to your online students today to have this kind of impact?

Check out this video if you need more help overcoming your fears of making videos for your online courses.

If you can’t make a great online teaching video, make an “awesome” one poorly!

Crush it!

Dr. O

PS:  Share this article with someone that is on the fence about making online course videos.  It may be just the push that they need.


I want to hear from you.  Feel free to:

  • Leave a comment below.  I will personally reply to each one
  • Tag me @GrowGrayMatter on Twitter or LinkedIn to move the discussion to my favorite social media channels
  • Send me a message through the contact form on the bottom of the About page

Crush it!

Dr. O


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