Blog for February: Effectively Using Video for Outreach and Dissemination

Posted by: Joni Falk on January 27, 2020

This month our theme addresses the use of video as an effective tool for outreach and dissemination. As we are in the midst of registration for those who will present a video for the 2020 STEM for All Video Showcase (ends February 10th!), we thought it timely to have a theme that would address the value of creating a short video for outreach and dissemination and the benefits that are accrued by the projects.


Rapid advancements in software, the Internet, and the related evolution in scientific and popular culture have altered the way that research and innovations are shared between scientists, researchers, educators, communicators and the public. The Internet has fostered a “participatory culture,” where individuals take an active role in the production, dissemination, and interpretation of findings (Jenkins, 2006).  “The participatory model of science relies on communication as a fundamental element. Communication is no longer a goodwill concession from scientist to society but a core requirement…” (Leon and Bourk, 2018). The participatory culture has accelerated expectations as to the speed in which findings are shared, discussed, and interpreted. It has increased access to innovations, resources, and findings for people across the globe.


Video has become a key tool for scientific communication and dissemination— both within the scientific community and with the general public (Sugimoto and Thelwall, 2013). Video is a powerful medium to identify key claims and novel findings, inviting the viewer to investigate the research more deeply (Darzentas, Goldvosky, Ouzounis, Karapiperis, & Karapiperis, 2007). It is more accessible to the non-specialist than a paper or abstract alone; it facilitates comprehension of difficult information (Korakakis et al. 2009), and transmits emotions that promote increased viewer engagement with scientific issues (León and Bourk, 2018). Especially when mediated online, video enables learning from each other at a geographic distance, in different time zones, at one’s own convenience and pace (Falk & Stroud, 2013).


Professionals from all fields have realized the potential of video and have become more confident not only as consumers, but as producers of video in order to effectively share their work (Shirky, 2011). The willingness to create video has accelerated due to the availability of relatively inexpensive, light, easy to use mobile devices for capturing video, free editing software, and platforms to broadly distribute video content. (Sørenssen, 2008). In fact, all current smartphones can shoot high-quality video with optical image.  Video production is no longer the purview of only the professional videographer. Videos do not need to be slick or professionally produced to be effective and widely consumed. A study of science communication on YouTube concludes that user-generated content was more popular than professionally generated content (Welbourne and Grant, 2016).


The STEM for All Video Showcase and the related Multiplex provide multimodal platforms for project-produced videos to be shared, discussed, and broadly disseminated.  The Showcase provides researchers and practitioners with access to current cutting-edge efforts to improve STEM, lessons learned, promising practices, challenges faced, and ways to measure impact. The discussion of each video allows for an implementation-feedback loop between researchers, educators, policy makers, and the general public. Projects have found colleagues engaged in related work, and practitioners eager to use or adapt project resources. Finally, it enhances outreach and dissemination to a broad public audience across the globe.


Our Panel:

We have invited four panelists from four very different topics to address this theme. We hope that all of you will view the four videos that their projects have created which are in the Theme of the Month playlist.


These four videos are very different from each other in how the video came to be produced, the level of production quality, the theme that it addresses, and the primary audience that the presenters hope to reach. What they all have in common is that they were very successful in reaching a very large audience who viewed and discussed the work. They were each recognized for public choice or for being most discussed. In this panel, we will probe what they did behind the scenes to make their presentation in the STEM for All Video Showcase so successful.


Danielle Espino, Sponsored Research Project Manager at Pepperdine University, presents, International Community for Collaborative Content Creation. The video features students who collaborate with one another from sixteen sites in the US, Kenya, Finland, Namibia, Mexico, Iran, and India. It explores the intersection of learning, culture, and collaboration. Students were engaged in the making of the video and in discussing it.


Barbara Rogoff, UCSC Foundation Distinguished Professor of Psychology, talks of her experience with, Collaboration as an Ensemble, which shows the impressive ways that Mexican-heritage children collaborate. This research project explores cultural differences as it compares Mexican-heritage US children to European middle-class children when engaged in planning and computer programming.


Nickolay Hristov, Associate Professor, Design Researcher and Co-PI on iSWOOP, shares his experience presenting, iSWOOP -- Behind the Lens. iSWOOP (Interpreters and Scientists Working on Our Parks) showcases scientific research happening in five national parks. The video describes a transformative model that includes the development of compelling visualizations about the innovative methods that scientists use to study the natural world. These visualizations, and the conversations they fuel, help rangers and educators reveal to visitors what can be learned from these environments.


Kate Meredith, President and Director of Education at Geneva Lake Astrophysics and STEAM at GLAS Education Inc., shares Innovators Developing Accessible Tools for Astronomy. The project explores how participation of blind and visually impaired students in a software design and development project makes astronomy image analysis accessible and influences students’ attitudes and beliefs about who can engage in STEM and computing.


This expert panel webinar will ask these presenters to speak about the experience of producing their video as well as their strategies, and “secret sauce” to get people to view their presentation, and discuss it. They will speak about their outreach and dissemination strategies, and how their video has benefitted their project. Don’t miss it! Register for the webinar today!




Darzentas, N., Goldovsky, C., Ouzounis, K., Karapiperis, K., & Karapiperis, C. (2007). Science communication media for scientists and the public. EMBO Report, 8, 886-887.


Falk, J., & Stroud, R. (2013, April). Designing an online video competition to promote professional development, mentoring, public engagement, and collegial discourse. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.


Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: NewYork University Press.


Korakakis, G., Pavlatou, E. A., Palyvos, J. A., & Spyrellis, N. (2009). 3D visualization types in multimedia applications for science learning: A case study for 8th grade students in Greece. Computers & Education, 52 (2), 390-401.


León, B., & Bourk, M. J. (2018). Investigating Science-Related Online Video. In Communicating science and technology through online video: Researching a new media phenomenon (pp. 1-14). New York: Routledge.


Shirky, C. (2011). Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators. London: Penguin Press.


Sørenssen, B. (2008). Digital video and Alexandre Astruc's camera-stylo: The new avant-garde in documentary realized? Studies in Documentary Film, 2 (1), 47-59.


Sugimoto, C. R., & Thelwall, M. (2013). Scholars on soap boxes: Science communication and dissemination in TED videos. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 64 (4), 663-674.


Welbourne, D. J., & Grant, W. J. (2016). Science communication on YouTube: Factors that affect channel and video popularity. Public Understanding of Science, 25 (6), 706-718.



View playlist related to this theme »