‘It’s Not Just You Talking to the Camera, Is It?’: Reflecting on the Use of Visuals in Teaching Videos

It’s been a while since I posted (consistency is such a difficult habit to develop over Summer with the chaos of the festive season looming!), so I thought I’d share the latest video on film analysis and essay advice I made for students. I’m only indirectly involved in the teaching of the Cinemas and Cultures unit and it’s very unlikely that any students enrolled in the subject are subscribed to this blog. But this site is gradually transforming from a blog I use only to post content for my digital media students to have a broader interest in the wider issues of gamification, Media Studies 2.0, and eLearning.

As is clear from the visuals I use throughout this video, I’ve developed a habit (at least I’ve got this one nailed!) of filming some seemingly random footage whenever I head to a relatively interesting location, just in case… I never know what the footage might be useful for, but it invariably comes in handy somewhere down the track. When I glance at some of my teaching videos from 2013 when I first started doing this kind of thing, I notice just how long I was talking in front of the camera. Even though it was edited down, even though I aimed to get straight to the point at all times, and even though I sometimes overlayed the footage with a fake tweet or some other kind of extra visual content, asking the viewer to patiently watch me talk to them while sitting in my living room (no matter how interesting I tried to make this setting look) wasn’t sustainable. Indeed, even in 2013, one of the first questions a student asked about my videos in a seminar was ‘It’s not just you talking to the camera, is it?’ I’d known before this that I wouldn’t be able to make anything resembling a ‘video sermon’, and that question reinforced the need to edit other material into my ‘lecture’ content, whether they be interviews or ‘just’ footage of my dog Tiffany being herself…

I get the strong sense that every year viewers expect more and more dynamic and varied visuals when they’re watching something – even if it is for educational purposes and isn’t supposed to be (at least solely) for ‘fun’. So while this isn’t the most entertaining video of all time – it is predominantly essay advice after all! – it does highlight how I’m experimenting with somewhat random but hopefully unobtrusive video footage to combine with voiceover. The main consideration was to keep the viewer interested but not missing out on the important points being made; to engage but not to distract; to elicit attention and reflection but not overwhelm the senses with chaos and confusion. And really, Nature has always been a brilliant resource to go to for exactly this kind of balance…

Thanks for reading, and if you’re really bored, watching 🙂



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