We carried out interviews about Sesame Street, MTV Shuga, and spoke with leaders in education around the world. Here’s what we found – and to prove our point, we had a furry “Expert” come and show us how it’s done… (You can read what he told us – or you can watch below!)

Top tips for making a good educational video:

  • Up first and most important – Test, test, test! Without knowing how your content is being received, you won’t know if it’s working. You can find this out through viewing data – seeing how many people are watching, sharing, liking, subscribing etc. In Sesame Street the producers had selected children who they surveyed, and in MTV Shuga they designed an evaluation from the outset. With online courses, if you design them right, you can test out what is working at all times, with all your participants. 
  • Be flexible. Once you have your viewing data, be ready to adapt your show using this new information. Sesame Street and MTV Shuga used the findings of their testing to adapt the series. If you think about an eLearning course, can you use the findings of one part of the course to influence the production of the next part or of the update to the course?
  • Production values matter. You are competing for people’s attention with the noisy internet. With online learning, people are using the same screens to watch an online course as they would for a TV series. If you were teaching a lesson in a theatre immediately after the audience had watched a musical showcase, you might give a bit more attention to your own presentation. The same approach should be taken here. You don’t have to compete with these shows, but you should make an effort
  • Make your show relatable. A show that uses characters that your audience can relate to will make it that much more believable and therefore effective. Put another way, the messenger matters – if you are making a professional development course for a specific audience, then try to get those people in the video.
  • Be authentic. Edutainment shows know what they are about – they aren’t lectures. Once the rules have been set for Sesame Street and MTV Shuga, they needed to be kept to. Similarly, thinking about the tone and approach of your series – what it is, but also what it isn’t – will help you keep authentic.
  • Accompanying materials. Don’t think of the videos as the only material. Sesame Street and MTV Shuga were accompanied by lots of supporting material. In the same way, video and films are just part of the learning design. The best way is to think of these as a complement to teaching, rather than a replacement. For more on this, we have an interview with Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman on Active Learning.

You can watch the full length film below. To find out more about how you can use these lessons with your online learning, feel free to get in touch.