Turning Boring Presentations Into Creative Video Productions

Lance Stilp, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

Quick guide

  • Keywords: Presentation, technology, video, speaking
  • Learner English level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Learner maturity: University
  • Preparation time: 2 hours
  • Activity time: Three 20 minute sessions and three full 60 minute class periods
  • Materials: Computers, smart-phones (or video cameras), video editing software, peer comment handouts, grading rubrics

This is a proposal for a video alternative to the final presentations that many English courses require at the university level. Students create instructional videos using the smartphones that many of them already have. In this process, they will also experiment with video editing software, working either individually or in pairs. The final videos are shown on the last day of class and receive peer-feedback.


Step 1: Prepare three 20 minute discussion lessons to review course objectives. Make discussion questions that engage students in the content being assessed. Grammar focused classrooms tend to work well for making video presentations. For example, reviewing modals or commands would prepare students to create instructional videos.

Step 2: Prepare tutorial videos or lessons on how to shoot video (most students already will know how) and how to edit video (most students will not yet know). There are many free tutorials for video editing available on YouTube, or you can make your own using screencast software that lets you take videos of your computer screen (See Appendix A for free tutorial and screencast software options).

Step 3: Create an example presentation script or video. Students should understand the expectations and requirements for their final presentation based on this example (See Appendix B).

Step 4: Reserve a room that can play student videos for the final lesson of the course. For peer-feedback, create handouts for students to fill with information and comments (See Appendix D).


Step 1: For days 1-3, spend 20 minutes showing an example how-to video and doing the discussion questions in class. The goal of the discussion questions is to engage in target language production, which students will need to do when making the final instructional videos.

Step 2: On day 4, students make pairs and brainstorm ideas for an activity they wish to explain. Video lengths should be 3-4 minutes for individuals or 6-8 minutes for pairs. Pairs will need topic guidance to ensure each student is involved equally.

Step 3: One week before video showings, show students how to edit video, or provide them with tutorials online. Students draft scripts using target level grammar and vocabulary and turn them in. 

Step 4: Correct and return students’ drafts with comments and suggestions. Students shoot and edit their videos outside of class and submit them on USB flash drives. Make sure students’ videos are in a format that can be viewed in class. Avoid submitting video through social networking sites or file sharing applications due to potential privacy issues.

Step 5: On the final day, play the videos and have students fill out worksheets (Appendix D). After all the videos are shown, students mingle with their classmates and give feedback. The compliment sandwich works well (one positive comment, followed by something they need to work on, and ending again with a general positive comment). Grade projects based on the course presentation criteria (See Appendix C).


Using technology serves as an important compliment in language learning and promotes technology skills that students can take out into their future careers. More teachers are requiring the use of PowerPoint presentations, but these presentations can become overused, boring, and ineffective for achieving classroom goals. On top of that, most students would much prefer to make videos, rather than final PowerPoint presentations. Turning a presentation into a video is a simple and fun way to assess student abilities and the overall efficacy of a university course. 


The appendix is available below.