How to Use Video in Your Classroom

A photograph of a person’s hand holding a smart phone with a video play button on the screen.

Audiovisual materials have long been used to supplement classroom instruction and research. Media, including film and video, can enrich instruction by illustrating course objectives, teaching visual and media literacy skills, and encouraging deeper exploration of course topics and themes.

Today, video is becoming increasingly common in the classroom. This is probably due to the prevalence of online video in our lives – from YouTube to Netflix to library sources such as Hoopla and Kanopy, students often expect information in video format. Video supports a wide variety of disciplines and can be especially valuable in online courses.

So, how can you include video in your curriculum? Where do you find quality video resources? What is the best way to provide access to online video? Some of these questions can be answered by learning what the UNT Media Library has to offer.

The Media Library

The numerous digital media platforms and resources supported by the UNT Libraries expand the accessibility of existing media materials while also offering access to new educational and historical resources.

The Media Library has a large collection of physical video including DVDs, VHS, and even film. UNT Libraries can put items on hold for you, deliver them to your office, or book them for in-house use so that students can watch assigned movies in the library. Use the Media Library catalog to search for what you need. If you need a movie that the Libraries doesn’t currently own, you can request it by contacting the Subject Librarian assigned to your department.

The Media Library also provides access to thousands of online videos. These can be incorporated into curriculum for both in-person and online courses or used to supplement learning outside of class:

  • UNT Libraries Video on Demand Collection contains around 800 online videos. Many of these were selected specifically in response to curricular or research needs of UNT faculty and cannot be found in other online academic collections.
  • Kanopy Streaming and Alexander Street Press offer thousands of online videos on subjects including fashion, literature, social science, media and communications, and applied sciences. In each of the platforms, you can create playlists and video clips to share with students.
  • The Online Media Lib Guide has a comprehensive list of other resources for online video as well as helpful tips and suggestions.

Be sure to also check out the fantastic archival video collections available through the UNT Libraries. These include:

Video FAQs

Not every title you'll want to screen for your students is currently available on our streaming media platforms. Review the following frequently asked questions regarding guidelines for streaming media and evaluating online sources.

Is it legal to show an entire movie or documentary in the classroom?

Luckily, in face-to-face classes this is a fairly straightforward answer: as long as a video is shown as a component of your curriculum (i.e. not as entertainment, event programming, or for fundraising) then it is probably fine! You are welcome to show any of the physical or online videos provided by the UNT Media Library in your face-to-face classes, as well as any video that you own personally, with one notable exception. If you are a subscriber to an online video provider (i.e. Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.), your user agreement prohibits most classroom use.

What are Public Performance Rights and when do I need them?

You will need to buy Public Performance Rights (PPR) if you want to show a video for any type of event that is for students enrolled in a course. This includes movies shown as part of an on-campus film series, for a departmental event, or for student entertainment. PPR is available through a variety of vendors, depending on what movie you want to show and the Media Library staff can help you locate this kind of license.

If the title is available on DVD through the Media Library, can we provide online access to the title?

If you do find a video that you would like to include in an online course or make available online so that students enrolled in a face-to-face course can view at home, the Media Library staff will look for a license for that movie - but keep in mind that the licensing process can be complicated. It often takes several months to complete so get your requests in at least one semester in advance.

If the Media Library has a VHS copy, can we make a DVD or digital file to show in the classroom?

In certain limited cases, libraries can make copies of materials under Section 108C, Title 17 of the United States Copyright Code. These DVD copies are typically limited to on-site viewing only. However, we are often able to purchase a DVD copy of these titles and/or license a digital copy directly from the distributor. This can be a time-consuming process, so please contact the Media Library as soon as possible.

Can I Screen YouTube or Vimeo videos in the classroom?

Some of the content on these platforms is fine to show in a classroom as long as you check to be sure that the YouTube user who posted it is the rights-holder. For example, a TED talk posted on the TED Talks Channel would be fine. However, much of what is shared on YouTube is not posted by the filmmaker or distributor who owns the rights to the content. If you find feature films or episodes of television shows on YouTube, chances are they are not legal content and should not be used in the classroom. If you aren’t sure, email a link to the video to the Media Library, we are happy to investigate!

For more information about obtaining a license for a film or for questions about general rights and usage issues of online video, please contact the Media Library at