I have been offered the chance to prepare and deliver 4 undergraduate courses. There are to be forty 15 minute videos per course all to be written and presented by me. It seems they will in the first instance use the video for their current undergraduates but may then roll them out as part of some future MOOC-ish course.

My question is, does anyone with experience of producing this sort of material have any suggestions for how much work it is likely to be? I know how much work preparing a normal lecture course is of course but I don't have a good feeling for how much more work making the video lectures is. Ultimately the university wants me to say how much money I would accept to make the courses.

This related question from 2013 is sadly without any concrete answers but maybe there is more information available these day?

  • 6
    This video about online learning quotes a figure saying that it takes up to 20 times as long to produce a MOOC as it does a normal course: youtube.com/watch?v=pmi3NK39g3c
    – illabout
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 15:40
  • Please avoid acronyms, or at least spell them out the first time. Commented Mar 25, 2019 at 0:50

4 Answers 4


I have a couple of strong opinions on this:

  1. Just because many MOOCs are built around video does not make them a good idea. See this article by Lorena Barba for one example. It is hard to use recorded material well, as I've found from my own experience.
  2. Preparing high quality videos is a job for an expert. If you don't know enough about producing the material to estimate how long it will take, the answer is too long.

I have worked on MOOC-like courses in the past and my experience is that they're considerably more time and resource intensive than standard in-person courses. I also believe that the idea that you'll save time through re-use is generally wrong, if you want good engagement with students. I think there is a lot you can learn about pedagogy, presentation and your field by working on and collaborating with a MOOC, but you've got to put in lots of time - my estimate is that setting up a MOOC style course is more than twice the effort of a standard course, and if you're recording video to a decent standard I'd raise that multiplier considerably.

  • Thank you for the link to Lorena Bara's article - it, and the comments accompanying it were hugely helpful.
    – ptim
    Commented Apr 25, 2020 at 14:09

How much time it takes depends heavily on how much production support you have. I found that, including editing time, it took between one and two hours to record each 10 minute video for a course. If you're recording that many videos, you'll want to budget in (or make sure the university is providing) hiring someone to handle the production side of it, since that will save you a considerable amount of time.

But even so, it takes many times as long to record a video as it does to prepare the corresponding lecture.

  • Thank you. The university has already done a number of these so I am assuming they will provide technical support.
    – Simd
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 15:40
  • 1
    Just a caution: that level of technical support will most likely be pretty far from the level of a Hollywood A-studio, or B, or, ... so do NOT depend on them for sense. Especially not pedagogical sense. These days, the video-producing sub-units of unis are often economically "independent", which means primarily that they get no help from the uni, so have to make a dollar... and, for your interests, will be cutting corners at every possible moment. Against the interests of both you and your students. Unfortunately. Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 23:29

I haven't run a MOOC, so I cannot comment on how much effort that is. However,having recorded many lectures at the Texas A&M television studio that are available on youtube (see http://www.math.colostate.edu/~bangerth/videos.html) I can comment on the effort related to recording:

First, it's an enormous effort if you intend to record and edit videos. Given that you're the expert on the subject, it's likely that editing would fall onto you, and you will have to estimate 2-3 times the length of the videos just for editing -- in your case, that would be 2-3 weeks.

The alternative is to just have a single cut for each video. That's the way I went. Most of the time it goes well, and occasionally you just have to start again from the top. Not all that big a deal -- if you stumble or something goes wrong, you just have to make it into a joke and move on, all while on camera.

Second, if you can't edit, you have to get it right. That means that by and large your slides have to be meticulous, and you need to know exactly what you want to say. My estimate is that it takes you 4-6 times the length of the lecture to get to the point where everything is in place, both on the slides and in your head. So, preparing 40 hours of lectures will take you 4-6 weeks of preparation. This is much more than a regular course because for a regular course you can fill in gaps from your background knowledge as you stand on the whiteboard, and you can read off the faces of your students whether you need to go into more detail or not. No such luxury when in front of a camera -- it has to be complete, and at the right level, on first take.

Third, there is of course also the time you actually stand in the studio. I've found that I record for maybe 3 hours a day, but certainly no more -- it's tiring to talk to yourself for longer. So I got 3, sometimes 4 lectures (at 30-45 minutes each) in per day, at most. But there's breaks between recording, time to set up, time to break everything down again, so you may spend 50% more time in the studio than just the time to record. A total of 1.5 weeks in your case.

All in all, it's a lot of work to record a semester's worth of material in the studio, even if (as in my case) you have fantastic studio staff doing all of the recording and production work.

  • Thank you. This is exactly the sort of practical information I need.
    – Simd
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 6:07

In addition to the other useful answers and comments, I must interject that, ... in addition to the point that creation of such stuff will take many times more than is obvious ... there seems to be a tendency of some part of the "university entity" that attempts to exploit the naivete or idealism of (especially young) faculty to create such things. For example, at the point that I realized that I might want to have some control over a similar "intellectual property" that I was solicited to create (on the basis of a popular "live" course I'd given), and inquired about the relevant arrangements, the university honchos simply stopped responding to email. (Wasn't a tragedy, because I was getting tired of the gig in some regards...)

That is, beware of the situation that you accept a modest, one-time payment for creation of courseware that can be used indefinitely. (All the worse if you agree to an obligation of responding to email ... gratis.) Giving up your IP rights to such a thing is at best injudicious... all the worse if you are a temporary hire, terminated after getting the thing going, with modest compensation, while the "univ" can play your video in perpetuity (whether or not the set-up is good for their students).

So: beware. But, still, if you have enthusiasm for doing the thing, and are not too-badly disserving yourself, it would be educational, possibly usefully for your future endeavors. But it'll take all your time, yes.


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