Oppida talks: the use of video in online learning

This article was originally published by Oppida.co here.

In this Oppida talks video, CEO Bianca Raby discusses the best and most effective approaches to using video in online learning.

It’s one thing to stream a lecture live from your living room (complete with video-bombing cat) during a COVID-19 lockdown. It’s another thing altogether when you set out to create videos as part of an online education course. In that case, you’re designing specifically for the online learning experience as part of a digital education strategy. At Oppida, we’re all about ensuring that our teaching videos are effective — here’s how we do it.

The first thing is to decide whether a video is actually necessary. Check out our earlier blog: Do your online courses need video? 7 must-ask questions to help you decide to be sure that video is the right medium to teach your particular learning outcome. Then if you go ahead with the video, keep the following key points in mind.

Use audio and visuals together to present new information

Video creates the opportunity to provide audio and visual material simultaneously and in an integrated way. According to the cognitive theory of multimedia learning, working memory has two channels to acquire and process new information: a visual/pictorial channel and an auditory/verbal processing channel (Mayer and Moreno, 2003). Using both channels together, and matching audio and video which complement each other enhances both information integration and retention in learners.

Keep it short

In the video Bianca notes that we’re designing for a 5-minute attention span. This is supported by a study of almost 7 million MOOC video viewings, which found that 5–6 minutes is the optimum length for a teaching video (Guo, Kim and Rubin, 2014). Beyond that, viewer engagement falls off dramatically. The best idea is to segment the material into meaningful snack-size chunks by keeping the focus narrow. If there’s more material to cover, make another video. Avoid using images which don’t support the audio — they are a distraction. Use minimal music or sound effects at meaningful moments only.

Make it active and interactive

Encourage learners to actively process the information by using guiding questions and guided activity, and by allowing opportunities for reflection. Video allows learners to control the pace, stop to reflect or take action, and to repeat sections if they need to. Use tools to make it easier to navigate within the video, and signal key material through colour changes, symbols and sounds.

Make it personal and targeted

The 2014 Guo study found that students are more engaged by watching a “talking head” than by slideshows, so make sure you’re video-ready. Speak in a conversational style rather than a formal lecturing tone, and if you have to read from a script, use a teleprompter, cue cards or a tablet. Rehearse enough that your delivery flows as naturally as possible. Speak clearly and with enthusiasm directly to the camera. Make an emotional connection by telling a story rather than providing a dull narration. Define your target audience, and use verbal and text clues to indicate that the material has been designed and presented just for them.

Mix it up but don’t overload with text

Use a variety of visuals — moving images, close-ups, stills, slow-motion, and animation. Use as little text as possible, in bulleted points, and in a clear easy-to-read font. Layout should be clear and easy to follow.

Expand the learning space

Use the power of video to take learners out of the classroom on virtual tours or site visits. This doesn’t necessitate high production values, although it’s important to ensure that the image is steady (use a tripod) and the sound is clear and without wind noise. Check out our super tips for home-made/low budget teaching video production here.

We’ve summarised the material above into a free downloadable for you — help yourself here: Top ten things to consider when designing teaching videos.

References/further information

Cognitive theory and multimedia learning

Research and best practice

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We are digital education agency that designs, develops and enhances learning experiences

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Oppida

Oppida

We are digital education agency that designs, develops and enhances learning experiences

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