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How to Create Amazing Teaching Videos Students Will Watch

History teacher Keith Hughes has created more than 200 amazing videos that his students and millions of YouTube users enjoy watching. His Hip Hughes History channelhas 20 thousand subscribers and he is a YouTube Next Edu Guru Award winner.

His secret to being such a YouTube rockstar? He just does it! In honor of Connected Educator month which happens to be October and encourages teachers to embrace technology, I asked Hughes to share how he got started, keeps going and his advice to fellow educators on how to begin making YouTube training videos people will learn from and watch.

Passion for Learning: How did you get started doing social studies videos on YouTube?

Hughes: In 2000, I joined a program called City Voices, City Visions which I then went on to run for seven years. Our mission was to integrate DV into curricular classes for student production. Through that I learned how to edit and in 2007 I began to make my own lecture videos for kids. The idea was to provide the video resource to free up more time in class for production including DV for kids. Like this one:

PFL: What equipment did you use when you got started?

Hughes: My older videos, I call "hostage" videos. I used a Canon Z-10 on a stack of books in my bedroom. Looking back they are a little creepy. Here is an early one:

PFL: What equipment do you use now? (Camera, lights, microphones, editing equipment)? How much did it cost? Where did you get it from?

Hughes: I now use a Canon XH-A1 (4k) which I got from the local roller derby league (I do their video) and a Canon DSLR-60 ($1k) which I won from YouTube. I also use halogen lights which I bought. ($150) I also help Grad students make videos and I have found 100 dollar flip video cameras to be quite effective. Anything HD (even a smart phone) can be utilized today. #noexcuses

PFL: How do you prepare each lesson?

Hughes: Everyone is different. I am a winger. I know the curriculum like the back of my hand, so after 15 years, I am comfortable with an outline and time in front of the camera to make it happen. I know many who script.... it all depends on the individual.

PFL:Does anyone help you with production?

Hughes: I get help from I, Me and Mine.

PFL:What is a reasonable amount of video lessons to produce for YouTube given how busy teachers are? How long does it take to produce from start to finish?

Hughes: I know I am fast; my current videos, I do in school before homeroom and considering they are not green screen they are super quick to edit... I can bang one out in 40 minutes.... a newbie maybe in a couple hours.... here is an example on the Government Shutdown.

Hughes: The Green Screen (ones) are a bit lengthier because of editing. < href=""/>A ten minute green screen can easily take 3 or 4 hours. For a new teacher I think it’s not unreasonable to pump out one video a week. There is no bad way to start.

PFL: How did you get on YouTube's radar?

Hughes: Consistency and improving my quality. Last year, I won the EDU Next Youtube Guru award. That did not hurt. Connecting with other teachers and content creators is also a great way to get noticed and hits. Join groups like Edmodo, Knowmia or Schoology and Self Promote.

PFL: How do kids react to your videos? Do they critique them? Do they help you?

Hughes: I think well. On YouTube everyone critiques and any feedback can be helpful. But one with thin skin should be careful.

POL: Which Educational YouTube Channels are your favorites and which videos of yours are your favorites?

Hughes: Channels I love? Crash Course, VSauce, Bozeman Biology, Amori Sciendi, History Teachers (Music) so many to mention.... Vi Hart is awesome, Minute Physics.... the list is endless. My own favorite video? I really am proud of my Supreme Court and Constitutional Videos, I think they are fun and hit the content on the head.

POL:Do you get any support from administrators (principals, other teachers) or did they not take you seriously at first?

Hughes:Yes, they do support me. But anyone doing this should see support as gravy, expect to do much alone and hopefully you find gravy.

POL: What words of encouragement and resources would you give to teachers who are trying this for the first time and are not tech savvy?

Hughes: Mistakes are OK. Your videos should be authentic not perfection. Kids and YouTube in general values realdom as much as production. As long as you are in focus and are being yourself, that's good enough! Don't use a lack of access to great technology to stop you.... just do it. It will work out and you will get better. You are not a Hollywood studio so expect your own best... not somebody else's best.

Anyone thinking about Flipping should watch my tutorial, "I Flip, You Flip, We All Flip"... it gives a good overview of advice.