Lights, Camera, Action! 5 Ideas for Student-Created Video Assignments

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Here are 5 ideas for student-created videos. I hope these ideas inspire you to mix up your assignments and assessments to increase student engagement and improve learning. 


If you are tired of assigning (and grading) the same research papers semester after semester, maybe it’s time to mix things up and experiment with a different type of assignment. What if you encouraged your students to complete video assignments instead of writing another paper?

Why video?

Video is a 21st century skill.

Judith Dutill, a recent guest on my Lecture Breakers podcast, is an instructional designer, consultant, and co-creator of The Online Learning Toolkit. In episode 11, we talk about how to enhance online communication.

Judith mentioned that students’ knowledge of and comfort with communicating by video is a 21st century skill that we need to prepare them for.

This was such an “ah ha!” moment for me and for many of the listeners. Students are highly likely to participate in online interviews for jobs, conduct videoconference calls and meetings with team members, and give virtual presentations for clients around the world once they leave our classrooms and begin their careers.

We are doing our students a disservice by not giving them opportunities to practice using video tools while they are in our courses.


Video is another form of assessment.

Video-based assignments and projects encourage students to combine their creativity with their knowledge of the course material which gives us another way to assess learning.

Many educators want to move away from relying on multiple-choice exams and research papers in favor of offering a more creative outlet for students to demonstrate what they’ve learned and how they make sense of the world they live in.


One example: Twitter has become a place for many academics to share their work and connect with other scholars. I follow many higher education hashtags, two of which are #ungrading and #unessays.

One quick scroll through Twitter shows you just how creative students can be when asked to create something to illustrate how much they’ve learned. Students are creating quilts, paintings, songs, plays, websites, recipes, 3-dimensional models, posters, interpretive dances, games, children’s books, and more. Student-created videos can be another way to assess learning, encourage creativity, and help students explore topics in new ways.

Video can renew the instructor's enthusiasm.

One of the most challenging and difficult parts of teaching is grading. No matter how passionate you are and how much you enjoy teaching, you can get burned out and overwhelmed when you’re facing a pile of research papers to review.

Rubrics, checklists, standards, grading scales, feeling like you’ve read the same paper a dozen times. . . what if you actually looked forward to designing a new assignment and seeing what your students do with it?

Watching student-created videos might be more engaging and enjoyable for you than reading a stack of papers for yet another semester.

Stepping away from your typical assignment might renew your motivation and inspire you to bring a new energy to the classroom. And, maybe, just maybe, you might look forward to the process of grading these types of creative assignments!


5 Ideas for Student-Created Video Assignments

What types of video assignments can students create? Here are 5 ideas to spark your creativity and help you get started:

#1:  Instead of asking students to post a response in the discussion forum, ask them to record a video of their response to a question. These videos can be quick (1-2 minutes) and you can use a tool like Flipgrid to make it easy to organize and manage.

#2:  Challenge students to create their own mini-documentary. They could document a week in their life, reflect on how they spend their time, and analyze where they might be wasting time.

Or, they could create a mini-documentary featuring a week in the life of someone who is in the career they are interested in.

Document a day in the life of an ER nurse. Follow an attorney as she prepares for her next case. Go behind-the-scenes with a video game creator. Not only will your students learn something new, but you will too!

#3: Use videos for peer teaching. Ask students to narrate a process or procedure as they work through it on video.

You could assign topics across groups (or individual students) and encourage them to create a library of “how to” videos to teach each other how to solve the problem or perform a task/skill related to the course material.

#4: Ask students to conduct mock interviews and offer feedback from you and from other students. One student can play the role of the interviewer, and another student can be the job candidate.

Use these videos to prepare students for the job interview process, both as an interviewer and an interviewee.

#5: Create a YouTube channel with your students. Divide the channel into themes (history, science, outdoors, career, math, health, etc.) and give your students an audience to talk to (college students, employers, kids, teens, parents, etc.).

Example: Suppose you and your students decide to create a collection of videos to teach children about science. You might start by asking your students to listen to the questions kids ask and then create a fun kid-focused video to explain that concept.

Actual questions from my 4-year-old in case you and your students need some ideas:
Do all animals with eyes have bones? 
Why do some trees lose their leaves and others don’t?
How did all of the dinosaurs die?
Why does Saturn have rings and the Earth does not?
How big is the sun?
Why do bubbles pop?

Kids ask the best questions. Seriously.

I hope these ideas encourage you to think of new ways to use videos in your course to promote creativity, offer alternative forms of assessment, and challenge students to consider how they are connecting the course work to their world.


Resources and More Information:

Honeycutt, B. & Dutill, J. (November 2019). Enhancing Communication and Engagement in the Online Classroom. Episode 11. Lecture Breakers Podcast. Available online:

Stommel, J.  (March 11, 2018). How to Ungrade. Personal blog. Available online:

Denial, C. (April 26, 2019). The Unessay. Personal blog. Available online: