How to Improve Engagement and Impact of Video-Based Learning
Whenever a new communication medium arrives, people first tend to use it just like how they used existing media. For instance, many early television shows were simply radio broadcasts filmed on video, early digital textbooks were simply scanned versions of paper books, and the first online educational videos were videotaped in-person lectures. As time progresses, people eventually develop creative ways to take full advantage of the new medium. The findings from a study from can help inform instructors and video producers on how to make the most of online videos for education.
Philip J. Guo, MIT CSAIL / University of Rochester, Juho Kim MIT CSAIL, Rob Rubin edX
Since engagement is a necessary (although not sufficient) prerequisite for learning, also commercial video hosting providers such as YouTube and Wistia use engagement as a key metric for viewer satisfaction. This paper presents an empirical study of students’ engagement with MOOC videos, as measured by how long students are watching each video, and whether they attempt to answer post-video assessment problems.
Here are major findings and recommendations from the paper.
- Shorter videos are much more engaging. Recommendation: Invest heavily in pre-production lesson planning to segment videos into chunks shorter than 6 minutes.
- Videos that intersperse an instructor’s talking head are more engaging than slides alone. Recommendation: Invest in post-production editing to display the with slides instructor’s head at opportune times in the video.
- Videos produced with a more personal feel could be more engaging than high-fidelity studio recordings. Recommendation: Try filming in an informal setting; it might not be necessary to invest in big-budget studio productions.
- Khan-style tablet drawing tutorials are more engaging than PowerPoint slides or code screencasts. Recommendation: Introduce motion and continuous visual flow into tutorials, along with extemporaneous speaking.
- Even high quality pre-recorded classroom lectures are not as engaging when chopped up for a MOOC. Recommendation: If instructors insist on recording classroom lectures, they should still plan with the MOOC format in mind.
- Videos where instructors speak fairly fast and with high enthusiasm are more engaging. Recommendation: Coach instructors to bring out their enthusiasm and reassure that they do not need to purposely slow down.
- Students engage differently with lecture and tutorial videos. Recommendation: For lectures, focus more on the first-watch experience; for tutorials, add support for rewatching and skimming.
Furthermore, CSAIL team developed LectureScape, a “YouTube for MOOCs” that seeks to reinvent how online learners watch videos. LectureScape uses data on viewing behavior — particularly the “interaction peaks” that correspond to points of interest or confusion — to present MOOC videos in a way that’s more intuitive, dynamic, and effective.
The group’s previous work on the tutorial-focused platform ToolScape (PDF) demonstrated that users learn more effectively with this type of interface. Traditional MOOC metrics, such as completion rates, are “too simplistic,” and don’t account for the many learners seeking specific skills (versus intending to formally finish a course).
Watch the presentation from Juho Kim, the brain behind LectureScape: