Video is pervasive in education. Most online courses feature an average of 12 videos, and that number is increasing. But as courses compete with Snapchat for students’ attention, it can be tough for an educational video to engage students. An online video has about 10 seconds to engage a student’s interest before the student clicks elsewhere.
MIT and EdX recently completed the largest-scale study of video in online courses. They collected data from 6.9 million video sessions and used this data to determine what types of videos best engage students. Engagement was measured by how long students stayed “tuned in” to a video, and whether the video elicited the desired responses during post-video assessments.
Their findings are interesting, and teachers should consider them carefully when creating their own educational videos.
- Shorter Videos are more engaging – Invest more time in pre-planning your videos so as to segment content into chunks no longer than 6 minutes
- Videos that intersperse an instructor’s talking head with slides are more effective than slides alone – Utilize post-production editing to display the instructor at opportune times in the video. Software such as Camtasia makes this fairly easy. Camtasia can record both your webcam and computer screen at the same time. You an then choose when to display the screen or the instructor.
- Videos produced with a more personal feel are often more engaging than high-fidelity studio recordings – Try filming in an informal setting; it may not be necessary to invest in big budget studio productions. Often a webcam on your computer or even a smartphone are the best tools you have. When coupled with a bit of your own personality, even a simple video can be memorable.
- Khan-style tablet drawing tutorials are more engaging than PowerPoint slides or code screencasts – Introduce motion and continuous visual flow into tutorials. This can be accomplished with inexpensive Wacom tablets or with mobile apps, such as Educreations
- For online courses, even the highest quality classroom capture lectures are not as engaging as videos customized for an online audience – If you insist on recording classroom lectures, it is best to keep the online audience and online format in mind. What works well in a classroom with face-to-face students may not engage those watching from home. Too often, online students feel like “second rate citizens” when they are forced only to watch classroom’s captured with a camera at the back of the room. Raw classroom capture is not as effective as shorter videos that are planned and produced just for your online audience.
- Videos where instructors speak fairly fast and with high enthusiasm are more engaging –You do not need to purposely slow down. Enthusiasm and excitement for the topic are important. Don’t worry about recording perfect videos; just let your love for the topic you teach come through.
- Students engage differently with lecture and tutorial videos – For lectures, focus more on the initial viewing experience, since students may only watch once. For tutorials, add support for re-watching and skimming.