I remember once reading an article that attention span online drops significantly after just a couple of minutes. I've never again been able to find that article. Does it sound familiar to anyone?
I worry about the length of our online videos. The prsentations themselves are something like six hours, and so each video is about 1.5 hours. This seems WAY too long for one person to watch online. So I ask myself if the objective is for someone to watch the whole thing (eep), or to browse for the content they're looking for. But then they're losing the context or previous laddered learning to fully appreciate that specific explanation or analogy.
How do you decide how long your clips will be?
We are just starting to use video clips in our courses (although we've used Captivate lessons in our computer courses for a while).
Some clips are "home made" and other come from a streaming video server (purchased clips). We aim to keep the video clips at "you-tube" lengths (so 2 - 4 minutes) to accommodate the attention span of most students.
This is a very timely seminar for me. However, I'm on vacation for most of the seminar and so I'll have to be an occasional lurker.
Cheers, Christine (Chris) Horgan, SAIT Polytechnic, Calgary, Canada.
I prefer to think of this as a conditional issue. If I am to have to watch a poorly lit talking head with poor audio it better not be longer than 4 minutes or I will disengage before the points are conveyed. A well produced video that has engaging content can be longer but no more than 10 -15 minutes in an online course.
I am often asked how do I get the content on my DVD into my course and I first recommend chaptering the information into smaller snippets. To me this is a form of comunication that must be scrutinized and formatted much as you would when giving a lecture. I would consider timing, pace, repeating of primary concepts and quality of presentation. A lecture given by someone who mumbles for an hour is not very effective.
I recently completed building a video website for our "Case Studies in Innovative Educational Technology Use" project that consisted of 10 instructors answering 6 questions with an average interview time of 1 hour each. One of the things I knew was that based on the format and content I should try to keep each section to around 5 minutes (which is a challenge for those who really like to talk) and I needed to have things like tags and playlists to gather these sections together based on context. We also had to be brutal and edit out anything that would distract from the core question.
I can imagine that editing answers to questions to five minute sections would indeed be a challenge!
Did any of your speakers later complain about what was edited out? How do you finess that conversation?
Just a side note about the Case Studies in Innovative Educational Technology Use project that Patric mentioned. We'll be scheduling an event here in SCoPE to talk about those cases in the near future.
I especially like the way you can view a single interview all the way through, or you can select an interview question and listen to the responses to only that question from each instructor. It's nice to have that flexibility in viewing videos!
How do you decide how long your clips will be?
All depends on your aim: who the video is directed at, what you'd like people to focus on most. When you mention previous context, this means extensive viewing so different strategies and techniques will be used.
In intensive viewing, I'd say conciseness is important as it equals clarity of thought. There is a need for precise language and control of the technique so the video is smooth and the message to the point.
By control of the technique, do you mean training the speaker in a speaking and self-editing style specificlally for the recorded medium? How do you explain the differences to a speaker accustomed to speaking only to live audiences?
Just as speaking professionally to live audiences requires public speaking skills, using the recorded medium online has its own particularities. As we increasingly engage in different modes of communication outside the traditional classroom, I'd think it is important we become more aware and make people aware of what it takes to communicate effectively in these different situations. I'm not an expert but try to get more informed about it, the do's and don'ts and adapt them to my particular context.
Video online, although it looks deceptively easy to make with the present technology, is particularly complex as it demands not only appropriate tools, extensions, codecs and what not, for capturing and editing sound + image but it also involves the speaker (or speakers) who should use the skills needed to transmit the message and motivate the intended (absent) audience + a camera operator, who should know which filming techniques are to be used to enhance the message and not create the opposite effect.
Big mistakes in any of these areas represent a nightmare in the post production phase as editing becomes very difficult if not impossible. Better prevent them from happening or at least minimize them during the pre-production and production phase.
For the recordings of videoconferenced classes, they are a painful 1.5 - 3 hrs long; in some special classes they will be 6 hours long (yikes!) Certainly not what anyone would recommend but we don't have the staff time available to edit them down afterwards. The students are grateful for the record of classes they have missed; they are not what I would call a good tool for learning.
For the blended learning model of class delivery that we have used most often, we try to keep video recordings (actually these are mostly a blend of PowerPoint slides, video, images and audio) at less than 10 minutes; most recordings in a recent course were around 5 minutes.
We are going to push those guidelines for a introductory history course that is to be delivered fully online as some of the issues and concepts will take more to explain at the beginning. I'm hoping that we will have enough time to interject thought problems or assign learning activities that will require the viewing student to pause the video and go and do something and then come back.
That's the reality for us right now - not the best but students still love the videos. Gives them a chance to review things (even if they have attended a class).
Just dropping into this seminar. I didn't actually think it would be a topic that would catch my attention but once again I've found myself aware of how little I know and how much can be done with video. One point on the length and watchability - what about a summary of the longer stuff? Also how do you see the difference between audio and video here? I ask becuase if its a video of an interview or lecture etc I often find I play it in the background like an audio podcast. It occurs to me that an audio summary might raise questions or summarise the video. It might even act as a guide specifying whereabouts in the video that key points are raised - like a contents section for the video perhaps. Just my penny's worth in passing. ;-)
Ah, that's how I often watch videos - I resize and place on my secondary monitor, and let it play in the background (much like some synchronous online meetings, I'm afraid!). With the longer videos I am content to let them play, knowing that my attention will drift in and out. With the shorter vidoes, I sometimes don't bother, since I won't pay attention for 10 minutes, and so it doesn't feel worth my while to play a series of shorter videos.
Interestingly, I'm listening to CBC radio right now, and the DJ on Radio Two is talking about about an article and how our mind attempts efficiency in information overload. So is a longer video sometiems perceived as less of a cognitive demand?
Longer videos also allow for a gradual or laddered approach to a final and summarizing point (which is how many academics think and speak!) instead of the explicit selection of 10 minute chunks.
What if you don't know what you wanted to hear about?
The other thing that strikes me, is that it's often possible to fast forward video material (thinking about those who are using class recordings for backup for those who were there, rather than other uses) - so students might well be able to fast forward to a remembered section - in a way you can't if it's just audio (assuming the fastforward includes some form of visuals; whether it's periodic screenshots or just sped up)
Great point, Emma! I fastforward, pause, and rewind frequently in video - the ubiquitous PPT in a lecture recording makes it easier to track where in the explaination the speaker is. (Oh, that was some poor sentence construction!).
One detail that I'm enjoying in this lecture recording is listening to the audience questions and answers. It allows for a chance to reflect, a different approach often to what the speaker is saying, and revisits some details. And sometimes, if I already know the answer to the audience question, it's reinforcement that I'm paying attention and learning!! I also like the audience reaction - laughter at the jokes in addition to the questions. I feel less isolated in a way because it's a talking head in a classroom.
Makes a great case for lectures doesn't it? I hear educators rave about social media and informal learning but they often overlook the value, pleasure and stimulation of someone giving you a tour of the field. Video of it adds flexibility, helps reflection and is equally useful but I love going to hear a good lecture and its a really social time. Ah the heady days of attending lectures!
Sorry for not posting earlier on the subject of using Audio and Video for instruction. I tend to be more of a "lurker" than a poster.
Your description of going to "remembered" sections of a video describes exactly the problems inherent with working with both audio and video. How do go back to the important bits? Others in this forum discussion have also mentioned the ideal length of a video (around 5 to 10min.). However, from an editing and production standpoint, getting content into shortened format can require a significant amount of time.
As part of my SFU Masters thesis (The Audio Re-Searcher: examining the effects of audio note taking in a multi-media, web-based environment – see: https://theses.lib.sfu.ca/sites/all/files/public_copies/ETD6867_FZander_zanderfrank_finalthesis_pdf_18644.pdf ), I created an online tool for working with audio see: http://www.screencast.com/t/9W8HSKUnv91U
As it turns out, the tool (www.audioresearcher.org) also works great for annotating and bookmarking audio.
For a fun example of video bookmarking, see:
http://www.audioresearcher.org/default.aspx?Title=The Parrot Sketch&AudioFile=http://www.audioresearcher.org/upload/The Parrot Sketch.wmv