Adding Active Learning Strategies To Passive Video Watching To Increase Effectiveness

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Watching online video has gone from being a niche activity to mainstream.

The implications of online video growth are huge for brands, organizations as well as learning.

Yet watching a video is a passive experience. And often our minds jump to couch potato mode, conditioned by watching years of TV in passive mindsets.

Tips To Increase Video Learning Effectiveness

Here are several tips to help increase learning in a primarily passive experience—video watching.

1. Keep The Videos Short

Most viewers won’t commit 15- to 60-minutes for educational based videos. They prefer two- to three-minutes. If you have a long video divide it into separate sections and running times. (See #3.)

2. Guide Viewers To The Important Stuff

Help the viewers focus their attention on the important points and concepts. Give them questions to answer while viewing the video.

3. Label And Link Headlines With Running Times

Use concise linked headlines that label the different running times of the video. This provides a visual outline of the video that intentionally reinforces the contextual information. And it helps viewers jump to critical information

4. Encourage Bite-Size Viewing And Reviewing

When you use linked headlines and divide the video up into short running times, learners can fit the viewing into their busy schedules. They can take advantage of unexpected downtimes.

5. Post A Transcript Of The Audio

Allow the learner to access both the video and text versions of the recording. Being able to read the transcript and watch the video enhances their learning.

6. Embed Short Self-Assessments In The Video

Include short self assessments with one or two multiple choice or open ended questions after each critical section. Use a video editing tool to embed these assessments. Show a countdown clock allowing time to answer the assessment and then show the correct answer. Add a link to the answer in case they got it wrong and need to review that section again.

7. Encourage Posting To An Online Discussion

Ask your viewers to post answers to a couple of questions in an online discussion. Ask for their immediate reactions, something that they found interesting or confusing, something that connects to past sessions, or requests for clarification.

8. Create A Catalysts For Critical Thinking

Learners can either give their focused attention to watching the video or thinking about it. They can’t do both at the same time. Give the viewers a couple of higher-level thinking questions such as comparing and contrasting major concepts or analyzing how the information applies to their profession. Have them post their thoughts online or discuss in groups.

9. Always Allow Video Controls

Allowing the learner to pause, replay, reverse or change speed of the video is a critical component to increasing learning. Describe graphics with audio and allow control of the various steps. Researchers Schwan and Riempp (2004) found that those who viewed a routine task video without controls took 66% to 95% longer to learn the skills than those that could control the video.

10. Keep Visuals Simple

Showing video of real-life complex concepts can overload the brain’s memory capacity. Researchers Mayer, Hegarty, et al. (2005) found that simple, static graphics were better than or as good as animated versions. Consider showing the real-life concept, then go through the steps with static images. If you have a complex animation, consider pausing it and adding narration and visual cues such as circles or color to draw attention to relevant parts.

Mayer, R.E., Hegarty, S. Mayer, & J. Campbell. (2005) When static media promote active learning: Annotated illustrations versus narrated animations in multimedia learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 11, 256-65.

Schwann, S., & R. Riempp. (2004).The cognitive benefits of interactive videos: Learning to tie nautical knots. Learning & Instruction 14, 293-305.

What tips would you add to this list to increase the learning effectiveness of videos? What are your go-video sharing sites that use frequently?

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  1. Clipatize says:

    Thanks for those reliable tips. I think the most important thing is to make the clip as short as possible but still full of the most important information. Of course longer videos can be also valuable but when you already have the viewer’s attention. Moreover, if you made video in your native language, you MUST add the English subtitles – it will highly improve the number of views. Regards!

    1. Jeff Hurt says:


      Thanks for reading and commenting. I agree with you that the clip should be short and include the critical information. Your addition of using English subtitles is an important one too. Glad you added that.

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