Use Just-in-Time Video to Give Online Classes a Personal Touch

Just after the start of this most recent quarter, an instructor contacted me about getting his video to play in our learning management system. When I looked at the link he included, my first two thoughts were “what a great idea!” and “why don’t we do this for every online class?”

Jeff Grinvalds had made an intro video for his online-only composition students.

It’s a fairly quick video—less than six minutes—but it provides a lot of information. Through this simple YouTube capture, Jeff gives his students a personal touch, establishing himself as the instructor and breaking down any “distance discomfort” with receiving instruction from somebody you’ve never even seen before. Through what he says (not just how he says it), Jeff’s video also serves as an easy-to-understand syllabus for the course, explaining how it’s structured and giving clear expectations. It’s a great addition to the first day of an online class, and I think it should be done by more instructors.

Here’s another reason I like it: Jeff made it himself, from his home, for free and in not much time, using easy software and the built-in webcam in his computer.

After recording, he loaded the video into iMovie, a program he had on his desktop Mac (also available for iPad) and added his “lower-thirds”—the captions with his name and other details. He then uploaded it to YouTube right from iMovie and then embedded the YouTube video into ANGEL.

Jeff says that the simple intro video has been a big success in his online classes. Here’s what he had to say, in an email, after I asked him what motivated him to take this time to give his course such a personal touch:

“Where did the idea come from? I was just thinking about myself as a student in a class like this — it would be good to hear something from the instructor. I have been doing tutorial videos also to show students how to do things … and students really like it. On final class surveys, the videos are one of the things they usually point to as something they remember as something helpful for them.”

Want to get started? Here’s my guide to getting the YouTube video into ANGEL. (Click images for a larger view.)

1) To embed a YouTube video in a page, first go to the page settings. The default opening here is the WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get) editor, but to add embed code, you’ll need to access source view, or the actual HTML that makes up what you see. You’ll access this view by clicking on the icon next to the spell check. (I like to toggle to the larger view by clicking the window icon on the upper left.)

Add a YouTube video to an ANGEL page

Add a YouTube video to an ANGEL page

Here’s what you see in WYSIWYG mode:


Here’s the source code view for the same text:


2) To embed, go to your YouTube link and copy the embed code from the “Share” tab, as shown below. Before you copy, you can use YouTube’s options to auto-generate different versions of the code, including changing the video’s size. For educational videos like this one, I like to turn off suggested videos and turn on privacy-enhanced mode.

Video embed

3) After you’ve copied, go back to ANGEL. With your source view on, you’ll just paste the code where you want the video to appear.

In this example, I’ve added a
code after your intro text. This just adds a space. ANGEL will automatically add

tags that also create space, so it may or may not be needed.

Here’s what it looks like:


4) It is a good idea to include a link and/or URL when you do this, just in case the embed doesn’t load for a student. In this example, it looks like you pulled the URL from the address bar when you had the video up; I went ahead and added the shortlink provided by YouTube (this is optional).

I also made the link appear in a new window. There are a few ways you can do this: You can use the WYSIWYG editor by doing a right-click then edit link for an existing link; you can use that interface when you create a link from link icon in the WYSIWYG editor; or you can add some code, if you’re feeling ambitious. Here’s the code:


… add target=”_blank” between a and href in your existing link.

From the WYSIWYG, click on Target and then drop down to new window.


A note on S: It’s also a good idea to add the https: protocol (it stands for secure) where you can. Though it’s less of an issue when the link has the target=”_blank” to make it open in a new window, some browser settings may prevent opening a link when it means going from ANGEL (with the S) to “non-secure” content (a URL without the S).

MCC instructors interested in just-in-time video can (and please do!) contact me for more help getting started.


Alex is online course support technician at IDS, working to support all online, hybrid and LMS-enhanced instructors and students in using Blackboard and several media servers. She's also the administrator for the MCC Blogs network. You can reach her at

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Posted in ANGEL Tips, Blog, Free & Cool, IDS Tech Academy, Online Pedagogy
2 comments on “Use Just-in-Time Video to Give Online Classes a Personal Touch
  1. […] sung the praises of using quick, chatty introduction videos to give online-only students a personable explanation of course expectations. But don’t just […]

  2. […] sung the praises of using quick, chatty introduction videos to give online-only students a personable explanation of course expectations. But don’t just […]

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