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Distance Education: Does Video Quality Matter?

It is not because a video seems "artisanal" that it cannot bear fruit! To capture the interest of young people, does the quality of the production really matter? It would seem that generally not! However, here are 7 characteristics of an instructional video that should achieve its goal.

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In the emergency, the teachers quickly organized their own videoconferencing studio. A cat tree serving as an iPad stand, a fridge door serving as a whiteboard, a laptop computer perched on a crate of milk, all means are good to support the learning of their confined students. All often without microphone or suitable lighting. Despite the artisanal side of the video clips produced by many, many have borne fruit. Does this mean that quality matters little in the eyes of young people? Mostly yes, according to Sarah Dart, a doctoral student at Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

In This article appeared in The Conversation, the researcher was interested in the characteristics of educational videos that have real value in the eyes of students. After showing different types of videos showing math problem solving techniques, she validated their impact on student understanding. Then she asked her students what they liked and disliked about instructional videos. She retained the characteristics that came up most often. 

1. Your conversational

Perhaps to get closer to a true teacher-student relationship, young people prefer their teacher to use a more familiar tone, as if he is addressing them in a verbal exchange. Humor captures their attention and is always appreciated. 

2. Presence of narration

Young people much preferred videos with narration as opposed to quieter ones. For example, a laboratory demonstration without an explanation of the phenomenon or a mathematical problem solving without hearing the teacher's reasoning will not achieve their goal. Students enjoy it when the teacher verbalizes their own reasoning while demonstrating or explaining a concept. This allows students to make connections and validate their understanding.

3. Easily accessible

For young people, it is important to access information as easily as possible. This is why videos on YouTube are preferred over those classified in Moodle, for example. Moreover, it seems that a powerful search engine is always better than a good ranking system.

4.Available at all times

The undeniable advantage of asynchronous teaching is that it is possible to access information when the student wants it. He can also resume certain parts as many times as necessary. According to the researcher, 90 % of her students used this strategy to solve the proposed problems.

5. Concise and precise subject

Students appreciate that the information they are looking for is easy to find. Thus the capsules evoking only one subject and bearing evocative titles will be used more. A longer video might have precise timing to make it easier to spot.

6. Links between content and evaluation

To be considered useful, the student must feel that the video capsule relates to the content of the upcoming assessment. In other words, optional material is of little interest.

7. Short-lived

This other study from Barnard College in New York came to roughly the same conclusions as the previous one. However, it adds another characteristic considered important: the educational capsules of a maximum duration of 4 minutes are preferred to those of longer duration. As the study focused on university students, it is reasonable to think that at primary and secondary level, the duration should be even shorter.

These two studies show that the most important characteristics of an educational video are more educational than technical. Certainly, minimum sound and video quality is required, but today the majority of mobile devices can provide it. Although the studies cited were interested in university students, their results should reassure teachers who did not dare to take the plunge because they were inexperienced or poorly equipped. No need to look for perfection. And when you think about it, the results of these two studies aren't all that surprising, considering that the school benches are occupied by the YouTube and TikTok generation.

About the Author

Phylippe Laurendeau
Phylippe laurendeau
For 25 years, the biologist, teacher, educational advisor and now technopedagogue has accumulated a rich and diversified experience in education. In her texts, Phylippe uses her background and her passion for digital resources, efficient practices and distance learning.

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