Video team for hire: NAU department creates educational training videos (for free!)

O'Connell records video in studio

Northern Arizona University staff member Kristine Heflin was feeling overwhelmed. As the assistant director for student leadership and engagement, she found a good portion of her week was spent training student leaders how to lead, outside of her office, away from the piles of work that continued to build on her desk.

“We had implemented mandatory trainings for student organization presidents and treasurers and I was doing all of the trainings in person,” Heflin said. “We offered one to three sessions of each training per week during our busy times in the fall and slightly less often throughout the rest of the year. Although I enjoyed meeting student leaders in person, facilitating the trainings was consuming 6-8 hours per week for me and we were finding that the times were not always convenient for students.”

There had to be a better way.

Heflin started looking into alternative options that could take the place of her teaching the trainings in person, without compromising the quality of training the students received. She wanted to make it more fun than a PowerPoint presentation and more technically appealing than she had the ability to produce.

Then she was referred to ITS’ learning and professional development team by a colleague.

Heflin had been working at NAU for more than five years before she found out about the training team and what they offered. The team was established in 2011 to create video trainings for faculty, staff and students—exactly what Heflin was looking to do. From walk-through videos demonstrating a system or process to informative videos and required trainings to public service announcements, the videos, created free of charge, are intended to streamline messaging for desired audiences while saving resources and the valuable time of employees.

“Preparing for or attending an in-person training session is time-consuming,” said Sarah Lipsey, information systems training staff specialist. “By converting it to an online format, we’re helping both the presenter and the attendees get a little time back in their already busy days.”

Heflin reached out to the learning and professional development team to get started.

First, general concept ideas were shared along with the materials she used for her trainings. Lipsey and team then put together a script and storyboard outlining a rough concept for Heflin’s training videos. Once approved, production began.

Animated video
The videos use a variety of animation, text slides, screen capture and actual video. In addition to the president and treasurer trainings, Heflin utilized the learning and professional development team to create a short training video teaching students how to enter community service hours using the student organization management system.

“Training videos typically take between one and six months to produce,” senior instructional designer Audrey O’Connell said. “But it all depends on the type of training, how long the planning process takes, creating the actual video and any other unforeseen hurdles along the way.”

The team of seven, which created more than 50 videos for roughly 20 clients last fiscal year, will work on as many as 10 videos at a time.

In Heflin’s case, the first pair of videos took about four months from start to finish.

“In addition to presenting a lot of information in a convenient and accessible format for student leaders, I was able to design a quiz to test knowledge and ensure that students retained the most important pieces of information from the video,” she said.

Since requiring student organization leaders take the online trainings, Heflin said complaints about the training requirements and the number of student leaders who don’t complete the trainings by the deadline have significantly decreased. Plus, the trainings are available to take whenever the students have time.

For the learning and professional development team, that’s another satisfied customer.

“The best part about delivering the finished videos is seeing how happy our clients are with the final product,” O’Connell said. “It is one of the best feelings to know we were able to take an idea and transform it into something that not only benefits the client themselves but the whole NAU community.”

For more information on the learning and professional development team, or to see about having a video made, contact

NAU logo-Aug 2018Carly Banks, NAU Communications
(928) 523-5582 |


NAU Communications