Documentary videos are professionally produced educational videos that are most often intended for television and DVD distribution. There are three basic types:

  1. Interview Documentary: Shot on a set, sometimes with a single talking head, but more often using a host-and-guest interview format.
  2. On-Location Documentary: Shot on location, often with an over-voice narrative.
  3. Animated Documentary: Created with animation effects or virtual reality.

From a scholar's study to the streets of Paris and the sands of Mars. Documentary videos present important facts and stir the imagination. Such videos commonly do more to excite a sense of wonder, creativity, and commitment to learning than offer up a lot of objective facts. This is the main point of difference between documentary videos and the classroom and tutorial presentations.

  • The lengths of documentary videos are adjusted for standard broadcast time slots: a bit less than 30 minutes, or a few minutes short of an hour.
  • The content of documentary videos is directed to the viewer; however, the depth of the presentation is more to the liking and attention span of a general audience of viewer than a serious student of the subject.

So the first time you watch a particular documentary video, just relax and absorb the over-all impressions the producer is trying to convey. You are looking more for perspective than a lot of detail. But of course you  might come upon some important new facts and ideas that you justify a second or third viewing. Of course you should record your impressions and fresh ideas in your learning journal.

 Generally speaking, however, you can at least count on documentary videos as a boosters for your academic morale and a guides for keeping your studies directed and meaningful.


With documentary videos, just relax and absorb the feeling of the presentation. You are looking for perspective, and not so much for detail. Perhaps you need a booster for your academic morale. Good documentary videos can do that. But don't count on them as a primary source of information. Use them to help keep your studies directed and inspired.




David L. Heiserman, Editor

Copyright   SweetHaven Publishing Services
All Rights Reserved

Revised: June 06, 2015