Beginning with a question, or a problem not immediately explained, but that will be answered by the end of the video can be a good way to get and maintain attention. It can also help to focus on what is important about that video, and can be a good guide for you in creating the video.
Each video should more or less focus on one single issue or topic. These smaller chunks will relate to each other, and other areas of the course, but should be segmented as chapters or single points.
It can be helpful also to tie a video to an activity. So after students view the video, they will have a discussion, or work on an assignment with that new information. That won’t be possible for every video, but can be helpful when used judiciously.
Speak directly to the online students to increase your presence. It can be tricky to master since they are not sitting in front of you, but the more personal you can sound, the more engaging the video will be. Speaking using more energy might feel unnatural, but it makes a huge difference to students viewing the video.
A benefit of using video is the ability to pause and review, so move quickly and don’t repeat yourself too much. We used to think that speaking slowly was preferable: students could process new concepts as the instructor spoke, but from student survey data and student reporting we find quicker pacing is easier to pay attention to.
Another effective use of video is to make use of visual cues or signaling. It can be helpful for learners to see key words highlighted, underlined, or otherwise visually emphasized. Signaling gives students an idea of what’s important and what should be paid attention to and is especially useful in classes with many new terms and concepts.