Videos add personality and depth to online public affairs classes

Kim Young
Kim Young, PhD, is a senior lecturer for the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

Appearing on camera was decidedly outside of Kim Young’s comfort zone before she started teaching online. 

“I’m part of a generation that doesn’t take a lot of selfies,” joked Young, a senior lecturer at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs who teaches courses in the online Masters of Public Administration and Leadership program. 

Young’s students, however, would never know how apprehensive she used to be about the medium  — especially not after seeing her whale on the drums in one of her weekly introduction videos. 

Instructor presence is an important aspect of online courses,” Young said. “Just because I was never meeting my students in person, I didn’t want to be a stranger to them.” 

One semester working with distance education staff from the Office of Distance Education and eLearning (ODEE) gave Young the confidence she needed to add flair and meaning to her courses with video. 

Scott Nelson, ODEE instructional design video coordinator, explained to Young that her videos didn’t need to be as polished and professional as she imagined. Authenticity is far more important.

“I’d set the bar for myself pretty high,” Young said. “Scott helped me understand that … what the students want from you is not something that’s perfectly polished. It can be interesting when a cat walks across the screen or something unexpected happens in the video.”

Nelson also pointed out that Young would be modeling for her students the types of video submissions she was looking for. “When we ask students to produce their own videos, we’re not perpetuating this idea that it has to be perfect,” Young said. “There’s a very strong trust aspect between students and instructors, and you can build and facilitate that by being yourself.” 

Letting go of that perfectionism allowed Young to be creative when recording her weekly check-in videos, including the one she delivered while sitting behind a drum kit.

“Instructor presence is an important aspect of online courses. Just because I was never meeting my students in person, I didn’t want to be a stranger to them.” 
— Kim Young

“And then finally, if you were wondering if I’m going to play these drums, the answer is yes, I will,” Young says as she wraps up the video, before launching into a riff (“The one drum riff that I know,” Young said). 

That video in particular was a breakthrough for Young. “The students responded well to it. They liked having something different, something a little lighter,” she said. “I wasn’t in front of a chalkboard or in my office.” 

Soon after, Young started filming weekly intro videos for her courses in different locations around Glenn College’s Page Hall, featuring various materials from the school’s John H. Glenn Archives. 

“I would tell the students something about the artifact that was there and then make a connection in some way to the course content for the week,” Young said. “So for our online students who never get to come to our academic home in Page Hall, they kind of have a sense of what the building is like.” 

Those intro videos were initially recorded with ODEE’s DIY video kit, which can be checked out to instructors upon request. Young and Glenn College both eventually purchased similar recording equipment. 

Looking back, Young wishes she could send herself reassurance and the advice to trust ODEE’s instructional design staff.  

I have received remarkable guidance and support from so many people at ODEE, everyone from camera operators to senior instructional designers,” Young said. “I am a complete convert. … Video can present a different side of us and make it easier to connect with our students.”

Is your college or department considering an online program? Contact ODEE for help navigating the approval process and assistance from our expert instructional design team.