More Than Entertainment: 5 Ways to Engage and Educate Students Using Media

Last updated on: October 10, 2023

clock icon 5 minute read
clock icon 5 minute read

Media Is Everywhere.

In 2017, a thirty-second Super Bowl ad cost companies around five million dollars, or a mere $166,667 per second. If you have a teenager like I do, then you have possibly witnessed them watching someone else play video games on YouTube. Who knew that was even a thing? The most popular gamers, or “content creators”, on YouTube earn anywhere from 7-15 million dollars annually, and Cisco estimates that more than eighty percent of all internet traffic will be through video in 2021.

Media, defined as video, graphics, interactives, audio, etc., is in demand and acts as a vehicle to engage, excite, entertain, as well as educate. Therefore, it’s only natural that online learning would leverage media usage. So why don’t more online programs incorporate and utilize media?

The answer is simple: many institutions and faculty simply don’t know how to create and use video, or don’t think they can afford it. Luckily, the secret sauce for compelling media is actually very simple:

  • a pinch of initiative
  • a dash of technology
  • a sprinkle of creativity
  • a handful of team effort

Through media, educators can create connections between themselves, the learner, and the content. Media enables a seamless transfer of knowledge and the cultivating and fostering of a learning community within the online classroom. It also has the ability to create connections, allow both the students and faculty to become storytellers, and clarify difficult concepts through visual tools. Given the choice between a learning experience that incorporates video, podcasts, and games, and one that only features text on a page, which would you prefer to digest?

No Budget? No Problem.

Regardless of their budget, universities can incorporate media into their curriculum. Schools without a specified media budget should not be discouraged, as they can create it in a cost-effective way as long as they have a great idea, willing “talent”, recording devices (think smart phone or iPad), stock editing software (movie maker, iMovie), time, and patience.

See below for five simple ways your institution can start effectively incorporating media into your courses:


A classroom can be any place where teaching and learning actively and effectively intersect. If you are limiting yourself to your classroom or your office, you are missing out! Use your smartphone to show students examples of discussed course topics. For example, in a course that I helped design, the objective was to teach students how to manage departments in a sports facility, so we captured a video from the sidelines of a sports arena, giving students a behind the scenes glance.


Media is more than just entertainment. Get your students excited to complete an assignment by taking the learning “out” of your Learning Management System (LMS).
One way to do this is to have students leave their computers and participate in an experience. For example, if you are teaching a course with a section on multiculturalism, have them attend a festival or a cultural event. Do you teach a course on Corporate Social Responsibility? Have your students spend a few hours volunteering for a cause of their choice and write about it. Do you want your students to think about something from a different perspective? Send them to an event. In one Facility Management course assignment, the students were asked to attend an event in their hometown, ranging from a pop warner game, to a concert, to a professional sporting event. Afterwards, they analyzed what they experienced based on the outcomes for the week (i.e. safety and security, advertising, or food and beverage), and had to provide pictures of their experience along with their written assignment. The more selfies the better!


Utilize an integrated web camera to give your students an opportunity to see you and get to know you, then, ask the same of them. I encourage you to breakdown the stigma associated with being an instructor. Be casual, be comfortable, record in your living room, but most importantly—be relatable.


Modeling is a great way to engage your students and provide an example of what you expect to receive back from them. Utilize a screen casting tool and work through a problem set in order to help them understand the application techniques they will be doing to complete an assignment.
One faculty member I designed a course with decided to record a screen capture on himself reviewing a written paper for APA formatting. Wouldn’t it be great for students to know exactly what you, their faculty member, are looking for? Show them.


Do you belong to a professional network? Do you know someone who works in the field that has a relevant story to share? Set up a guest interview series.
Using a web conferencing tool, set up a time for your expert to answer some questions about what it’s like work in the field over webcam. Ask the individual to share advice to students who want to break into the industry. Most importantly, ask your expert to share not only their successes, but their failures. In a course that focused on the global reach of sports, it took a single text message, and the power of skype to share some amazing experiences from Olympic Gold Medalist and amazing figure skater, Scott Hamilton. Yes, I totally “fan-girled”.

Are you ready to start incorporating more media into your courses? Below are a number of resources to help you get inspired:

In sum, budget and expertise shouldn’t dictate whether or not your courses feature different types of media to better engage students. Try these recommendations and see the difference for yourself.

For more tips and strategies to increase learning engagement, see our resources page.

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