Video on the Web

The Best Choice... according to the experts

When incorporating video into a Web site, you must always balance the need for video with bandwidth considerations. Video can be difficult to transmit over the Web effectively, so you should choose to use video only when you absolutely need it.

  1. Videos are an ideal medium to
    1. demonstrate interpersonal interactions and human response to unusual situations
    2. demonstrate dangerous experiments
    3. record one-time events and special guest speakers
  2. Combine watching a video with discussion questions or another activity so that students can reflect on the content.
  3. Avoid long passages of a single person talking and very long chunks of videos. Video screens on computers are generally smaller and users can be more quicky distracted. (Nielsen 2005)
  4. Use the ITS Streaming Server to comply with TEACH Act (copyright for online course content) for pre-existing videos.
  5. Use Digital Commons Tutorials to learn how to create video.
  6. Students can create videos for class projects at their campus Digital Commons.


Denning – "Video is now recognized by most educators as a powerful communications medium which, in combination with other learning resources and instructional strategies, can perform a vital role in modern education...When videos are properly integrated into instruction, they do not function merely to provide diversion - they promote learning through active engagement of students' mental processes."

Basic Information

Video in the Classroom

Research suggests that students learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning activity. The instructors should decide how to effectively integrate video into teaching/learning process in order to facilitate learning. Consider:

  1. Arranging for online video is time-consuming. Is the video the best source of information?
  2. Do you need to introduce the video or have a pre-viewing activity? Do you want to tell students what to focus on ahead of time?
  3. What activities should you include after the video viewing experience? Are discussion questions sufficient or do you need more in-depth activities?
  4. Will students be at stage in their course where they can understand the video?

Copyright of Pre-Existing Video

The TEACH Act allows instructors more leeway to videos on a course Web site, but not total freedom. Penn State recommends:

  1. Stream videos on the ITS Streaming Server. Regular links and video podcasting allow students to download and keep a copy of the video
  2. Restrict viewing permissions to students in your course (see also the ANGEL course managment system). The TEACH Act requires restricted access by course roster to longer clips of videos.
  3. Put only the sections you need online to preserve bandwidth and reduce viewing times. Video quality of online video is generally poorer than on a DVD player, so students may be more impatient with viewing times.

High vs. Low Bandwidth Quality

Streamed video can be shown at two levels of quality

high bandwidth – Best viewed on campus or over a broadband connection (e.g. cable, DSL, ethernet)

low bandwidth – Optimized for slow connections, especially dial up modems.

Note: About 85% of students of University Park students have broadband connections at home. The numbers for other campues may not be the same.

High bandwidth videos are of better quality, but some viewers on dial-up connections may only be able to see the low-bandwidth connection. If in doubt, create two versions and give students the choice.


If you use video files in a course, a text transcript may need to be provided. Captions are the best option, but a link to a text transcription can also be used.
Penn State Video Accessibility

Shooting Video

Shooting your own video allows you to show whatever you want and create custom content, but it also requires a lot of pre-planning (what to shoot, where to shoot, what to say, adding special effects, background music copyright, etc.).

See tutorials at the Digital Commons for information on planning and creating video


Denning, David. (no date). Video in theory and practice: Issues for classroom use and teacher video evaluation. Retrieved May 14, 2003, from

Nielsen, Jakob. (1995). Guidelines for multimedia on the web. Retrieved May 14, 2003, from

Nielsen, Jakob. (2005) Talking-Head Video Is Boring Online. Retrieved Jan 16, 2007 from

Prairie Public Broadcasting (no date) Video in the classroom: Useful techniques for teachers. Retrieved May 14, 2003, from
[No Longer Available]

Additional Links

Penn State Video Resources

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