Three Plans for Designing Instructional Videos – Part I

The following three-part series presents techniques for designing instructional videos that maximize learning value. Each contribution to this series will highlight one model for how you might go about designing and planning a video. Each of these models can (and should) be modified to meet your learners’ needs and teaching situations.

About Instructional Videos

Video is becoming a ubiquitous part of many elearning experiences. Technologies have advanced to a point where the “barrier-of-entry” for creating and hosting instructional videos is minimal. With little investment of time and resources, educators can create high-quality videos that can support a variety of learning experiences.

In this article, I will present the first of three models for planning and organizing instructional videos. Instructional videos can provide flexibility for students and allow you to extend the teaching experience beyond the simple presentation of information.

These models give you a framework for planning and designing videos that can maximize learning value.


Context First, Concept Second

This model begins with setting the context for why the concept being presented in the video matters. This helps the learner understand the connection to their learning experience and how they will be able to use the information.

You may also enhance the video by incorporating examples throughout the video that further illustrates the concept you are teaching.

The following model and video describes how you can use this approach for designing instructional videos for the courses you teach.

A graphic showing the model of context-first, concept-second for designing instructional videos


screenshot of a video showing the model of context-first, concept-second for designing instructional videos


In my next post, I will discuss using challenge questions to guide the design of instructional videos.


  1. I like this Context First, Concept Second approach. My main issue in preparing videos for my online classes is that I think my videos are too long. When I see the advice for the various elements in this instructional video, I wonder how to include all of these elements without making the video too long. Is it a matter of making a series of shorter videos with all of these elements? I see this video is one of a three-part series. Do we have research concerning the length of videos that are optimal for student learning?

    • Hi Christy, I’m glad you like the idea of the Context First, Concept Second approach. Depending on the specific video, segmenting can be a good strategy to keep videos shorter. Also, the context may be a relatively short statement in component in the video, with the more detailed information later in the video for the explanation. The context helps to show the connection for the learner. Regarding video length, you might enjoy this article . While not intended to be a universal guideline, the author suggests the optimal video length is 6 minutes or shorter based on learner engagement. Let me know if this helps!

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