Canvas Spotlight

Canvas Spotlight: Create High-Quality Course Videos

Last updated on June 14, 2024

Imagine you are putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Let’s say this puzzle has all the necessary pieces but they don’t have any images or colors on them. Alternatively, what if you have all of the images and colors on each piece to put them together, but you are missing a few pieces and some just don’t fit quite right? What if you are given triple the amount of pieces you need? Chances are you will end up frustrated and your puzzle will be left incomplete.

Learners may often feel similar when navigating multimedia presentations such as lectures or module overviews where they receive irrelevant, incomplete, or excessive information. What students need from multimedia presentations is the right amount of relevant, coherent material. The way you deliver your content via YuJa can do this through the use of advanced instructional techniques established on multimedia principles.  

These advanced YuJa techniques are founded on Richard Meyer’s Theory of Multimedia Learning and the established concept that “people learn better from words and images than from words alone.” We can build upon this with a few of Meyer’s other multimedia principles in mind, such as coherency, pre-training, segmenting, personalization, and embodiment. This Spotlight will walk you through using these techniques to enhance the quality of your multimedia presentations and their value to students. With these principles in mind, you will be able to create presentations with YuJa that are informative, concise, and relevant to your student’s mastery of learning objectives.

Best Practices

Why should I use this?

  • Using the advanced techniques outlined in this spotlight helps manage cognitive load. Your materials will be much more digestible when using these multimedia principles because they will be presented in simple chunks that ultimately encourage student engagement and content retention.
  • These multimedia principles make for a more accessible presentation. Annotations not only create an equivalent experience for all learners, but they also enhance your course by incorporating multimedia principles. Review the CTLD Spotlight on audio annotations for more information on making your multimedia presentations accessible for those with vision impairments. 
  • Learners only have so much cognitive capacity at any given time, so it is up to the instructor to manage the cognitive load on students. We can avoid cognitive overload in presentations by reducing the amount of time learners need to figure out how content relates to the objective at hand by keeping relevant and essential information on the screen at any given time. 
  • Multimodal learning such as writing, images, and audio commentary being presented simultaneously encourages engagement and improved comprehension of your lessons. Multimodal presentations are best coupled with your presence as an instructor to enhance student motivation and personalize the learning experience. 

When should I set this up?

What should I avoid in presentations?

  • Avoid excessive or irrelevant images to minimize the cognitive load on the learner. Keep images relevant to your instructional goals.
  • Avoid excessive text on each slide. Instead, opt to limit text and use your voice to carry out the details of the topic. Remove text that can be narrated and leave only the essential information. This not only reduces cognitive load but increases personalization of the content with your voice. 
  • Avoid diving into new material without priming learners. As students are learning new topics, it is best to introduce key concepts and terms before presenting complex information so learners are not overwhelmed with new content. Opt to introduce a new concept with an introductory slide or two covering needed terminology or foundational information. 

Let’s walk through it together


The following section summarizes a few key advanced techniques you can use in YuJa presentations, common issues, and how you can solve them. 

The Multimedia Principle

The multimedia principle states learners retain information much better through visual and auditory information being presented simultaneously than from words alone. Given this, your presentations should include relevant images, limited text, and your voice as the most prominent aspect of each slide. This manages cognitive overload for students and limits irrelevant information. 

Common Issues:

  • Text-only slides or slides with long paragraphs of text while the narration reads them verbatim.
  • Too many images and/or too much text along with excessive/irrelevant images such that the information can’t be covered or annotated.

Advanced Technique: 

  • Present text and images while using your voice to deliver the majority of the information. 
  • Utilize only relevant images and limit text to key information. If needed, add slides to break up the images and information.

The Coherence Principle

The Coherence Principle states removing extraneous or irrelevant multimedia elements reduces cognitive load, allowing students to focus on essential information and better understand the content. You can do this by keeping your core message and instructional goal in mind when adding material to your presentation. 

Common Issues:

  • Using decorative graphics, background music, or excessive animations that do not contribute meaningfully to the instructional content.

Advanced Technique:

  • Use concise and visually clear diagrams or illustrations that directly support the main points without overwhelming the students with unnecessary details.
  • Remove or minimize the use of any extraneous text/images in your presentations. 

The Segmenting Principle

The Segmenting Principle states people learn better when information is segmented (or chunked) in sections rather than as a continuous unit.

Common Issues:

  • Overwhelming learners with too large an amount of information (often text) on each slide.
  • An overwhelming total length of a continuous presentation.

Advanced Technique:

  • Break up large chunks of information into smaller segments on each slide. What was once on one slide may fit more neatly on two or three slides. Increase the overall number of slides in your presentation, if need be. 
  • Break up continuous, long presentations into multiple videos or presentations. A general guideline is to make every presentation roughly 7 to 12 minutes long.

The Pre-Training Principle

The Pre-Training Principle states providing a brief overview or preview of upcoming content primes students and activates their prior knowledge to create a mental framework for better comprehension. This becomes more important the more complex your subject matter is.

Common Issues:

  • Diving into complex content without offering key information, terms, or vocabulary beforehand. 

Advanced Technique: 

  • Providing a few slides that cover key vocabulary, terms, and foundational information before delving deeper into a new topic or concept. 

Personalization and Embodiment Principle

The Personalization and embodiment principle states people learn better when a presenter is on screen, speaking in an appealing and conversational tone while incorporating gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact. Learners feel more invested and motivated when you personalize yourself and embody instruction. Keep in mind your presence is not only unique but has instructional value to learners. 

Common Issues:

  • Courses with no multimedia recordings or no narration in presentations. 
  • Reading text verbatim from slides without addressing learners. 

Advanced Technique:

  • Personalize content by recording your lectures with a conversational, personable tone and addressing learners directly. Verbal missteps are often ok as they can support personalizing you as an instructor. 
  • Embody your content; a gesture to certain parts of the screen using your cursor or creating content in real-time (such as solving a math equation) goes a long way to creating a sense of investment for learners. 
  • One of the best ways to start with personalizing your course is to record an introductory video where you are speaking to the class, sharing your background, and providing a short overview of the course’s content. 

    Source: Mayer, Richard E. “The Promise of Multimedia Learning.” Multimedia Learning, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2021