“The promise of every learning video: engage the learner to improve knowledge, skills, and/or behaviors.”

I’m on a mission to help people make and use video for learning purposes. Today’s installment is a fundamental dive into learning video production skills: part two of Video for Learning Fundamentals. So let’s get to it!

Video Used to Be Only Professional

Times have changed! Back in the day, MTV featured videos like  “Word Up!” by Cameo and “You Give Love A Bad Name” by Bon Jovi. In 1986 video meant something completely different than it does now. Video was made by professionals in Los Angeles and New York. Videos only appeared on television or in a theater.  They weren’t easily homemade. I never saw a single person make a video before high school. 


It took me days to record and cut a video using multiple VCRs connected together. Way before YouTube, my pal Sean and I made a video for our Communications class. We presented it, people laughed, the teacher responded positively, and that was it! No sharing, no posting, nothing! The lifecycle of a video back then was very short.

I don’t even know how we thought to connect the VCRs together to make the edits. There was no Google! It must have been a mix of Instructor-Led Training (Teaching) and some innate expertise by Sean. Fortunately, he had access to more resources than I did growing up. I only knew how to tell a story, honed by hours and hours of making things up to get people to laugh. I had never even held a video camera before this high school project. 

My uncle had a big bulky shoulder-mounted camera that he used to record weddings. The rich banker that lived up the street had one that he’d break out on special occasions. I rarely saw a personal video camera. There was no way to learn about it in my home. Learning video production skills? Hah! The digital revolution was just beginning. The Apple IIe was just starting to grab my attention away from my rad collection of Atari 2600 cartridges.  

Everyone is a Creator

In 2020, music videos are barely a thing. YouTube has changed the world forever by creating a new form of communication. Justin Bieber went straight to stardom from home videos posted by his mom. Here is the homemade video that launched him. Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg better known as PewDiePie has amassed over 100 million subscribers by making videos of himself commenting on video games while playing them. Pewd’s first video, Minecraft Multiplayer Fun, featured his commentary playing Minecraft. Neither Bieber or PewDiePie had formal training in video production, though both are talented in so many other ways. My main point is this: making video no longer requires a degree or an on-call team of professionals in New York and L.A. Learning video production skills can be learned online! 


Hold on! Wait a minute!

(Reader pauses to prepare for refocusing) 

Beebs and Pewdy are entertainers! This is important to remember as I use the words video production. Video production is not a home video. As their careers grew, so did their video production skills. They used a professional process. Also, I’m not in the entertainment business. I make video for learning. So, let’s climb out of the YouTube rabbit hole and focus on video production skills for learning! 

Video for Learning is Different

Video for learning should be viewed differently than the YouTube content creators that entertain. We can be inspired by them and even look to them for storytelling inspiration, but we must remember that video for learning is different because its goal is to improve the knowledge, skills, and behaviors of the viewer (learner). Learning video is not trying to generate ad revenue, at least not yet, and not on a Google-like scale. Learning video production skills requires more than just homemade, informal, unplanned, recordings. 


We need to be kind to ourselves and learn this new discipline. It takes practice to build these skills. I even went back to school for a third degree. It takes time and effort! Technology has outpaced most people’s skills. Pointedly, video production skills have not kept pace with the popularity of video. The digital revolution has put cameras in most people’s pockets. However, I argue that most people lack the skills required to use the new medium – especially for learning. 

If you are trying to make a video for learning, then it’s critical that you immerse yourself in the process and clearly distinguish entertainment from learning. This will also help you learn where video fits within an eLearning course creation process too. Anyone with a smartphone can make a video right now, but it doesn’t mean they should – especially for professional learning projects. 

The unprofessional looking and sounding video will distract the learner. Unedited or poorly constructed sequences can also drive the learner away. Following an organized video production process is the way to produce professional learning videos that keep people engaged and learning! 

Let’s look at how video production is defined: 

Video Production” is reserved only for content creation that is taken through all phases of production (Pre-production, Production, and Post-production) and created with a specific audience in mind. A person filming a concert, or their child’s band recital with a smartphone or video camera for the sole purpose of capturing the memory would fall under the category of “home video” not video production. (wiki)

Traditionalists argue there are only three phases: pre-production, production, and post-production.

Superstars making marketing/advertising/entertainment videos recognize five phases: development, followed by the “pre-pro-post” stages, and then distribution.

When producing video for learning, we need to modify the five-phase production process so it focuses on the promise of learning video while fitting nicely into a course creation process. Let’s agree to change the development phase to the design phase. 

Table that shows the good better best description of the 5 phases of video production for learning

Warning: Learning and Development terminology ahead! 

The ADDIE model is a common process used by trainers and instructional designers. By merging the Analysis (A) and Design (D) into the phases of video production as the Design phase, we immediately focus video production on learning and not marketing/advertising/entertainment.

A quick note on ADDIE: Instructional Designers have used the ADDIE method since the 1970s. ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. If you’d like to learn more about ADDIE, here are a few helpful links: 

ADDIE Training Model: What Is It and How Can You Use It?Aris Apostolopoulos on the Talent LMS blog

ADDIE Model – from instructional design.org via Wikipedia

ADDIE: 5 Steps To Effective Training CoursesEoghan Quigley on the LearnUpon blog

If you are ready to join me in merging ADDIE and video production, please consider reading my case for Five Phases of Video Production For Learning.


Video is no longer made solely by professionals with film degrees and large budgets. Almost anyone can make a video, but it’s important to distinguish the home video from those made through a production process. We need to increase our video production skills to keep up with the availability of technology.  Video for learning should not be homemade. If it’s informal, there needs to be a plan. By using a five-phase video production process that incorporates instructional design into phase one, you can make sure to deliver on the promise of learning video: to engage the learner in improving knowledge, skills, and/or behaviors. 

When you’re making a video for learning, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the options available. This is where following the video production process FOR LEARNING is extremely helpful. 

Next up, I’ll dive even deeper into the five phases of video production for learning. Following these phases as if they were a handy step-by-step guide will help eliminate some of the intimidation you may feel at the start of your video projects.

Join my feedback loop

What do you think of my suggestion to modify the video production process for learning? 

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I love feedback loops. As Elon Musk said, “I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”




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