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Over the past several years, the use of video in classrooms has become increasingly common for student learning. A study in 2011 (Bravo et al.,2011) used educational videos around four minutes long, and showed that streaming videos used as an educational support tool had a positive effect on not only their learning, but their motivation to learn.But what is the most effective use of video in lectures? What types of video are the most useful? Is it video pertaining to the subject matter being taught or any type of video? Where should it be used? And most importantly, as educators how can we use video effectively with the most positive impact on student learning? There are several articles and studies on the use of videos of specific disciplines (for example, biology), but I feel the information in them is pertinent and can be expanded to other academic and practical disciplines, such as the elements of technical theatre.
Why is the use of video in learning so effective? And how does it become a productive part of the learning process? According to Brame (2016), there are three elements that must be considered when using video as a supplementary aid: cognitive learning, student engagement, and active learning. Cognitive load theory has several components (Sweller 1988, 1989, 1994). Sensory memory transmits pertinent information to working memory, which is part of the process for storing information into long term memory. However, working memory has a limited capacity so the learner must be selective about what information they absorb from their sensory memory during learning. This is important to consider in the development of educational materials.
Cognitive load theory states that learning is comprised of three components: intrinsic load (complexity or difficulty involved in certain tasks), germane load (result of a constructive method of handling information that contributes to learning) and extraneous load (information that does not contribute to student learning). As educators, we should seek to minimise the extraneous load that is presented to students, and consider how to construct educational experiences that may have a high intrinsic load. Working memory has a limited capacity, and information must be processed by working memory to be stored into long term memory, it’s important that working memory accepts, processes, and sends the most crucial information to long term memory in an efficient manner (Ibrahim et al., 2012).
While working memory has a limited capacity of what it can store, there are two channels it uses to process information: verbal/auditory and visual/pictoral (Mayer and Moreno, 2003). The two channels, however, can work together to maximise the amount of information processed and stored. Effective use of video as a teaching tool can maximise the amount of information processed from sensory and working memory to be ultimately stored in a student’s long term memory.
Brame (2016) suggests four recommendations on using video effectively in regards to cognitive load theory: signalling, segmenting, weeding, and matching modality.
Signalling can be anything from important words highlighted on the screen to symbols pointing to important information. This grabs the students’ attention, hopefully signalling that it needs to be processed in the working memory for storage in long term memory. It has been shown that students retain information better when it is conferred to them in this way through animations and video (Mayer and Moreno 2003; deKoning et al., 2012; Ibrahim et al., 2012). If used properly, signalling reduces the amount of extraneous load, and increases the germane load within student learning.
Segmenting is putting the information into smaller chunks, allowing the students to process new information in a way that does not overload their intrinsic load. How can segmenting being effectively used with supplementary video? In two ways: either through short videos or by using “click forward” prompts. With the “click forward” videos, students are asked to answer a question or series of questions reviewing the material presented to them, before proceeding to the next section of video. While both types of segmenting videos have shown to be effective overall within student learning and engagement (Guo et al., 2014; Zhang et al., 2005, Ibrahim 2012), I will probably use short video clips as opposed to “click forward” type videos. To use video effectively, it needs to be supplementary as opposed to the main bulk of the lecture. I feel that the “click forward” type videos can very easily become the lecture.
Weeding is getting rid of the information that has nothing to do with overall learning. This can be background music or a busy looking slide. All it does is contribute to the extraneous load on the student, and reduces their potential to learn the material being presented.
Matching modality is targeting both visual/pictoral and verbal/auditory channels of working memory. It is important that the image and the words complement each other, for instance an animation with a voiceover explaining what is happening instead of an animation with explanatory text.
So what does it mean to use video effectively as a teaching tool? It is important to not inundate either channel of working memory with a high cognitive load. Videos must be designed in such a way that they enhance learning, as opposed to being detrimental to it. According to Mayer and Moreno (2003), any learning must be “meaningful learning”. This requires students to firstly pay attention to the material being presented to them then formulating the material into an intelligible structure, and finally fusing existing knowledge with the new material.
Video was used in an online introductory course in computer science and mathematics. The result, according to Hsin and Cigas (2013), was a significantly higher number of students were involved and their average grades increased. Steffes and Duverger (2012) took a slightly different approach and used what they called entertainment videos. They played the videos at the beginning of lectures and noticed that this improved the mood of students.
But what, as educators should we use? Which is more effective? How long should the be? In Ljubojevic, Vaskovic, Stankovic, and Vaskovic (2014), conducted a study involving 46 undergraduate students from the same academic course at a university in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Both educational and entertainment videos were used, and they were placed at the beginning, middle, and end of lectures. Three types of lectures were created: no supplementary video, entertainment supplementary video and educational supplementary video. Each lecture with video was presented with the videos at the beginning, middle, and end of lectures. All of the videos were linked from YouTube. Two types of research instruments were created to test the students learning and quality of experience after each lecture. Test questions were given to test the students’ knowledge, and averages taken. The second research method was a 5 point MOS scale used to measure the overall quality of the student experience. Overall, an educational video inserted in the middle of a presentation obtained the highest overall number of correct answers, followed by entertainment videos inserted into the middle of a lecture. The lowest number of correct answers was achieved by using a continuous lecture. Both types of videos were received positively by students, but the educational videos were viewed as having the most impact on students feeling confident about their answers to the test questions. The entertainment videos were found to have a positive impact on engaging and motivating the students in the subject matter. The results of this study show that the the use of video, both educational and entertainment, impact student learning and engagement in a positive manner. The study also highlighted the importance of video design, as the educational content the supplemented the lecture had the greatest impact.
Is it possible for entertainment videos to have the same effect as educational videos? Berk (2009) suggests that it is, if used properly. Video selection is important. Is it offensive? Is it relevant? Berk suggests the following procedure for using video clips:
1. Pick a particular clip to provide the content or illustrate a concept or principle
(Note: If you want students to view the entire movie, assign that viewing outside of
2. Prepare specific guidelines for students or discussion questions so they have
directions on what to see, hear, and look for. What’s the point of the clip? Make it
clear to the students;
3. Introduce the video briefly to reinforce purpose;
4. Play the clip;
5. Stop the clip at any scene to highlight a point or replay clip for a specific in-class
6. Set a time for reflection on what was scene;
7. Assign an active learning activity to interact on specific questions, issues, or
concepts in clip; and
8. Structure a discussion around those questions in small and/or large group format. (2009, p 10).
By using entertainment videos, you are immediately grabbing the students’ attention, and they are more likely to be engaged. By following Berk’s suggestions, you are now relating what they have seen to the material or subject matter being taught.
In conclusion, various studies have shown that video can be used effectively to supplement learning in higher education. By using video to supplement learning, students are able to process information from their working memory more effectively into long term memory. Video is a key player in the cognitive learning of student. Placement of video is key, being most effective inserted into the middle of a lecture. The clips need to be short in order to maintain student attention and engagement. While some studies have shown educational videos relating to the subject matter are the most effective in terms students retaining information, entertainment videos have been shown to be effective in maintaining student engagement in motivation. However, with careful planning and using techniques such as leading questions, entertainment videos can tie in nicely with the subject matter being presented.
How can I use video effectively in the future? First and foremost, I can use it to demonstrate how just by changing the soundscape in a short clip of a television show can change the mood from horror to comedy. I can also use time lapse videos to show the complexities of theatrical get-ins for different sized venues as this is something my students cannot participate in. I am also thinking about how I can create instructional videos for various pieces of software that I teach in addition to the powerpoint slide presentations. I think it is finding the right balance between educational and entertainment videos, and constructing the right kind of presentation and group discussion surrounding it.
- Berk, R. A. (2009). Multimedia teaching with video clips: TV, movies, YouTube, and mtvU in the college classroom. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 5(1), 1–21.
- Brame, C.J (2016) Effective Educational Videos: Principles and Guidelines for Maximizing Student Learning from Video Content. CBE—Life Sciences Education • 15:es6, 1–6, Winter 2016
- deKoning B, Tabbers H, Rikers R, and Paas F (2009). Towards a framework for attention cueing in instructional animations: Guidelines for research and design. Educational Psychology Review 21, 113-140.
- Guo PJ, Kim J, and Robin R (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. ACM Conference on Learning at Scale ([email protected] 2014); found at http://groups.csail.mit.edu/uid/other-pubs/las2014-pguo-engagement.pdf.
- Hsin, W. J., & Cigas, J. (2013). Short videos improve student learning in online education. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 28(5), 253-259.
- Ibrahim M, Antonenko PD, Greenwood CM, and Wheeler D (2012). Effects of segmenting, signaling, and weeding on learning from educational video. Learning, Media and Technology 37, 220-235.
- Ljubojevic, M., Vaskovic, V., Stankovic S., and Vaskovic J. (2014) Using Supplementary Video in Multimedia Instruction as a Teaching Tool to Increase Efficiency of Learning and Quality of Experience. The International Review of Open and Distance Learning, 275-291, July 2014.
- Mayer RE, Moreno R (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multime-dia learning. Educ Psychol 38, 43–52.
- Steffes, E. M., & Duverger, P. (2012). Edutainment with videos and its positive effect on long term memory. Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education, 20(1).
- Using Supplementary Video in Multimedia Instruction as a Teaching Tool to Increase Efficiency of Learning
- Sweller J (1988). Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning. Cognitive Science 12, 257-285.
- Sweller J (1989). Cognitive technology: Some procedures for facilitating learning and problem- solving in mathematics and science. Journal of Educational Psychology 81, 457-466.
- Sweller J (1994). Cognitive load theory, learning difficulty, and instructional design. Learning and Instruction 4, 295-312.
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