Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Engage! Top 6 Best Practices that Foster Learner Engagement with Online Instructional Video

Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/101653179/
I've been watching Philip Guo at the University of Rochester closely since I stumbled across his great research on instructional video usage in MOOCs. This month, he is publishing a paper for the Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Learning at Scale that has very useful recommendation on ways to foster learner engagement with online instructional video. I love this paper and you should take the time to read it in detail because it contains more than 6 recommendations. However, for those in a rush, here's my interpretation of the Top 6 of his recommendations that resonated most with me:
  1. Video length can significantly affect engagement. Shorter videos are much more engaging to learners. Invest in pre-production lesson planning to segment videos into chunks that are no longer than 6-7 minutes in length, if possible. 
  2. Videos that intersperse an instructor’s talking head (where the instructor looks directly into the camera) with slides are more engaging than slides alone. Invest in post-production editing to display the instructor’s head at opportune times in the video. Avoid displaying the instructor’s head for the entire video unless there are no slides that accompany the presentation. 
  3. Videos produced with a more personal feel could be more engaging than studio recordings. In videos where there are few slides and more video of the instructor’s talking head, try filming in an informal setting related to the subject matter of the video (i.e. office, lab, in the field, etc.) instead of a formal production studio. 
  4. For step-by-step problem solving walkthroughs, Khan Academy-style tablet drawing tutorials are more engaging than slides alone. 
  5. Videos where instructors speak fairly fast and with high enthusiasm are more engaging (especially for instructors who's native language is the same as the language of the course). The pace can be accelerated compared to conventional face-to-face lectures. This also has the indirect positive effect of keeping video length shorter (see point 1 above). During post production, consider removing some speech pauses including “umms” and “ahhs” if they are present too frequently. 
  6. Learners engage differently with lecture-style conceptual videos compared to step-by-step walkthrough procedural tutorial videos. For lectures-style, focus more on the providing a good first-watch experience from beginning to end. For step-by-step walkthrough tutorials, make it easy to rewatch and/or skim the video. For example, clearly number the “step” in the process as the process develops so that students can easily orient themselves in the tutorial video when they re-watch relevant parts. 
What do you think of these 6 best practices?  Do you have experience with any of them?  Would you add any others to this list?

4 comments:

Jennifer Schultz said...

Great tips Eric - small things such as the filming location and a variety of shots (slides, person talking) can make a big difference. I also think from a student/learner perspective, videos in general are a great way to be engaging and break up course content. With the added benefit of having continual access to a video so you can replay or pause when you need to.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Eric. We practice many of these but need to investigate incorporating the talking head, though most of our team's desktop computers do not have a camera.

Talking faster might not be best practice in our university environment, where several employees have English as a second language. Incorporating slide notes helps with that but in general most prefer to listen rather than read.

Eric Tremblay said...

That's a great comment about the non-native English speakers. Maybe I'll adjust that point to include your idea. Thank you for the feedback!

Emma Velle said...

Great tips Eric, thanks for sharing.

I also agree about the pace at which the talking head speaks. I think that enthusiasm is key and pace should be measured with respect to the audience.