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Create a Welcome Video for Online Courses

Anytime I’m meeting with a faculty member to discuss a new online course, I almost always end our first conversation the same way:

“Oh, and we’ll want to create an intro video for the course, and I think you should be on camera.”

Most faculty react unfavorably, but they do eventually come around to the idea. Why? There’s several reasons, but one of the key concepts is that you want students to see that you’re a real person, and you’re not perfect, but you are authentic.

In instructional design and communication, we refer to this concept as your teacher immediacy. It’s defined as behaviors that help students and faculty connect. In face-to-face courses, it’s much easier to work on some of these strategies, but in online courses, it’s a little bit more challenging.

Tips for a Good Intro Video

Now that I’ve convinced you that an intro video is a must for online courses, here are a few things to remember. These tips were compiled by instructional designers at the University of Toledo.

What is the purpose of your intro video?

  • Capture attention
  • Build excitement
  • Dispel fears or uncertainty
  • Visually demonstrate the content relevance

Just like the first day in a face-to-face class sets the tone for the semester, so does your intro video. But if you’re afraid you’ll turn on the camera and start staring blankly into the lens, here’s a basic outline you can follow:

  1. Welcome and self-introduction
  2. Purpose and structure of the class
  3. Class expectations
  4. What to do next to get started in the course

Now that you’re getting excited about intro videos, let’s look at a few examples from faculty in our college!

Example Videos

MATH 1332 Contemporary Mathematics

Dr. Susan Abernathy does an excellent job of showing enthusiasm and creating interest in her course. She follows the format listed above perfectly and does it all in fewer than 2 minutes. Also, I have to point out her rock star status and tell you that she did this video in just one take!

BIOL 1408 Human Biology Lab

Ms. Carla Ebeling does a great job emphasizing how students can contact her and communicate with her. She also has a thorough explanation about the technology that will be used in the course and how to access it. Because her course was taught over the summer, she outlines the structure and the rigor that students can expect, which really helps set her students up for success.

MATH 6300 Survey of the History of Mathematics

And how could I not share this video that openly mocks me as the instructional designer?

I love how Dr. Andrew Siefker demonstrates his sense of humor and even draws on the talents of other faculty in his department. (If you watch closely you’ll see cameos from Ms. Codi Jaynes and Mr. Wayne Humphrey.) And while his video is a little longer than I would recommend, Dr. Siefker does a great job of showcasing his passion for the subject.

I love watching a good intro video, so if you want to share one you’ve seen, or you need help putting together your own video, contact me. I’m happy to help!

Jayna Phinney
Jayna Phinney

Jayna Phinney is the Instructional Technology Specialist for the ASU College of Science and Engineering. Contact her at or 325-486-6264.


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