Video Educa Tech Lab

Transforming Passive Watchers into Active Learners

Sónia HetznerErlangen/Nürnberg (GER), December 2015 - The Video EDUCA Tech Lab will introduce two distinct concepts related to interactive videos: best practices and working with available tools. Sónia Hetzner - senior researcher, project manager, social scientist, and pedagogy expert - will demonstrate the added value of the interaction between the two in the learning process. The session, VID20 takes place Thursday, 03 December from 14:15-15:45 and will be repeated on Friday, 04 December.

The Video Educa Tech Lab has attracted great attention. What agenda awaits the participants in 2015?

Sónia Hetzner: In our particular lab, we – an educationalist, a video producer, and a learning designer – will offer an interactive session sharing ideas, concepts, and experiences regarding the production and the use of interactive videos in the learning process. Our concepts focus on a low-cost production with good quality. The aim is to generate real added value to the learning experience.

We use the concept of a rucksack. Everything we need is in the rucksack or attached to it, including a camera, very good microphones (a key issue in the production of educational videos), “light” tripods, two lights, one reflector, and a laptop. With these working tools, good concepts, and the know-how necessary for the production of the videos, it is possible to produce quality pieces that add value to the learning process.

The interaction – the new aspect in this year’s EDUCA - is first included in the concept of the videos and then realised in the postproduction. In the ninety-minute lab, we discuss educational motivation and benefits, explain best practices, and demonstrate how to work with available tools to add text, web information, photos, extra videos, tables of contents, call-outs, maps, exercises, tests, comments, and other interactive features to transform passive video watchers into active learners.

By the end of the lab, participants should be inspired and motivated, have a good idea of the opportunities, and know how to start their discovery journey.

How do the various concepts of interactive videos differ from each other?

Sónia Hetzner: Interactive videos embed multiple media elements to deliver an engaging and active learning experience. Media elements can be images, text, static videos, maps, comments, links, and all further type of elements that support understanding and knowledge creation. Depending on the didactic design, these elements can be compulsory or voluntary add-ins to the learning process.

From an educational-video perspective, we look at different video types that can be augmented by interaction.

Some of the tasks of good video are to

  • Demonstrate: the how-to-do videos, including tutorials and all types of videos showing how to do something, solve a problem, or go through a certain process;
  • Contextualise: moving theoretical concepts into practice. This can be the think and work process of a lawyer, the decision-making process of an HR manager, or transposing teaching theories and models into classroom action;
  • Relate: video analogies linking a person’s experience and knowledge to the new concepts via videos;
  • Illustrate: concrete presenting with examples of what you are talking about;
  • Reflect: record yourself and others and reflect upon behaviour and attitudes;
  • Analyse: use a video in the educational process to examine concepts, behaviours, and specific situations.

A range of interaction concepts can enrich these types of videos. Some examples are

  • Calls to action, e.g. add notes, visit a webpage, reflect upon the video via annotation services, or answer questions. While watching you need to take an action.
  • User commenting: commenting on videos or parts of them using annotation tools or links to discussion forums. This can be done for sharing with others, for self-reflection, or for assessment proposes (e.g. analysing a concept presented by a video).
  • In-video links to supporting documents, videos, audios and websites offering additional information or explanations to concepts.
  • Chaptering, i.e. the division of a video into meaningful units that can be called out independently.
  • Call-outs: highlighting certain aspects and delivering situated information within the video. These have to be called-out by the person watching.
  • Data capture in the videos using in-video questions, quizzes, polling, and text tools#
  • Multiple video sequencing: i.e. the viewer takes decision where to go next, e.g. a branching story for exploring a certain topic or the introduction of experts comments, or different perspectives in a certain scenario (e.g. switching between the roles in the communication tools)

What you use at the end always depends on the targets and the design. The combination of the different approaches is possible, although it is always important to keep in mind that including more elements is not always the best decision. Each element needs to have a significant added value, and the combination of all elements needs to be well balanced.

What produces the added value for learners in particular?

Sónia Hetzner: The most important element is allowing learners to not only watch, but to explain, request additional content, do tests, and give feedback on a particular video or scene. Through this experience, an individual’s learning journey takes place in a video.

Furthermore, learning research provides evidence that people learning certain concepts with “good videos” remember longer than others. They retain knowledge longer and grasp concepts faster. People are visual learners, and using video is an effective way to get facts, concepts and experiences to the learners. However, a difficulty in the process is the length of a video in relation to the active time assimilating concepts.

After three to five minutes, attention drops and the learning decreases. What can be done to combat this phenomenon? One of the possibilities is activating learners through interaction, transforming passive watchers into active learners. In this way you can increase the benefits of a good educational and training video significantly.  Interactive videos demand active learners, and active learners understand the concepts better and engage deeper in the learning process. Also, their retention of information and knowledge development process increases.

Interactive videos are suitable if the subject needs some time to be introduced because they mitigate the lack of attention and consequently boost understanding and retention. They also are of great value if the subject is complex and difficult to understand (e.g. communication processes, like doctor – patient conversations). Another scenario is in situations when the learning design demands an individual, personalised experience with a need for additional content for closing knowledge gaps, for extending knowledge opportunities, or for generating feedback and reflection on certain issues. 

With interactive videos you are able to tailor a learning experience to individual demands and interests. Another added value is that the media mix generates a more exciting experience, and therefore a better retention of the information.