You Got This: Easy Video Creation Tools for Online Courses

September 16, 2015

If you’re new to elearning, the idea of creating videos for your courses may be intimidating. After all, you may be an instructor, brand manager or marketing director, not a videographer or a programmer. If universities like Harvard and Duke pour millions of dollars into in-house video studios for their online courses, how are you going to create effective videos for your online training?  

Fortunately, the Internet gains new innovative and easy-to-use video creation tools every day. Here’s a look at some of the recent developments.

Mobile editing suites

A mobile editing suite is ideal for producing the short, slick videos needed for online courses.

Related reading: Storyboarding for Online Learning: The What, Why and How

These allow you to shoot, edit and post video from your mobile device, while adding still photos and audio tracks. Some of the products on the market include WeVideo, which offers a limited free service, to Videolicious, a paid service.

WeVideo uses a storyboard format where you drag and drop clips and stills into an editor to build your final video. Videolicious allows you to choose shots from a library and stitch a video together while you’re recording a voiceover track.

Not all editing suites are mobile. A variety of video editors can be used on a computer rather than a phone, but mobile editing suites are good for teachers because with a smartphone they can capture both video and still photos in a way a laptop cannot. A mobile editing program installed on the same device can use both the camera and the device’s photo library.


Some lessons do not require a full video. You may simply need to use a slide presentation, as you would in class. Luckily, if you’re using a slide app like PowerPoint, you already have the ability to record narration for your slideshow and to export the slideshow as a video.

Related reading: Beginner Tips for Creating Engaging Online Learning Videos

Sometimes, all you need for a lesson is to draw a simple picture. Doodlecast Pro uses your iPad as a whiteboard, recording your voice as you draw a picture on the tablet. Several apps on the market allow you to do the same thing. Board Cam Pro, Screen Chomp and Educreations also allow you to make dynamic presentations from your tablet.


If you need to show learners how to use some software or go through a registration process, you can create a screencast that pairs narration with a recording of what’s happening on your computer. Screencasts are ideal for:

  • showing customers the features of your software.

  • walking employees through a new learning management system.

  • showing channel partners your latest product upgrades.

Mac users can create screencasts with Quicktime, a basic program that is pre-installed. If you use Windows or want more features, check out some free web-based screencasting services, like Screencast-O-Matic.

Or you can shell out for a high-quality, feature-rich program like Camtasia, Screenflow, Microsoft Expression Encoder and Tapes. These allow you to insert visual effects, use a green screen to insert yourself into the screencast or animate content. These can be great if you plan to record yourself conducting your traditional live training and using that as the source material for elearning.

Using video made by other people

Occasionally, an instructor might need to use someone else’s video as an example in a lesson. This can be tricky, because, in many cases, intellectual property laws do not allow you to include the average YouTube video in a commercial course.

There are some video sites that offer Creative Commons libraries, however. Creative Commons licenses give a user permission to use a piece of media in their own work. (Read the licenses carefully, as some do not allow commercial use.)

It may take a while to sift through all the offerings, and you may be unlikely to find public domain instructional content that is on-point for your needs, but with some imagination you’ll find clips that supports your course, often by making it more entertaining.

Probably the largest, most navigable library of Creative Commons videos exists at Vimeo. You can also find public domain videos at The Public Domain Project, The Internet Archive and the National Archives.

Video tools for every skill level

The Internet offers hundreds of tools to enhance your course content. Some sites create animations for videos, some allow you to mix sound online, while others create video mash-ups.

Video creation can be as simple or as complex as you wish, but no matter your skill level, you can create professional videos for your course. All you need to flip your classroom is the Internet, a device with a camera, and simple, readily-available (and in some cases, free) software.



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