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Video – More Than a Spectator Sport (Part 2)


By Mary Word

The core of David’s talk concerned the creative use of video and clips. We have all seen the talking heads, emblematic of much of the video used in courses, and although a big step up from reading text on a screen, it is still a passive activity. But there are ways to use a talking head to better engage the learner. One easy way is put it in an unexpected place. Instead of having it as the content on the page, use it to ask a question in a quiz, or act as the feedback to a question.

Put key information in the video, and when it finishes, question the user about the content. If you do this please ask them about something you really want them to learn, not something that just proves they saw the video. I once had to take one of those online driving safety courses. One of the course videos was about car crashes (actually, most of them were…) and I took notes about braking distances and car speed and other pertinent data, only to be asked what color the girlfriend’s blouse was. I had to re-watch the darn movie to get that important bit of information.

Allow the user to pause the video, to have control of how they watch it. Or set points in the time line that pause the video and display a question or show an explanation of the action before continuing. A good example is a cooking video that pauses at points in the process to point out details and help the user understand exactly what is being demonstrated.

Have the user try to figure out a conclusion from what they are seeing. David showed us a very cool New York Times page with several little videos of people saying something, and you have to spot which ones are lying and which are telling the truth. The conference audience participated with suggestions of ways to improve the interactivity, such as a show me button to annotate the video—how do you know they are lying? What are the visual cues to look for?

He showed us a video with an introduction featuring a girl who is explaining what to do. After her spiel, the user is supposed to perform an action of some sort. While waiting, she does not go to a still image, but fidgets in a small loop, which saves bandwidth while providing some interest for the viewer.

I do wonder if this can be counter-productive. I used to have an ancient computer game of a table of card players. You could pick the other players. If you did not respond in a certain time—left the game or got distracted—they would have conversations among themselves, and I would sometimes not play just to see what they said. You don’t want your content bridges to be more interesting than the course itself.

More to follow.

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