The purpose of this guide is to help you design effective instruction which incorporates digital media. It will help you develop activities that avoid many of the pitfalls that can make these projects frustrating for you and your students –  and ensure that the digital media projects you assign are educationally sound, interesting and motivating.

Designing and Implementing for the Classroom

Step One

Consider Time

For every minute of a completed project, several minutes will be required for production. These times include all relevant tasks from planning to publishing and assume familiarity with the necessary software.

Project Type

Time Requirement


3-5 minute video: interview/informal
(minimal post-production)

60 minutes

3 hours

3-5 minute video: remix/mash-up

60 minutes

3 hours

3-5 minute video: creative/high production
(special effects, green screen, field production)

4 hours

20 hours

10-12 minute podcast: interview/informal
(minimal post-production)

30 minutes

2 hours

10-12 minute podcast: creative/high production
(special effects, green screen, field production)

1 hour

3 hours

Step Two

Stay Organized

Some steps in audio and video production, such as file compression, take a certain fixed amount of time. Requiring students to produce deliverables throughout their project will mitigate situations where it is impossible to complete the necessary work by a deadline. Examples of deliverables are listed below. Consult with a Media Commons consultant to determine which apply to your assignment.



Time Due


key concepts, overall vision or approach, cast and roles, 3rd party media needed

early, before any production


dialogue, listed by speaker; can be rough (talking points) or verbose (to be read directly)

25% into project timeframe


sequential list of shots, sketches, direction

25-50% into project timeframe

Rough Cut1

unfinished audio/video edit

75% into project timeframe

1applies to either audio or video projects

2applies primarily to video projects

Step Three

Develop a Schedule



meet with MC consultant early in, or prior to, the semester to
discuss project and to schedule in-class workshop(s)


introduce project and rubric to students


form student teams


in-class workshop with MC consultant


outline and script due


storyboard due


production begins


rough cut due


video completed and published to Sites @ Penn State


peer to peer critique (as comments on Sites)

Best Practices

There are a few basic guidelines that have a place in every project you assign and will vastly improve your chances of success.

Talk to us before the semester.

We can help you design your activity – and we’ll be better prepared to help your students if we understand their needs.

Assign short projects.

A good rule-of-thumb is that final videos should be 3-5 minutes long, and podcasts should be at most 10-12 minutes.

Assign group projects.

Media authoring involves multiple roles that often work simultaneously. Working in teams will improve the overall quality of outcomes. We recommend teams of 2-3 students.

Require mid-project deliverables.

Audio and video production is very feasible with a little upfront planning. Last-minute work is usually of very poor quality, if it’s finished on-time at all.

Decide on publishing format(s).

Will students be posting their work to their Penn State blog, iTunes U or YouTube? Or would you prefer they put a video file on a flash drive?

Provide copyright information.

Students can’t put their work online or use it in their e-Portfolio if they’re appropriating 3rd-party media illegally.

Instructional Strategies

It is important to match the design of your activity with the level of thinking you hope to achieve from your students. Assigning a project that is either too complex or too simple may not yield the learning outcomes you expect. The following chart provides some basic examples matched with a range of target thinking skills.

Skill Level




putting together ideas or elements to develop an original idea or engage in creative thinking

Short Videos or Podcasts
choose an overarching theme and tie in several course concepts to demonstrate understanding of interrelationships between concepts and the ability to transfer knowledge to new situations

selecting, evaluating, and integrating 3rd-party media (as Fair Use) to create an original work


judging the value of ideas, materials and methods by developing and applying standards and criteria

Critique via Blogs
post videos or podcasts to a blog and elicit discussion around that media as blog comments; provide a list of required elements to include in comments


breaking information down into its component elements

Video Analysis
create a gallery of video clips illustrating a concept (ex. moments in a news broadcast which illustrate persuasive rhetoric)


using strategies, concepts, principles and theories in new situations

Podcast Interviews
identify experts, craft questions, and conduct in-the-field interviews

Role Playing

Produce a video presentation formally illustrating key concepts.


explaining ideas or concepts; comprehension of given information

Reflection Podcast
provide verbal feedback or interpretation on a topic to demonstrate basic understanding

Video Annotating
comment on existing media using various audio/video annotating tools


You should allocate a few points in your grading for organization, production value, and communication of message. The bulk of the points should be applied to the quality of content. Although production value may not seem important, paying attention to details will keep students focused and will improve learning outcomes.


Scoring Guide

Production Value
compositing, effects, etc.

5 – excellent editing, lighting, etc.
3 – shows understanding of quality production
1 – poor picture quality, sloppy, etc.

completion of deliverables

5 – completed documentation (outline, storyboards) establishing plan for project
3 – completed documentation (but it did not contribute significantly to project plan)
1 – did not turn in all deliverables

established purpose
vocal, written or visual expression of purpose

5 – establishes message and communicates purpose clearly
3 – message is present but confusing or disorganized
1 – unclear what this video is trying to communicate

Training Menu Header


The Appetizer Assignment
Basic Podcasting Assignment
Mobile Tools Workshop


Scholarly Storytelling
iMovie: Video Authoring Basics
GarageBand: Podcasting Basics
Video Production Tips
Engaging Résumés

À La Carte

Media Commons consultants can help you in several ways, depending on your needs:

Face-to-Face Consultations
just schedule an appointment

Phone Support
call the hotline for assistance

Screen Sharing
work together on screen at a distance

Online Help
help yourself to a library of tutorials

In-class Workshops
schedule for us to come to your class

Small-group Workshops
register for a pre-scheduled workshop


Student Spotlight Videos


Printing the Guide?

Instructor's Guide PDF