Designing Videos For Learning

22 Jun

Thomas Edison, in 1913, had predicted:

“Books will soon be obsolete in the public schools. Scholars will be instructed through the eye. It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture. Our school system will be completely changed inside of ten years.”

It never happened. Books are still in widespread use though the format is slowly and gradually moving from print to digital. The “motion picture” or videos are being used for at least a decade for education, but no significant impact has been reported thereby preventing their mainstream adoption. The Khan Academy, thanks to Bill Gates, has achieved an unprecedented fame for its video-based learning platform. Many startups (Kno, Inkling) and established companies are using videos to enrich their eBooks, but are the videos really having an impact on students’ learning?

It’s said that if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand pictures (or a million words). Is it true? Not always. Why not? Because a video has to be designed in such a way as to convey the meaning of the words in an efficient and effective manner, and it has to engage the viewer. There are some guidelines that can be followed to design videos for educational settings.

  1. The first few seconds of the video are the most important moments to gain students’ attention. An AdAge research on YouTube showed that about 20% viewers abandon the video in the first 10 seconds, 33% in 30 seconds, and as much as 60% within 2 minutes.
  2. The video should not be more than 2 minutes long.
  3. The video must engage students by generating curiosity and gaining attention and motivating them to watch other videos or read the chapter to learn more. The video should raise questions that are answered in the chapter.
  4. A video at the beginning of a chapter doesn’t have to directly deal with the contents of the chapter. However, it should be relevant to the chapter at a high level.
  5. The content of the video should focus on the learning outcome.
  6. What are the topics that engage students? Relevance to their lives is very important, something that they feel strongly about.
  7. Smartphone, iPad, sports, student loan, music, movies, and Facebook are some of the topics that engage students.
  8. Politics, laptops, books, economy, and workplace are some of the topics that do not engage students.
  9. The video should show something interesting, unusual, surprising, or shocking things, people, or events.
  10. The best option is to show something that evokes emotions such as excitement, happiness, optimism, inspiration, or sadness.
  11. The audio voice over in the video should sound enthusiastic and conversational.
  12. The video should also raise questions that directly or indirectly relate to the contents of the chapter – Why did a particular team win or lose? How did your favorite music band come up with a great song? How many friends can you have in the real world? Which is the happiest country in the world and why? Why do gas prices go up in summer? What are the new high-growth careers?
  13. If the video doesn’t answer these questions, the students will feel compelled to read the chapter to find the answers.
  14. The video may be followed by a few questions to make sure the students watched and understood the video.

Suggested Readings
The Evolution of Classroom Technology
It is not television anymore: Designing digital video for learning and assessment

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