It might be tempting to add a video project into an existing course to provide students with the opportunity to work creatively and expand their skillset. Due to the democratizing of video hardware and software, this is becoming a much easier task to accomplish. However, there is one part of the video creation process that has not changed much during this rapid adoption of video technology—time investment. This is part two of our four part series discussing the parameters that require thought and design before a video project can be successfully added to a course. In part one of this series, we delved into the different software tools that students could use in video projects. For this, our second part, we will discuss how to determine the amount of time a student will spend on a given video project. In part three and four, we will discuss content guidelines and lay out the various hardware students can use for these projects.

As we discussed in part one, it is important for instructors to understand what they are asking of students before assigning a video project. Video editing and processing can take a lot of time to complete. Editors can often find themselves lost at an editing station for an afternoon and only complete a small portion of a video. During productions, it is common to have single scenes take an entire day to record. While those are perhaps on the extreme end of student productions, it is important to realize that video production takes effort and time to execute properly and is difficult to rush. For the purposes of this discussion, the types of videos students can produce are broken down into three categories. The first, and least time intensive, will be called Live Recordings, where the students submit nearly raw footage. The second will be called Lightly Edited pieces, which generally means a few edits, perhaps some music and still images. The third will be called Heavily Edited pieces, which are sophisticated pieces which contain many edits. Heavily Edited pieces are similar to the kinds of shorts you may see at Lightworks, the Screen Arts and Cultures end of semester festival.

Let’s start with the bad news. Heavily edited pieces require a large commitment on the part of the students and will often lead to an unbalanced work dynamic amongst the students in the groups. Watch this example of a heavily edited project for an American Cultures class. I chose this as an example because it is seemingly an easy project but took many hours to accomplish. Filming the interviews took only a few hours, but there were easily eight to ten hours spent prior to that day preparing questions, gathering equipment, and finding locations and interview subjects. After recording, the editing process took about twenty to thirty hours to complete this seven minute video, in large part because the interviews had to be carefully edited to run together smoothly. This is the equivalent to how long a research paper takes to write in terms of time commitment and would have required more time had the group working on this project not had someone knowledgeable about the subject. It is important to consider this when deciding the weight of the project’s grade and the amount of time given to students to finish the assignment. It is also important to consider how much a particular group may rely on those that have experience, and build in safeguards to prevent the work from being placed directly into one student’s lap.

Lightly edited pieces are more easily accomplished; however, without some constraints and guidelines on content, it is easy for a project to evolve into a heavily edited project. Properly designed, lightly edited projects, such as this example, completed by high school students, take significantly less time to plan, shoot, and edit. Editing can be done in a matter of hours instead of days and can be accomplished successfully by a wider range of students. Because the length of the piece is generally shorter and contains fewer edits, the preparation shrinks to just a few hours. The recording process is also reduced due to longer times between cuts, and the editing becomes less complicated. This would be the equivalent of a short reflective paper in terms of time commitment.

The final type of project to consider is the Live Recording, where students record themselves using screen capture tools or in a single take delivering a presentation or scripted performance. The beauty of this decision is that it places most of the work on the preparation and content and less on the act of editing. Students can use a space like the Videocasting Studio at ISS or the Personal Studio at Groundworks to record these videos, requiring very little expertise and no editing skills. As well, students have access to CaptureSpace in the My Media section of Canvas, which allows them to upload videos recorded using their screens and webcam directly to Canvas. While choosing this option requires the least amount of time from students in terms of editing, it also gives them the least amount of exposure to media creation tools. If that is a pedagogical goal of the assignment, this may not be the right choice for the assignment.

When designing a video project, it is important to consider how much time students should be investing into it, the level of skill they will need to acquire before successfully completing it, and how to balance those two things against the weight of the project’s grade and the learning objectives of the assignment. If you would like more information about how these choices affect student outcomes, or would like to speak to an instructional consultant before making a choice, contact us at or 734.615.0099.