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Tips and Tricks for authoring video in Dawn

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Dawn is designed to support socially-driven, video-centric courses as part of the best mobile first learning experience out there. Here are some recommendations to help you take full advantage of its capabilities and ensure your learners the true Dawn Learning Experience.

Video guidelines

  • All videos need to be in mp4 format to upload to Dawn.
  • Follow these video specs for best results:
    • Shoot in 1080P or above.
    • Design for 3-12 minute clips.
    • Design with 360px width in mind.
    • Use 16x9 aspect ratio for all video.
    • Remember that maximum upload video size is 1 GB.
  • Remember this is mobile first; fullscreen screen capture does not read on smartphones. All on-screen text or detail work must account for this and use at least font size 14.
  • Design with smallest delivery mode in mind. Mobile devices in portrait mode have a width 360px. While talking heads are fine at this resolution, you want to make sure the details of your screen or scenic shots are visible at that size. Test this using Chrome’s debug resolution tools on your desktop.
    • Shoot test video before you fully commit your expensive resources. Check video and audio on all of the target devices.
  • Aim for 3-15 minutes of video to leverage the tool’s strengths, and err on the side of “less is more” when possible. If you do this, your file sizes will be fine.
  • If your video is larger than 1 GB, consider breaking it into multiple instruction items or decreasing the resolution or frame rate before uploading.
  • We transcode all video to 720p (semi-high def) and 360p (low def); we recommend shooting in 1080p.
  • Create pauses (1.5-2 seconds) in the videos to allow for fade-to-black before and after interactions.
  • Make sure to check and match audio levels for all course video. You don’t want instructional items to have different levels since a learner will often play them back to back. Make sure your talking head, voice overs, and screencasts all are at the same audio level.


Localization is handled by building different courses for each language. Make the original course a template in the interface, so it can be copied and edited for localization.

Best authoring practices

  • Always think about the interplay between the video instruction, the social discussions inspired by interactions, and the Mastery demonstration of projects. These should all form a unifying learning experience. Video should introduce and recap inline interactions. Projects should demonstrate video concepts and learning shared through interactions.
  • Remember to shoot a short introduction and course preview for learners to view in the course catalog.
  • Immediately after publishing, add projects and interactions to make engaging easier for learners and to set initial expectations of what good projects and interactions might look like.
  • If you build in interactions that take the learner away from the course, include opportunities for them to return and upload artifacts (photos, videos, etc.) that demonstrate their understanding and experience.
  • Promote social discussion. Limit the use of multiple choice questions. Instead, ask questions that drive discussion. Learners are here for a social learning experience. Create interactions that best create that experience and facilitate communal knowledge building.
  • As the author, participate in social discussions. Give encouragement and answer questions.
  • Track the learners’ experience and progress. If video viewing time are averaging low, then figure out why. Talk to learners directly on their feeds to understand what their experience is.
  • You can include YouTube videos as part of your instructional flow by adding them as supplemental materials.

Additional articles


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