In the short film, Mr Russell congratulates successful students and talks up the contribution of the "excellent staff" employed by colleges.
In an email to the sector, Scottish Government officials suggest they show the video at graduation ceremonies or post it on their websites.
However, Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman Mary Scanlon attacked the move and highlighted the significant cuts to college budgets in recent years. In August, Audit Scotland warned that lecturers at Scottish colleges faced another wave of job losses as a result of cuts of 11% by 2014/15 - amounting to £62 million.
Ms Scanlon said: "This is supposed to be a day of celebration ... and shouldn't be used as a chance to grandstand by the Education Secretary."