New apps, computers, phones, and many other technologies are being released an ever increasing rate pulling on our attentions. With them, many schools see an increasing challenge in keeping students engaged in the classroom. However, there is at least one great way that smart phone apps can be used to help engage students. With the increasing use of smart phones, video creation apps have become easier and easier to use with ever better functionality. Today’s students are used to creating their own Instagram clips and Youtube posts on a daily basis. Rather than being considered a distraction, this can actually provide a great opportunity to engage students in academics through video creation.There are many video contests available for students. Some are more refined than others, and each has its own specific requirements; however, there are some common tips that can help students be more successful at these competitions.

Featured Competition: the World of 7 Billion Student Video Contest helps students learn about global population growth and its impacts. Don’t miss this video contest, the submission deadline is February 28th, 2019.

Students don’t need to become professional film-makers, but they should learn to incorporate few new skills. Here are 6 common tips we encourage students to follow when submitting to one of the great video contests that are available.

  1. 1. First, make sure you know your content.

Student video contests typically have a theme for your videos. Sometimes the theme changes each year, but sometimes it remains constant. Before beginning to create a video, students should spend time to research their competition’s theme. The more they know about the content the better the video will come out. Competitions typically don’t just score videos based on the quality of the filming, but they also focus on how well the students demonstrate specific knowledge or understanding of the theme. So make sure to do the background research in depth before you begin filming! 

  1. 2. Ensure the video responds to the challenge prompt.

In similar lines to knowing your content, students also need to double check that the video actually responds to the contest’s prompt or requirements. Typically student video contests will have certain requirements for your video. Not only will they require the video to be a certain length or of a certain quality, but they may also ask for the video to respond to a specific question, or include a particular type of information. Students need to double check that they understand all of these requirements before beginning to film. Many high quality videos have been disqualified because they didn’t follow the specific requirements of the contest prompt.

  1. 3. Create a storyboard and script before filming.

For those creative students jumping into video contests, it can be hard not to just jump in and start filming, but you really should put the breaks on a little bit and make sure that you have a good plan for what you are going to film first. We suggest to create two things before you get to the filming. First build out a storyboard for the video. What is it going to show when? What kind of imagery do you want to have? And what are the main points that the video will make in each scene? Then actually write your script. If you are going to have a lot of talking, this could take some time. Finally, when you have these two guides wrapped up, you’ll be ready to make a great video!

  1. 4. Select a style that matches your personality.

Every video is different, and each videographer has their own style. A video that one person thinks is excellent could be what the next person cringes at. Don’t worry too much about making videos in a specific style to try and meet everyone’s interest. Instead focus on defining your own style, and don’t switch styles in one video. Following a style that matches your personality will end up making it easier to create a high quality video with good content that meets the contest’s prompts. This alone will make your video easier to score highly than a video that is trying too hard to fit into one specific style that doesn’t match that of the students themselves.

  1. 5. Check the video for errors!

This may go without saying, but don’t submit a video that has bad audio, misspellings in its text, or other errors. Just like with a writing competition, you need to check and double check the video for errors. Make sure the playback is smooth and that there are no problems with your transitions. Having a seamless experience will help the contest judges score your submission highly.

  1. 6. Don’t worry too much about the bells and whistles.

It is very tempting to put on as many fancy transitions and exciting overlays in a video as you can. Students see a lot of interesting new features in the editing software or apps and think we should cram them all into a video! Unfortunately, this doesn’t help much in scoring videos well. Sometimes a well-placed transition feature, or interesting text overlay can make a difference, when it works well with your actual storyboard. However, don’t overdo it! Too many of these bells and whistles can distract judges from your real message just as easily as they can add to it.

Overall, video contests can be a great way to learn educational content while also flexing creative muscles. We encourage students and educators in all fields to explore these competitions. Although each contest has its own specific rules and guidelines, there are common traits that, when considered carefully, can help students produce better videos for any contest or competition. But make sure that you also review the competition’s website for specific guidelines.

Many competitions will post recommendations that are unique to their program to help you create videos that are specifically suited for what their judges are looking for. For example, the World of 7 Billion Student Video Contest includes a whole page with 15 specific recommendations to help you tailor your video to their challenge. In addition to our overarching items to get you started on the right path, the W7B team recommends things like choosing a specific audience for your video, and identifying a video “tone” before you even begin. You can check out these, and other guidelines for the W7B contest here.

W7B and many other video contests have deadlines in early 2019, so don’t miss this chance to flex your creative muscles and get involved in an academic video contest today!

Article Highlights

  • Millennials have proven to be a very socially engaged generation, but continued support from younger generations is needed.
  • Video creation has been shown to be a great learning tool that can also inspire action in young change-makers.
  • The World of 7 Billion contest provides a unique opportunity for middle and high school educators to connect students with global change on a level they can easily internalize.

It seems like we’ve been trying to tackle pollution, hunger, women’s rights, and other global challenges, for … well, forever. And unfortunately, it seems like the solution is always just beyond our reach. These challenges are so complex and have such a wide ranging set of variables that it is impossible to say that there is one solution. There is no smoking gun where, if only we did X, we would solve world hunger, or we would end pollution, or equalize the rights of all people. Global change happens through the combination of many local and regional changes that percolate into our systems, societies, and economies leading to global trends that move the needle. However, getting students to realize this without being overwhelmed by the challenges ahead can be difficult.

Over the past decade, we’ve seen the Millennial generation grow into its own, entering the workforce and creating new social enterprises to help tackle these global challenges. We were introduced to Millennial change-makers such as Boyan Slat, the 23 year old Founder of The Ocean Cleanup, and Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist leading global change in women’s rights through, and other Millennials who have taken the plunge into instigating social change. However, these complex challenges will not be solved by just a few leaders. Solutions require masses of new change-makers to build upon what has come before.

The Case Foundation’s 2016 Millennial Impact Report noted that, “Millennials are looking to effect change and make a difference through individualistic and personally gratifying action.” They act locally, as everyday change-makers. With the rise of the Millennial generation and the success of these young heroes, educators all over the world are starting to see that they can actually inspire students to take action and become mentors to a generation of global change-makers.

Of course, it’s not easy to showcase how students can actually have an impact on such complex, global challenges. For many educators, inspiring action in these areas can seem daunting, especially to students who have as of yet had little to no experience fighting for social change. Sometimes the tasks simply seem too complex to even understand where to start.

So what are educators to do if they want to help inspire their students to become the next global change makers?

One proven way to inspire action is through video – not just watching video about global change – but creating videos where students can use multiple skills to internalize the content. In 2014, Dr. Peter Willmot and his colleagues at Loughborough University and Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom demonstrated that, “there is strong evidence that digital video reporting can inspire and engage students when incorporated into student-centered learning activities.”

Dr. Willmot and his colleagues found that when students create their own videos, they are effectively combining the learning-through-teaching principle with a number of other skills that help to build deep, intrinsic connections to the content and internalize their own learning. In one study, conducted at Loughborough University, Dr. Willmot, found that 3 out of 4 students said they enjoyed a learning activity using video creation as its primary learning tool. While this research does not compare these student responses to those of other learning tools, it does show that video development can be a significant way to engage students. 

The World of 7 Billion student video contest provides a unique opportunity for educators to put this research to practice and use video creation to not only educate students on global issues, but inspire them into action. The academic contest will not only help your students learn about global challenges, but it will also engage them in conceptualizing actionable solutions of their own.

In the World of 7 Billion contest, students create their own 60 second video connecting population pressures with one of three global challenges: advancing women and girls, feeding 10 billion, or preventing pollution. Students must also include their own concept on how we can move forward with solving the challenge, and showcase this to the world through their video.


The majority of last year’s student participants said they actually wanted to expand upon their video projects and work on helping to implement a solution!

Students throughout the world are eligible for awards, but more so than just winning prizes, they are included into a global community of young change-makers. Go beyond the traditional research project and encourage deeper learning for your students. Video submissions for the 2018 contest are due in February, but accepting on a rolling basis. So now is the time to start thinking about projects, and getting your students ready to go!

Check out all of the details at World of 7 Billion.