Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Using Video in Public Administration Education

playThe views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization. 

By Lois Warner and Seth Meyer
April 28, 2017

Video is a powerful and practical tool for teaching and learning in public administration educational settings, such as academic conferences, classrooms and online courses. Used appropriately, it can add vitality to research reports, and enhance course lectures and readings, with animation, color, sound and visual imagery. These media improve memory, increase understanding and draw interest and attention to topics under consideration. The wide range of available videos on public administration topics connects viewers to experts from around the world, affords them international perspectives and introduces them to environments and information they might not otherwise encounter.

For faculty, disseminating videos through online learning management systems or via email, with overviews of upcoming classes, lectures and instructions for assignments renders them accessible around the clock. Videos certainly provide a convenient mechanism for communicating with students, who are increasingly accessing course materials by smartphones, with the expectation internet based course content will be a fundamental aspect of course delivery. Video recordings are also a viable format for students to complete assignments, and if compared to writing, these may entail the benefit of developing effective speaking skills.

Video Resources

Most government agencies use video to document material for their websites. Public videos include several types with instructional value, whether they are recordings of speeches by policy makers, rules for following administrative procedures, or guidelines for accessing public goods and services. They target a range of audiences, making them generally useful. They broadcast government information, and by doing so promote citizen engagement, facilitate human resources training, support organizational efficiency and foster better public relations. Their instructional value, therefore, abounds as a resource for explaining and demonstrating public administration topics, for case study exercises, prompting discussion, conducting research and collecting data.

There are several databases with royalty free video footage. YouTube is noteworthy as a depository for videos that substantially cover public administration topics. Academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, public administration scholars and publishers are among those storing educational material in this database. These include, for example, introductions to course texts, explanations of complex concepts, program descriptions, documentaries and press coverage of major events. Faculty are also videotaping and posting lectures there, because students can locate them conveniently through smartphones. Indeed, today even creating your own videos is a simple task that most cell phones facilitate. This allows greater autonomy over how to incorporate them into courses.

Putting Video Resources to Good Use

With the abundance of videos, a few strategies make the task of selecting them for public administration purposes less overwhelming. The syllabus is a good place to start, paying attention to the knowledge, skills and attitudes described in the learning objectives as a guide, and evaluating the use of videos toward achieving these. Nevertheless, care is necessary for scrutinizing video content. Selecting from trusted, reliable sources with authority on certain topics helps to ensure the information provided to students is accurate. Duration is another important filter, given the average attention span of 10 to 12 minutes. A single video can be the focal point for a class with structured pair and group interaction. Alternatively, to incorporate more videos, segmenting the class is an option that will require time management. Several software packages are available for editing videos and precisely selecting sections.

Videos should not be shown in isolation, but, instead, as part of a lecture, for example to demonstrate and illustrate points. As part of a discussion, introductory comments can alert students to the kind of information they should look for. Starting class with a strong message, in a short video can also trigger lively and meaningful discussion. After watching a video, student discussions can focus on scripted and unscripted questions, spontaneous reactions and other related viewing experiences. Encouraging dissent around some of the main themes in the videos provides opportunities for civil debate.

Creating Videos

Video assignments serve several purposes. Students can demonstrate and motivate learning by documenting discussions and field trips to share with the larger class. They can record preparatory stages of their presentations to observe and assess their delivery and record narrated presentations on their research for grading. Providing rubrics for graded video assignments helps students write satisfactory scripts, assemble appropriate content succinctly and make choices about what to eliminate, to adhere to time limits.

Creating videos in class provides material for reflection between classes. In particular, faculty can use video tapes of their lectures and other classroom activities, for self-assessment purposes. They can monitor their interactions with students, their gestures while speaking and their overall teaching style. All that is required for doing this is to position a cell phone on a tripod at an advantageous angle in the classroom. They can then work on any faults and weaknesses, while monitoring progress over time, using the same method.


After reviewing the many practical uses of video for teaching and learning in public administration educational settings, and possible sources and strategies for identifying appropriate videos for public administration courses, it is important to assess the effectiveness of using videos, as compared with traditional methods. The course learning objectives are the best source for evaluation criteria.

Author: Lois Warner ([email protected]) is an Assistant Teaching Professor and Teaching Resources Coordinator at the School for Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA), Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Seth Meyer ([email protected]) is a doctoral candidate at SPAA. His research and teaching interests are in service learning and managing nonprofit organizations. 

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *