Though the COVID-19 lockdown has been awful in every way, there has been some room for silver linings. You may have picked up a new hobby, re-committed to a New Year’s resolution, or developed a new outlook. Regardless, all that time you could have spent doing far more enjoyable things like going to restaurants or bars can be spent doing productive things instead (🤢), like learning.
Which brings us to Khan Academy. Everyone’s favorite e-learning service has a highly distinctive style of educational video, and it can be oddly soothing. Who doesn’t love a teacher that makes them comfortable?
But there’s a lot that goes into the Khan Academy formula, so if you want to try it out for yourself, there are some tricks you should learn. Here’s a basic rundown of the 5 main things you should keep in mind:
- The chalkboard effect
- “Hand-written” text
- You can stitch together several takes
- Always write a script
- You’re the teacher
1. The chalkboard effect
This is probably the first thing that pops into your mind when thinking about the Khan Academy video editing style. The most distinctive element of their videos is the real-time screen drawing, like the video itself is a digital chalkboard. We’re so used to seeing instruction written on chalkboards and whiteboards, it’s no surprise that this makes Khan Academy’s videos effective.
You might think you need some fancy tool in order to make a similar style of video, but you have several free options at your disposal, no matter what kind of device you’re using. Owning your own Smart Board is optimal, of course, but that’s the kind of luxury that most people simply can’t afford. Instead, you can use your tablet, computer, or even your phone to record your whiteboard presentation like Khan Academy does. If you’re using an iPad, Liveboard and IPEVO Whiteboard work really well; for computers, you can use the ExplainEverything whiteboard app. And even if you’re working with only a phone, the Microsoft Whiteboard and Explain Everything Whiteboard app work perfectly.
Here's a look at the Explain Everything online whiteboard app, my favorite one to use for Khan Academy-style videos. It even lets you record video & audio in real-time.
TIP: If you’re working on an iPhone, it’s super simple to record your video in one take: just start a voice recording, start a screen recording, and go over your Khan Academy-style lesson. Both recordings can keep running at the same time, and you can simply put the audio & video together in the Kapwing Studio.
2. “Hand-written” text
You don’t always need to make a live recording in order to emulate the Khan Academy style, and if you’re not a professional educator, it might actually be best to avoid live teaching videos. Instead, you can achieve a similar effect by typing and animating text beforehand with a handwritten-style font.
It might not give your videos quite the handwritten charm of Khan Academy’s content, but typed text is completely fine for a relaxed, personal educational presentation. Plus, if you’re using a web-based editor like Kapwing, it’s really simple to import your own custom fonts from anywhere on the internet. This way, you can use any handwriting-style font you want, not just the common ones that people will recognize.
3. You can stitch together several takes
This is a really important point to make: your videos don’t need to be done in one take, or recorded live. While it might seem like a lot of work to record several sections or versions and piece them together into a seamless video during your editing process, it can actually save a ton of time in the long run.
If you’ve ever tried putting instructional videos together, you know that it can be massively difficult to record a usable shot in just one take. As you get more experienced, you’ll be able to complete high-level, efficient instructional videos in just a couple takes, but until then it’s good to split your video into as many segments as you need – a free, web-based video editor like Kapwing is a good place to assemble your content quickly.
4. Always write a script
If you’re an experienced teacher, you might be pretty good at explaining concepts off the cuff. However, instructional videos need to be a lot shorter than full class sessions, so even the most experienced educators do best to rely at least somewhat on a pre-written script – think of it as a finely detailed lesson plan!
You don't even need to read from your script when you record. It can be tough to follow your script while recording a video, but if you do some dry runs beforehand, you should get the hang of it. Your video doesn’t need to be tightly scripted, but for the sake of clarity and efficiency, it’s vital to have an existing text document to refer to.
5. You’re the teacher
This is more of a personal affirmation than a specific piece of advice. Think of your favorite teachers from your school years – what made them so special? Was it their handwriting & chalkboard formatting? Or was it their personality, experience, humor, and anecdotes?
I’m betting it wasn’t their handwriting and organizational skills. If you want to teach people effectively, you have to use everything you have to offer. This means teaching from experience, teaching with personality, and teaching with your own distinctive character. This can be something as little as a phrase you think works well, or a metaphor that you find fitting. But as long as you bring your whole self to your videos, your viewers will want to stick around.
TEACHERS: Don't use YouTube – embed instead
Regardless of the grade level of your students, it's a good idea to keep your instructional content apart from the rest of the internet, so students can access it without distraction or interference. The best way to do this is to store your video files somewhere other than YouTube that is just as easy to access. I recommend using Kapwing to give your students immediate access using a simple URL where they can view your content and even download the videos for themselves. And if you are using a particular e-learning site, you can even embed Kapwing videos directly using HTML.
Tag us @KapwingApp whenever you share your content on social media– we love to see what our creators are passionate about! And be sure to subscribe to the Kapwing Resources page – we’re constantly writing new tutorial and features to help you make the most out of Kapwing.
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