A study investigating the effectiveness of two teaching approaches, illustrated text-based versus video-based, concluded the following:

“Video-based eLearning is superior to illustrated text-based eLlearning when teaching certain practical skills.”

The explosive popularity of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) has further stressed one key fact: If instructional designers want to engage learners in a way that produces a high percentage of content absorption, then video-based eLearning is the way to do it, especially when teaching practical, hands-on courses.

Here are four best practices that eLearning content creators should follow when producing video-based course materials.

man juggling1. Movement Over Static: The psychology of learners is such that if they are left staring at static images for too long, their attention tends to “drift,” especially if the presenter is not engaging enough. If video courses are based on highly static content – such as flow charts, maps, or symbols – then some level of interactivity should be added to spice things up! For example, instructional designers may add quiz questions or gamification elements after each video segment.

Recommendation: Rather than converting boring static PowerPoint slides or stock photos into videos, course designers should consider creating graphics with movement, or videos of the instructor drawing the sketch on a digital screen – like Khan-style video courses.

someone bored at their desk2. Keep It Short: Empirical studies suggest that shorter length videos are more likely to be watched in their entirety, allowing learners to digest a particular thought, idea, or concept in a single sitting. These same studies also show that learners who sit through lengthier learning video sessions are more likely to do poorly on post-video quizzes and tests.

Recommendation: Research on video-based learning indicates that the ideal length of a video clip is no longer than 6 minutes. Anything longer than that will lead to learners’ disengagement.

different types of media3. Use Mixed Media: Many practical eLearning courses (Engineering, IT, Clinical Studies) are based on massive doses of slides, diagrams, and tables. If a video continually presents this content to the audience, learners’ motivation will immediately drop.

Recommendation: According to research, if the presentation is slide-heavy, it is best to intersperse slide-based videos with a “talking head” of an avatar or presenter.

video shoot4. Go Informal: Many videos are filmed inside professional studios or in drab classroom settings. Research suggests that such videos are not only more costly to make, but often bore students into disengagement.

Recommendation: Consider filming in an informal setting. For instance, a real manager’s office may be a perfect place to film a course on performance improvement.

It is great to produce shock-giving videos to get learners’ attention. However, keeping learners engaged for a longer time is another challenge. Using highly enthusiastic presenters in eLearning videos will “transfer” some of the speakers’ energy to the learners.

Additionally, research conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Education indicates that learners are best served if they are encouraged to explore the course subject matter first (on their own), before engaging with the video content. Therefore, instructional designers may want to consider creating pre-course materials, such as articles or booklets that briefly introduce a training topic.

CourseArc supports embedding video-based learning with easy to use blocks that support streaming video from Vimeo and YouTube as well as an HTML block that supports any other video embed code. CourseArc also bundles a streaming video license for all of our team, professional, and enterprise clients, which includes the ability to add closed-captioning to ensure all eLearning content is accessible.