• Academic Technology

The Secret to Delivering Engaging Video Learning Experiences Across Your School District

Panopto is on a mission to help K-12 school districts use video for digital learning experiences. Why? Video learning is engaging, highly effective, and addresses various learning needs across a district, including those of its students, teachers, staff, and the external community. Between rapidly accelerating video viewing on web-enabled devices, new tools for creating video content, and a constant demand for information and high-tech engagement tools, educational use of video is exploding.

Unfortunately, many districts are focused almost exclusively on creating long-form video recordings and holding hour-long web conferences. The lack of engagement and extended duration of these experiences creates video fatigue. Most districts are also not willing to invest in enterprise video technologies, instead opting for inferior solutions that are low-cost or free. School districts are missing a huge opportunity to deliver engaging, captivating viewing experiences.


So what is the secret to delivering engaging video learning experiences in your school district? 


It’s all about change. Students have changed, technology is ever-changing, and now, school districts and stakeholders have a responsibility to change. 

School districts have a responsibility to embrace all flavors of K-12 educational video for all constituents. Deploying an enterprise K-12 video platform gives districts their best shot at effectively using video to achieve learning and community engagement.

Many school districts and their leaders are at a crossroads. Rather than rely on free (or nearly free) video software, these school districts have an opportunity to deploy enterprise-grade solutions designed for flexibility, scalability, and success. This way, each school district can empower its entire community with video learning tools that build meaningful connections inside and outside the classroom. 

Here are specific, actionable ideas to help you create a roadmap for change in your district:

  1. Embrace ALL the flavors of K-12 educational video
  2. Create engaging video content
  3. Invest in a robust K-12 video platform


1 – Embrace All the Flavors of K-12 Educational Video


School districts have a responsibility to embrace ALL the flavors of K-12 educational video to engage students, teachers, and parents in ways that stimulate and reinforce learning and knowledge-sharing. Educational video can be used in ten common ways. Consider which of these types of video your school district is currently using and which new types would be an effective next step:

1. User-Generated Micro Content: Short, focused video created by individual students, staff members, or community members. 

Example: A student video assignment interviewing a veteran on Veterans Day.

2. Classroom Recordings: Recorded classroom lessons (typically long-form), made available to students, teachers or staff. 

Example: A district representative records a multi-stream professional development session for all teachers to re-watch or access on-demand.

3. Explainer Videos: Typically a short-form video that highlights a topic, tool, or idea in a compelling and efficient manner. 

Example: A science teacher creates a short video explaining how plants make their own food with sunlight, carbon dioxide, water, and chlorophyll.

4. How-To Tutorials: Videos that instruct people how to do something new and answer questions on a specific topic. 

Example: An instructional technology staff member creates a video on the Office365 calendar function because your school district is migrating from Google to Office365. 

5. Public Streams: A publicly available live-streaming broadcast that is meant to be viewed by the district community. 

Example: The district A/V department streams the holiday middle school orchestra concert so it can be viewed by parents, relatives, and other community members who cannot attend in person.

6. Private Live Streams: A live-streaming broadcast intended for a select group of people in the district, rather than the entire district community. 

Example: The school library media specialist works with students to create daily morning announcements that can be streamed internally so the entire district community is informed and ready for the day.

7. Webinars: A synchronous online event where a speaker, or small group of speakers, delivers a class or presentation to an audience who participates by submitting questions, responding to polls, and using other available interactive tools. 

Example: The A/V and IT team collaborate to run monthly school board meetings through Zoom, Teams or WebEx and make it available to the district community live and on-demand.

8. Licensed Video: Broadcast or entertainment video content that schools must pay to license and legally stream. Video licensing is typically done through library media services. 

Example: The school library media specialist offers in-class and online streaming of the motion picture Selma for social studies courses that are covering civil rights. 

9. Video Quizzes: A video feature that allows instructors or staff members to insert questions into asynchronous video content. While playing, the video will pause where there is a question, and a student must answer the question to continue the video. 

Example: An art teacher creates a video quiz on color theory as a formative assessment to reinforce comprehension and monitor student learning. 

10. Observation: Videos that record activities, actions, and behaviors to benefit evaluation processes, enhance self-reflection and mentorship, and improve review and feedback mechanisms. 

Example: The A/V department schedules automatic recordings of in-class observations that are safely shared with district administration and mentor teachers to improve teaching and classroom management. 

2 – Create Engaging Video Content 


Talented teachers engage students every day inside of classrooms. But what about reaching them outside of the classroom? Video engagement is an emotional state where a student, teacher, or community member feels energetic, passionate, and committed toward their learning while interacting with a video. The challenge lies in creating and sharing video content that captivates an audience and encourages interaction. To get started, here are some simple suggestions to create engaging video content. 


Make it Interactive

Interaction doesn’t require talking back and forth. When it comes to video, it means enabling a two-way flow of information between the video and the viewer, so the video player can respond to the user’s input. To do this, make sure your desktop and mobile video player offer:

  • Search and Discovery: Allows viewers to find what they need from a specific point in a video within a video library.
  • Clickable Smart Chapters: An automatic table of contents for the video created through Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which identifies content within the video rather than from uploaded PowerPoint or Keynote presentations.
  • Video quizzes: In-video quizzes that help instructors test comprehension, reinforce key concepts, and improve knowledge retention.
  • Clickable Presentation/Thumbnails: Allows viewers to quickly navigate to different parts of the video based on images extracted from the video.
  • Discussion Board: Gives viewers space to leave a public comment on a session for others to see.
  • Individual/Group Notes: Allows viewers to take notes while viewing for later reference, with the ability to search within notes. 
  • Interactive Transcripts: Provides a scrolling transcript while playing the video, highlighting current captions. 
  • Bookmarks: Allows viewers to mark a particular spot in a recording to revisit later. Bookmarks will also show up in your search results. 


Stimulate the Viewers’ Senses

“When I hear, I forget. When I see, I remember. When I do, I understand.” This ancient Chinese proverb illustrates the importance of the senses in the learning process. To stimulate a viewer’s senses and make learning more meaningful, use eye-catching and effective visuals that capture attention. Make sure audio is clear, crisp, and interesting. By leveraging a best-in-class browser-based or mobile video player, viewers will find interacting with videos feels more natural and effortless. Teachers can also get students actively involved in their learning through video assignments, where students create their own content rather than passively viewing video.  


Experiment with Content Delivery

Educational video content doesn’t have to—and shouldn’t—always look the same. Mixing up your content delivery strategies is the key to capturing attention, whether you want to engage students, staff, or district stakeholders. Consider your viewers: What are they interested in? What perspectives or experiences do they bring to your content? Keep your message real, relevant, and relatable, and be mindful of different learning styles.

In 2015, The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University examined several meta-analyses and multiple studies on video-enabled learning. They then used their insights to develop a set of recommendations for producing effective educational video content, which include the following:

  • Signaling: Use on-screen text or symbols to highlight important information and direct the learner’s attention. For example, signaling may be provided by the appearance of two or three keywords, a change in color or contrast, or a symbol that draws attention to a region of a screen like an arrow.
  • Segmenting: Structure information into chunks. This allows learners to engage with small pieces of new information while also giving them control over the flow of new information. In practice, an instructor might choose to break a course into shorter videos, or purposefully add breaks between segments in longer videos with a question or a quiz.  
  • Weeding: Eliminate interesting but extraneous information from the video, specifically, information that does not contribute to the learning goal. In other words – keep it simple. Minimize the use of music, complex backgrounds or animations that can distract the learner.
  • Matching Modality: Give the learner complementary streams of information to elucidate a new concept. One example of this is a video that shows the presenter speaking in one part of the screen and their supporting slides in another part of the screen. Another video might show the instructor demonstrating a process on the screen while narrating.  Using both channels to convey appropriate and complementary information not only increases student engagement but has also been shown to increase students’ retention and ability to transfer information.

Advances in video software for elearning has made it easier than ever to record videos that follow best practices. Not only can the right software make it easy to record multiple audio and video streams with minimal clutter, but they also include simple video editing tools, and the ability to add interactive elements like quizzes or embedded videos from YouTube. In order to cultivate and sustain engagement inside and outside of the classroom, it’s important to create both synchronous and asynchronous video experiences, like downloadable podcasts for offline listening and viewing, so your audience can engage when and where they will be the most receptive.

3 – Invest in an Enterprise K-12 Video Platform 


While school districts have the ability to provide video tools, they typically allow teachers to pick and choose their tools with little or no shared strategy. Although this DIY approach is affordable, it isn’t a sustainable and effective strategy. Every school district will eventually need to mature and invest—both financially and strategically—in an enterprise-grade K-12 video platform so that the entire district community can create, manage, and deliver engaging video learning experiences.

The word “investment” isn’t just financial; it refers to a strategic and philosophical investment that will move the district forward. Over the past couple years, almost every school has had to make digital learning a core part of learning delivery. Now, delivering a consistent and engaging digital learning experience is essential to the success of a school. 

Investing in a K-12 video platform doesn’t require overspending. It’s about evaluating all options, rather than defaulting to any free, low-cost, or trendy option available. Cost shouldn’t be the primary measure for other district investments—from purchasing school bus tires to hiring qualified teachers. In the same way, school districts need to move away from building a video strategy strictly based on free or low-cost video tools. 

A quality video platform offers engaging learning experiences and a level of standardization that improves usability and effectiveness. With the use of a unified, K-12 video platform, school districts have the ability to easily generate engaging video content at scale. More importantly, the benefits of everyone learning to use and master the same platform are extraordinary. 


Learn more about Panopto’s K-12 solutions or contact us to request a demo.