October 4, 2021

Engage Students Using Microlectures

Written by Janay White, MA

Microlectures are short, instructor-produced videos that are designed to provide effective explanations of a single concept or specific skill set (ACUE, 2020). The short videos (approximately 5 minutes) are easy to integrate into the curriculum, can be used as a component of online, blended, or face-to-face instruction, and can be combined with other learning activities to reinforce the lecture topic.  


Practical uses can include introducing a topic, raising awareness, or piquing curiosity (EDUCAUSE, 2012). 


See this video about the elements of an effective microlecture.  


Benefits for Students: 

  • Videos can be used as a resource for explaining key concepts or demonstrating difficult techniques.  
  • Students can focus on a single topic without distraction.  
  • Format encourages instructors to be concise in their presentation.  
  • Can create a sense of instructor presence and help online students feel connected to the instructor (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016; Nilson & Goodson, 2018; Scagnoli, 2012). 


Benefits for Instructors: 

  • Easy to create. 
  • Brevity of videos gives instructors the ability to make quick edits and updates.  
  • Lectures are reusable and can be easily shared.  
  • Format allows for detailed explanation of complex concepts.  


How to Prepare Microlecture: 

  • Determine learning objectives. Determine what students should know or be able to do after watching the lecture. Consider using Bloom’s Action Verbs 
  • Decide what will be shown in the video. Options include demonstrations, digital whiteboard lessons, narrated slides, and animated voice narrations.  
  • Write a script. Writing a script helps you stay on track. If reading the script takes longer than 10 minutes, consider breaking the lecture into smaller videos.   
  • Record. Provide an overview, present material, and recap key points.  
  • Caption. Add accurate captions to your video. Some programs provide automatic captioning. 
  • Upload. Save to your computer and/or to a cloud-based storage program.  
  • Embed. Add a link to the video to your course.  


Tips for Recording: 

  • Don’t try to be perfect. Mistakes make you human. 
  • Maintain an upbeat tone of voice.  
  • Discuss concepts in small, manageable chunks. 
  • Use frontal light. Record so your face is illuminated.  
  • Be aware of background and setting.  



Demonstration (recorded by phone) 

Virtual field trip (recorded by phone) 

Digital whiteboard demonstration (screencasting tool with whiteboard and pencil) 

Narrated slides (screencasting tool) 

Visually-oriented story (Adobe Spark video) 

Animated voice narration (Powtoon, Moovly) 


Additional Resources: 

Association of College and University Educators (2020). Plan and record engaging Microlectures. https://acue.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Section-5_PG_Record-Microlectures_CFIN.pdf  


Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R.-M. (2016). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical 

pedagogical tips (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass. 


Nilson, L. B., & Goodson, L. A. (2018). Online teaching at its best: Merging instructional design with teaching and learning research. Jossey-Bass. 


Scagnoli, N. (2012, November 1). 7 things you should know about microlectures. Educause 

Learning Initiative. https://library.educause.edu/resources/2012/11/7-things-you-should-knowabout-microlectures 


For more information, please see the OED Teaching Resources website or contact us here.