For years I’ve been researching and promoting the use of online video and screencasts in teaching and learning. Recently I presented this information at a TechTalk. At the TechTalk I was asked a question that I frequently am asked during one of these trainings. In working with educators, my advice is to produce videos, and keep the length of the video short…from 2 to 5 minutes. I think that videos that are any longer will not be viewed by students…and just skipped over. So if you need to present anything longer, chop it up into bite-size pieces.
I need to note that I have been recording lectures of my classes using Screencast-o-matic and posting these on YouTube for students to use as they review classnotes. I indicate to students that they do not need to watch these clips, they are there for students if they need them. I also don’t believe at all that a student would watch the entire clip. Students have mentioned to me that they “scrub” through the video to find a specific portion of the lecture that they were confused about…and this is a terrific resource in that capacity.
Now moving back to my initial thinking about the length of the video clips that we post online for students, I came across a great post from Edudemic on the role of teachers in the context of TED talks. The post focused on the work of Gustavo Reis and his research on engaged students in education. I have embedded the TEDx talk that inspired the Edudemic blog post.
What interested me the most was the data that was shared about how the viewing habits students use while working with online video. The following content pasted in below is from the Edudemic post.
How Students Pay Attention In Class
One of the stand out points Prof. Reis makes is based on a study that found most students are alert and attentive for the first 5 minutes of class. Then, about halfway through class, only about half are paying attention. Then, there’s a critical point: when the teacher says “finally” and signals that the end is near.
It’s during that time the student understand that either the best part (save the best for last and all that) of the class is coming or that the class is simply almost over. Either way, the students in general snap back to attention.
After 1 Minute, Half of all Video Viewers Leave
Prof. Reis ties this study into the world of online video. He discusses how, after just the first 10 seconds of a video (like the one above for example), 11% of all viewers have abandoned the video. After just one minute (regardless of how long the video is), more than HALF of all viewers are gone. And after 5 minutes, just 9% of the original viewers will remain.
These findings support my hypothesis about how students utilize online video in their learning habits. I think that online video can be a powerful learning tool…but it is important to pay attention to student learning objectives…and target your use of video.
Also published on Medium.