Visual sizzle

Student-made videos in the classroom

By Shondra Johnson, CFE; and George R. Young, Ph.D., CFE, CPA
shondra-johnson-80x80   george-young-80x70   Fraud Edge: A forum for fraud-fighting faculty in higher ed


Where do students go for replays of late-night TV shows? Latest music hits? Viral news? They usually watch Internet videos. YouTube is one of their favorite websites. William Ferriter and Adam Garry, authors of the e-book “Teaching the iGeneration,” determined that nearly 80 percent of the U.S. Internet population watch videos online each month. So, if you were to give your students an assignment to create videos for learning more about fraud examination, we’re guessing they’d say, “Awesome!” 

Video making allows them to be creative and tell stories. Also, “student generated videos can be a basis for Project Based Learning, which encourages critical thinking, collaboration, and communication, and takes them to higher levels in Bloom’s Taxonomy,” according to the article, “Student Generated Videos” on the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology site. The process helps them think critically, develop communication skills and collaborate with one another, particularly if they make videos together in groups.

However, we present this video approach with caution: Although our students are tech-savvy, not all of us educators are sophisticated enough to require student-made videos as assignments without encountering a few challenges. The University of Pennsylvania provides guidance to educators to minimize student and educator frustration


Students may experience frustration during the assignment if you don’t carefully lead them through the planning process. They probably won’t realize how much time it will take to produce their videos. Therefore, write the assignment so that it promotes meticulous student planning, which will increase the possibility that they’ll be efficient and productive. Clearly state the purpose in the directions you give at the beginning of the course, such as: Students will produce videos of ethical scenarios, either real or imagined, depicting fraudulent activity, cover-up of that activity and investigation of the fraud. 

Resist the urge to provide them with appealing fraud scenarios; most prefer to develop their own creative solutions. However, restrict them to fraud schemes that will lend themselves well to videos, such as ghost employees, sales skimming, invoicing via shell companies and employee theft of inventory. Restricting types of schemes also will reduce production time. Make sure they realistically portray organizations with at least some internal controls. Also, emphasize that their videos should address how companies can change their controls to reduce the possibilities of frauds reoccurring. 

Ethical dilemmas also make a video more interesting. For instance, if collusion is part of the scheme, then including some footage of the ethical dilemma provides value to fellow students.

Require students to submit one-page general descriptions of their videos three weeks before filming. They don’t have to provide details because they’ll probably work most of them out while shooting. (Early disputes about details could alienate group members even before they get started.) 

For a non-fraud movie summary, see “Kermit’s Swamp Years.” As in this example, students should include a cast list of all actors and team members. (Students can invite their friends to also be cast members.)  

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