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Heard at Campus Technology 2017: Video’s Effect on Student Learning

July 18, 2017

This is part of a series highlighting some of the sessions from Campus Technology 2017 this week in Chicago, Ill.

Video isn’t new. It’s everywhere. You can learn to change your oil, reupholster your sofa or sew a sweater on YouTube. So why wouldn’t students learn with video?

That’s what Sarah Kunze, instructional designer at Colgate University, told an audience at Campus Technology 2017 today. She said a three-to-four minute video has about the same amount of content as a 500 word essay, but a video is a concise fusion of all the most important ideas.

“(Videos) are really powerful tools for students to learn,” Kunze said.

Research from Gavriel Salomon – Interaction of Media, Cognition and Learning: An Exploration of How Symbolic Forms Cultivate Mental Skills and Affect Knowledge Acquisition — suggests that students learn new and abstract concepts more easily when presented in visual forms.

And Daniel Willingham’s book “Why Don’t Students Like School?” A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom,” asks why students remember everything they see on TV but forget the lecture, citing that video is the perfect medium for students who are auditory and visual learners.

“Since our goal is to get students energized and engaged in the learning process, we’re encouraged … that video is compelling and generates student interest,” said Kelly Dempsey, instructional designer at Colgate University.

Dempsey presented five best practices for instructors to consider when creating academic video.

  1. Keep it short. The three to five minute chunks are ideal. This really allows students to digest the material and rewind and pause and return to it later if necessary. This is also key for the instructors if they go in and edit. If they only have a five minute video it’s much easier for them to edit than if they have a 25 or a 55 minute video.
  2. Plan out ahead of time. This is where partnering with an instructional designer is really important. If they have a clear learning goal in mind beforehand and plan out the lesson with the storyboarding process it makes it much better. We always do this with each faculty member before each recording session.
  3. Use Visuals. A talking head can sometimes be hard for students to follow so the lightboard is ideal for bringing in PowerPoint slides, drawings and your face all at the same time.
  4. Embed questions. Pause to ask students question as they watch the lecture to check for learning. Programs like EDPuzzle allow you to embed questions students need to answer before they continue.
  5. Be yourself. This is not a Hollywood production. Act as you would in class. It’s ok to stumble over a word or two or correct yourself if you make a mistake. This allows students to see your personality and connect with what makes you unique as an instructor.


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