Friday, September 27, 2013

Creating Effective Instructional Videos

Most of these tips are based on the research on multimedia learning conducted by Dr. Richard E Mayer. 

Keep it short. People's attention spans are only about 5 minutes long. Really. A 50-minute class session is definitely not ideal.
  • A nice thing about online videos is that students can watch them in small pieces and take a break in between. 
  • With short videos, students can easily review just the concept they need later rather than having to scrub through a long video to find it.
  • You can still share the same content as you would in a 50-minute lecture; just break it down into smaller chunks. 
  • You'll probably find you are more concise when creating videos - there's less misspeaking (or you can fix it) and no housekeeping or questions like you have in a classroom. Questions can be in a Q & A discussion forum.
  • A maximum of 10 minutes per video is recommended. 
  • Short videos are also much easier and faster for your computer to produce and if something happens and your work is lost, it is less traumatic :)
Speak from an outline. If you just start speaking without much of a plan, you are more likely to meander and misspeak and then will have to edit more later, or have not as good of a product. However, you don't want to sound like you're reading because people learn better from a conversational voice, so an outline may be better than a script you'd read word-for-word. People are less tolerant of confusing or meandering online tutorials than they would be if you are presenting face-to-face, so it's important to be very clear.

People learn better from words and graphics/images together than they do from words alone.
Include visuals as much as possible, if you can't find a relevant graphic, do not put in something decorative. People will try to make sense of it, distracting them from learning.

Mayer's research is primarily on words + images - not always video in particular. So, if text and images are all you need, that's can work fine. Not everything needs to be a video. However, people generally learn better from audio narration than on-screen text, so it is ideal if you can provide audio.

Don't read on screen text out loud. This is called the redundancy principle. If students are reading visually and listening to you, neither is happening effectively. If they have to read something, pause to give them time. It is not as bad to read on-screen text out loud when no graphic is present (but it can get pretty boring to have someone read PowerPoint slides out loud. Maybe just write a document if you find yourself doing this.).
Keep it simple.
  • Background music and unnecessary color hinders learning. 
  • Also, you may be tempted to tell them everything you know, but focus on what they need to accomplish the course objectives and consider providing opportunities for more advanced learning separately.
Provide small self-checks in or near the tutorials. Use it or lose it! In Kaltura, quiz questions can be added that pop up while students are watching the video. These can help students reinforce the main points of your tutorials or at least wake them up a little :) Make sure they are using the content somewhere in your class, or they may quit watching. 

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