Video from "World of Food: Personal to Global Perspectives on Nutrition, Agriculture, and Policy" (Summer Session course)


Media can be especially powerful for taking students to locations that defy the limits of time and space. Location-based media allows students a glimpse into places they may not otherwise be able to visit. This may be a video capturing the work of a cutting-edge research lab, or connecting students to a remote location to which they otherwise might not be able to travel, or it could be an audio interview of subject matter experts that students might not otherwise meet – all experienced from the student’s home locations around the world. In this way, media can create a bridge between students’ individual experience on their computer screens and the places and spaces in the world that illuminate course material.

The Digital Media Group at Brown’s School of Professional Studies works with instructors and instructional designers to craft engaging narratives specific to these locations and ensures that the right technology is used to properly capture these spaces and stories. Because the media is edited to highlight the most relevant and meaningful information, it can be used as a far more effective teaching device than what may remember as a typical in-person “field trip.”

Courses that successfully have used site-specific media include:

  • World of Food: Personal to Global Perspectives on Nutrition, Agriculture, and Policy

  • Animal Behavior Laboratory

  • Neuroscience in Action: Understanding Our Brains and Nervous Systems

  • Body at Work: Anatomy, Physiology, and Disease

  • So You Want to Be a Doctor?

  • Climate & Climate Change: Scientific, Societal, and Global Implications

Learn more:
Digital Media at SPS Online
SPS Digital Media Group
Online and Blended Learning at Brown
About SPS’s course development process 

Project Contact: Ash Adam, Creative Team Lead for Educational Media (


  • Faculty

  • Interview subject(s)

  • SPS instructional designers

  • SPS Digital Media Group

  • 1- or 2-camera setup

  • Professional audio and lighting equipment

  • Adobe Creative Suite for post-production

  • Video hosting site

  • Canvas LMS


Video created for an SPS online or blended course is driven by the course learning objectives and instructional design needs of related assignments, discussions, and activities.

The SPS Digital Media Group collaborates with faculty and SPS instructional designers to design and develop media that supports the course outcomes, reflecting student-centered pedagogical practices and design principles proven effective for online learning.

Learn more about the SPS Video Production Process.

Custom course videos typically take about 25 hours to plan, shoot, and edit.


  • Offers students anywhere in the world the ability to access places and spaces they couldn’t otherwise go, given class schedules or the locations from which they are engaging in an online course

  • Allows students to see the authentic people and places related to a topic

  • Students hear stories directly from the video subjects themselves - first-hand accounts, primary sources

  • Showcases the networks of people and issues with which course faculty are engaged; provides opportunity to expand “expert voices” within course

  • Content is lasting - can reuse year after year; students can listen / view content again and again as reference or to deepen engagement with content

  • Video provides variety within a course - expands the student experience beyond reading text or viewing still images

  • Students enjoy the “field trip experience” without the expense and logistics required of students and site participants

“The quality of this course is really fantastic. I got to see images of x-rays and CT scans and even watched videos that showed the body’s internal organs. The labs were really fantastic and I made sure to watch every single video.”

“I really enjoyed the virtual labs, and thought it really awesome to still get the lab/dissection experience just from a computer.”

“I liked that the instructor acted as a voice on campus for the students. When we did activities that involved other professors, like take a virtual tour of their lab, we would often have to submit questions that we had for that professor. Dr. Aizenman would ask the professors some of our questions and then tell us their responses, which made me feel much closer to and more involved in the Brown campus.”

“Before this course, I wasn’t interested in applying to Brown for undergraduate studies, but I was so impressed with the faculty for this course and the professors that we ‘met’ via video tours that I will definitely apply to Brown as one of my top choices for college!”
- Pre-College Online students

  • Working with experts to tailor their message for the appropriate student audience; often, subject matter experts may be accustomed to communicating with peers in their field and use language or jargon that may be unfamiliar to a student audience; the DMG works with subject matter experts to ensure their message will be clear for each course’s specific audience

  • Preparing for variable locations; many video shoots of this kind require the need to get a sense of each location on the fly, at same time as the shoot. Since these video shoots do not take place in a controlled environment like a production studio, it is necessary to be prepared with equipment to shoot in a range of environments, from rooms with low light to noisy environments with variable sunlight.

  • Finding the right length of the piece in order to maximize student engagement and retention, but not compromise the material. A lengthy video may include a lot of important information, but it is only valuable when students watch the full video and are able to retain the information it holds. The DMG brings its expertise to considering ways to condense long stories or break them into multiple videos without compromising the message and learning material.


The time invested up-front in producing location-based media results in engaging, meaningful, and long-lasting and course material that students benefit from year after year. Location-based media continually receives positive feedback from student evaluations.