How To



There are six design principles that guide the creation of an anchored video. We recommend using these principles, with some modification if needed, for a variety of domains, including science, mathematics and reading. These design principles mutually influence one another and operate as a Gestalt, rather than a set of independent features of the materials.

  • The videos usually have a narrative format, that is, they tell a story.
  • The videos are generative in design, that is, they led the viewer to think about problems and sub problems that are in the anchor
  • The anchors often include embedded data. This allows the student to generate problem-solving goals, find relevant information, and engage in reasoned decision making
  • The problems are complex, requiring multiple steps to solve. This imitates real world problem solving.
  • The use of video is incorporated to make the complexity manageable.
  • The video format also makes it easier to embed the kinds of information that provide opportunities for links across the curricula.


There are many different types of anchor videos that can be created. One criteria that we use that we believe is effective is the idea of how generative the video is that we are creating. If we think of the idea of generativity across a continuum a less generative video would be very structured and contain specific problems students are to answer. If we think of a more generative video, we would be creating a very unstructured video in terms of specific problems students are to solve. Note, unstructured DOES NOT relate to the story of the video, but rather how clearly articulated the problems are that students are to solve.

Here are some examples:

Scientists in Action - very structured, questions are given to students at multiple points in the video

Jasper - structured, questions are given to students at the end of the video

Golden Idol - structured, questions are given to students at the end of the video

Mission to Mars - unstructured, students must generate their own questions to the problem  of planning a Mission to the planet Mars.

Making a Quality Video

Making a Storyboard

About Anchored Instruction