Building a Video Lecture from Scratch

I recently posted a new video lecture on Amenorrhea for the 3rd year medical students.

I could have hired a video production company for tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a year later, I’d have my Amenorrhea video lecture. Instead, I chose to produce it myself, at a cost of almost nothing. It took a couple of days of time, spread over a month to complete the video, start to finish.

I’d like  to walk you through the basic steps I followed for this video lecture making, from scripting and editing, to the recording, and finally to post production, where the video is finally assembled.

Recruiting an Expert

A couple of months ago, I was running an OSCE and was in the “Control Room” watching different scenarios play out via audio and video feeds from individual rooms. I struck up a conversation with one of the faculty volunteers, who was providing the “voice” for one of the manikins. Dr. Shweta Nayak is a very nice attending OBGYN, boarded in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

Our discussion ran to the science of learning off screens, and I told her of my experience in creating a virtual M3 OBGYN rotation. I was pleased to have many good video lectures, but lamented the fact that I was still short on some important ones.

What are you missing? she asked.

I’m missing a lot of REI-related topics, like amenorrhea and infertility.

I’d be happy to help you with those, she volunteered.

OK. That would be terrific. I’ll email you with the details about how we proceed, but I think it will be fun for you. Let’s do it.

I had secured my expert. She seemed enthusiastic, personable, and willing to help, the three essential elements for a subject matter expert.

Selecting a Topic

It’s quite easy to make a huge mistake at this point.

The goal is to have the video lecture cover all the important material  for a topic in 15 minutes or less. Longer than that, and you will start to lose people, and even 15 minutes is too long for many engaged in on-screen learning.

If you make your topic too broad (eg “The History of Mankind”), it will be impossible to create a short video lecture that is anything other than laughably superficial, of value to virtually no one. It might provide some light entertainment, but it certainly won’t be educational.

If you make your topic too narrow (eg “The Transformation of Cells through the Interaction of SV40 TAg with pRb via the Leu – x – Cys – x – Glu motif”), you will spend a lot of time creating a product that is of value to very few people. If you are trying to cover a given knowledge base, it will take hundreds or thousands of these narrowly-drawn topics. This becomes unmanageable from a learning standpoint, and consequently ineffective from an educational standpoint.

In my medical specialty, we have a number of potential sources for medical undergraduate learning objectives, which can serve as the basis for a lecture topic. Among the better ones are those from the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO).

Among the eight “Units” for undergraduate training, is “Unit 4: Reproductive Endocrinology, Infertility and Related Topics”, encompassing:

  • Puberty
  • Amenorrhea
  • Hirsutism and Virilization
  • Normal and Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Menopause
  • Infertility
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

In looking further into “Amenorrhea” they list specific learning objectives:

  1. Define Amenorrhea and Oligomenorrhea
  2. Explain the pathophysiology and identify etiologies of amenorrhea and oligomenorrhea, including possible nutritional causes
  3. Describe associated symptoms and PE findings of amenorrhea
  4. Discuss the steps in the evaluation and initial management of amenorrhea and oligomenorrhea
  5. Describe the consequences of untreated amenorrhea and oligomenorrhea

Based on all of this, I had Dr. Nayak pick the topic she most wanted to do first. She picked “Amenorrhea”.

[Additional content on this page is restricted to Registered Medical Professionals]

Notes from a Medical Educator