Bumper Videos & Microlectures

Humanizing elements for online courses.

Send the cue, “I am here to help you learn.”

Video is a powerful medium for cultivating your warm human presence online, as well as creating accessible, byte-sized learning chunks that support your students’ learning rhythms. Unlike classroom instruction, video puts students in the driver seat, allowing them the option to watch and rewind as much as they need without the shame of raising one’s hand and asking, “Um, could you say that again?”

Video Workflow

Before you get started with creating your own videos, however, you need to get your arms around a few basic building blocks. The process consists of four steps: Record, Host, Caption, and Embed. If you are new to video, I promise, this is not as complicated as it may seem. Set some time aside to view the guide below to get familiar with these steps and to identify the tools you’ll use to complete your first video.

Bumper Videos

Bumper videos are 2-3 minute, visually oriented videos that are designed to either preview a topic or demystify a sticky concept. They incorporate visual elements like icons and images and are set to the narration of your voice. Yes, you can make cameo appearances too, but they are not intended to be “talking head” videos. Bumper videos are a great foray into video creation because they are low stake. A course may include a series of bumper videos including a course overview video introducing students to major course concepts and one to open each module, showcasing a tricky concept that you know has a tendency to stump students.

Here are a few examples of bumper videos. These are all created with our favorite digital storytelling tool, Adobe Spark, which is free! If your college has a site license for Adobe, you can also log in using your institutional credentials.

The Writing Process: Brainstorming, by Colleen Harmon, Cuesta College

Abnormal Psychology, by Katie Conklin, West Hills College Lamoore

What’s a bit? by Brent Wedge, Modesto College

The Triangular Trade, by Matt Mooney, Santa Barbara Community College


Microlectures are brief (aim for 5-7 minute) instructional videos that are designed to achieve specific objectives. The skills your students acquire in your microlectures should build upon previous videos. An effective series of microlecture videos should be developed in-hand with backwards course design. That means intentionally outlining what you expect your students to know by the end of the course and mapping those goals to module objectives. The modules serve as chunks that are each aligned with their own smaller objectives. These smaller module-level objectives should align with your microlectures.

Design: How to make a block print with a potato by Carolyn Brown, Foothill College

Calculus: Comparing Limit and Function Values by Sarah Williams, Foothill College

How to design your online course by Michelle Pacansky-Brock

How to spot a Rococo painting by Cara Smulevitz, San Diego Mesa College