Knowledge clips for activating online education

Kennisclips voor activerend online onderwijs

Both lecturers and students indicate that they find it difficult to keep their focus during long online lectures. Knowledge clips can help with activating students and make your online lectures easier to understand and remember. In which ways can you use knowledge clips in your education and what should you look out for?

Start by cutting your lecture into chunks

A knowledge clip is a short web-lecture in which you succinctly cover one specific subject. As such, you start by cutting your lecture into chunks; small information units in which you focus on one subject or answer a question. Several of these parts you offer in the form of knowledge clips. Students watch these before or after the (shortened) lecture and work individually or in groups on the corresponding assignments.

You can use knowledge clips to activate prior knowledge, as a teaser for a lecture, or to provide general feedback on a previously handed in assignment. If you know that students have difficulty with certain parts of the theory, you can cover them in a knowledge clip which allows students to watch the explanation multiple times and on the moments they feel the need to do so. In this way you create more space for dynamism and depth in your online lectures.

Tips from literature

In van Leeuwen, de Vink & Corbalan (2018) three types of knowledge clips were evaluated:

  • In type 1, the teacher explained the subject facing the camera using slides and there was no form of interaction; 
  • In type 2, the teacher was interviewed on the subject (in this case there was one-on-one interaction) and; 
  • In type 3, the explained the subject to an audience which was visible in the knowledge clip and which could ask the occasional question (interaction was happening).

Most students (74%) preferred the type 1 knowledge clip: this type had a clear structure, the presentation was clear, and fewer distracting elements were found.

Interesting recommendations are also found in scientific literature for the development and use of knowledge clips (for example Brame, 2016):  

  • Minimise students’ cognitive load. Signalling important information and splitting into chunks can help to do so; 
  • Maximise student engagement by, for example, making short knowledge clips (of about 6 minutes) and by talking relatively fast and enthusiastically.   
  • Activate students during the watching of knowledge clips. One way of doing so is by integrating questions in the knowledge clips, using guiding questions, and using the knowledge clip as a building brick of a larger whole.

Want to make your own?

Would you like to use knowledge clips in your own education? Here are a few practical tips: 

  • Read an overview of do’s and don’ts on Educate-it website. If you have more specific questions, you can make an appointment free of further obligations with one of our educational consultants. 
  • UU-employees can follow an e-module on making knowledge clips. Two exercises are included in the module aimed at designing an effective clip. Have you made a clip? Our consultants are happy to provide you with feedback. They can also support you in the design and didactical use of the clip in your education. 
  • Record a knowledge clip from home? This can be done fairly easily with applications such as Video platform UU or PowerPoint. You can find practical tips on the website of Educate-it.  
  • It is not always necessary to make your own knowledge clip. You can also use existing clips made by colleagues or clips you have found on the internet. The Educatieve Kijkwijzer [in Dutch] by Prof. dr. Kester provides an overview of the things you need to pay attention to when making good knowledge clips for your education. 
  • Watch webinars (in Teams) about making and using knowledge clips. For example, those by Marjolein Haagsman [in Dutch] or Winnifred Wijnker.

More information

Additional scientific literature

  • Kester, L., Camp, G., & Van Merriënboer, J. J. G. (2013). Effectief leren van multimediale leerbronnen. Weten wat werkt en waarom, 2, 14 – 51.
  • Mayer, R. E. (2014). Cognitive theory of multimedia learning. In R. E. Mayer (Ed.), Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning second edition (pp. 43-71). Cambridge: University Press.


Brame, C. J. (2016). Effective educational videos: Principles and guidelines for maximizing student learning from video content. Life Sciences Education, 15, 1–6.

Van Leeuwen, A., De Vink, I. & Corbalan, G. (2018). Studentpercepties over drie typen kennisclips. OnderwijsInnovatie, 2, 33-35.


For questions about the use of knowledge clips in education UU- lecturers can make an appointment free of further obligations with one of our educational consultants. You can contact us via