Use Video to Connect With Your Students

Written by Mishiara Baker & Mickey Smith
January 12, 2018 • 2 minute read


In course introduction videos, instructors can establish a social presence with their students, anchor course content, and point out critical information and expectations for their course.

A good course introduction video, like the one above with Davis Yee on Tax Law, has several elements–most notably, Professor Yee addresses his students directly, inviting them to make a personal connection. These videos engage students socially and inform them about your personality and teaching style.

Instructor video introductions are an excellent opportunity to establish rapport and foster interest in the curriculum before the class begins for the term.

Tell students about the course, but also tell them about yourself and your experience, credentials, and areas of interest so they can get to know you better and come to trust you as an adept and knowledgeable guide. Sharing your personal interest in what you are teaching can generate a point of connection with your students and may present a new angle on the content that could pique their interest and invite deeper engagement in study.

Video intros should be general to preserve their relevance. Specific details about the course schedule or assignments, for example, should be detailed in your course syllabus or on your Canvas course modules.

Effective video introductions are 1-3 minutes in length, directly address students by looking straight into the camera, and follow self-recording guidelines – diffuse lighting, quiet locations, etc.

Elements you might include in your outline or script are:

  • Welcoming students to the course
  • A brief introduction or mini-biography by the instructor
  • Describe what students will learn in the class
  • Tell students why the content should be of interest to them
  • Give specifics on how to be successful in this course: Your expectations; specifics needs or cautions concerning timely submission of assignments and activities; and technology needs
  • Provide your contact information, including availability, preferred methods of communication, and expected response times (e.g., email-free nights and weekends)
  • In conclusion: Be enthusiastic and invite students to learn with you

A video introduction is viewed prior to the first course session, and should set students' expectations for a course along with generating readiness to learn. Let students know how this course content is relevant to them; give them a reason to be intellectually present and direct their attention to any specifics that will help students succeed in your course.

In brief: let students know what's in it for them and what they need to look out for so they are both motivated and prepared for any unique requirements. Emphasizing your availability and ensuring your accessibility (through office hours and methods of communication) will help set students expectations. Let students know how to find support when and if they need it.

Here are some examples of course introductory videos. Each does not follow every suggestion as listed above, but at a minimum, they are socially engaging welcomes and provide general overviews of course content. 

Intro to Tax Law

Davis Yee, an adjunct professor in the School of Law, teaches courses on tax law.

Click here to view this video in a new window.

Intro to Community-Based Participatory Research

Dr. Elizabeth Marlow, an adjunct professor in the School of Nursing and Health Professions, teaches courses on community-based participatory research for the Master of Public Health program.

Click here to view this video in a new window.

Intro to Environmental Health

Dr. Barbara Sattler, a professor in the School of Nursing and Health Professions, teaches courses on the intersections of environmental health and nursing for the Master of Public Health program.

Click here to view this video in a new window.

There are various educational technologies that can help you create introduction videos for your courses, whether they are taking place online or face-to-face. The University of San Francisco provides access to Echo360, a lecture capture software and active learning platform that integrates with Canvas. To learn more, visit myUSF or email the Echo360 team.

USF also provides access to Ensemble, a streaming video repository that you can upload your own videos to with Media Services. Visit the ITT resource page to learn more.

Whether you don’t know where to start or have a particular educational technology in mind, we are here to help! To learn how to apply educational technologies to your course, request an Instructional Design consultation. Contact Instructional Technologies & Training to schedule a training session and access self-guided training materials.



  • Effects of segmentation and pacing on procedural learning by video (Biard, Cojean, & Jamet, 2017, Computers in Human Behavior)
  • The Signaling (or Cueing) Principle in Multimedia Learning (van Gog, 2014, in The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning)

Request Instructional Design Workshops
Our Instructional Designers offer a one-hour workshop (in person or via Zoom) on effectively using multimedia in your course. Explore different types of multimedia and how they can enhance students' mastery of course topics. 

For more information, email the Instructional Design team.