Video in the Age of Digital Learning: Insight from Jonas Köster’s 2018 book

cover of Jonas Köster's book Video in the Age of Digital LearningJonas Köster recently produced a beautiful and research-rich text entitled Video in the Age of Digital Learning. For those of us in education and developing instructional media, we already know what Köster lays out on the first page—“recent studies overwhelmingly predict the continual rise in the use of instructional video” (xv). Here’s why: “digital video is an extremely powerful method to tell stories, explain complex issues through engaging visuals, offer the learner the ability to work at their own pace, and . . . [it’s] the most efficient and effective method for bringing a teacher and learners together at an incredible scale” (xv).

This shift in teaching and learning requires more than just a camera and an eager instructor, however. For example, student attention span has shortened to only about 8 seconds and making a video engaging “requires a thorough examination of the medium to find the best ways to make it as useful as possible” (xvii). Without regurgitating the entire text, I’ll outline a few aspects of Köster’s book that stood out most.

The growth in video use in both online and face-to-face classes demands that we measure the success of our use of this instructional medium. The available tools for measuring success (and failure) vary, the data that can be collected is vast, and the results that can be measured are not always clear. Having a delivery system that measures group and individual viewership and hotspots is only as valuable as how well that data is used by faculty; finding a way to assess the learning must be determined by individual faculty and at each institution.

Video can be produced in a variety of ways ranging from lengthy classroom lecture captures, screencasts, live webinars, and professionally produced lecture videos. The latter is where I’ll focus on most.

Köster writes “The professionally produced lecture capture video has the greatest overall potential to be a high-value product in terms of instructional import, style, and production quality. The instructor is not left alone when making important pedagogical and stylistic decisions…[instead] the instructor and instructional designer decide on the best pedagogical methods in terms of graphics, thereby creating videos with potentially superior educational value” (31). He reiterates that “the professionally produced video can achieve what comes closest to an in-classroom experience from a pedagogical standpoint. The instructor speaks directly to the viewer, increasing the level of engagement and creating the highest perceived instructor-student connection for a pre-recorded video” (31). Köster acknowledges that this is time intensive (and time is money), but the satisfaction level of the viewer and the pedagogical possibilities increase exponentially with these kinds of partnerships between faculty and instructional media designers.

Having that professional video team or an instructional designer to work with isn’t essential for every faculty, but it is important for every institution to at least offer training to faculty producing instructional videos. Köster points to using the research outlined in Effects of Segmenting, Signaling, and Weeding, on Learning from Educational Video by Ibrahim, M., Anotonenko, P.D., Greenwood, C.M., & Wheeler, D. in 2012. Using their SSW methodology, “the intention and the learning goals are made clear (signaling), the video content is shortened to keep the learner engaged (shortening), and any non-essential content is stripped (weeding)” (Köster, 49). This concise intentionality leads “to maximum engagement and the achievement of learning goals” (49). Conversely, an “unsophisticated video created by an amateur that is too long or difficult to understand could impair a student’s comprehension” (51). For these reasons, Köster strongly recommends training for those creating instructional videos that includes a focus on physical design, cognitive design, and affective design. A well-designed video, therefore, delivers content in a manner that is accessible, understandable, and is aesthetically pleasing—or engages the viewer and makes the him or her feel comfortable. Learners “learn more deeply from well-designed multimedia presentations than from traditional verbal only messages,” and adding interactively, such as video quizzes or directly applicable assignments “will create more engaging multi-sensory experiences that will improve the learning experience” while decreasing attention loss (55).

Köster’s 2018 text goes into considerable detail on video in US education and offers citations that reference dozens of other researchers on this topic. Video in the Age of Digital Learning, is a deep and expansive view of current instructional video research, and is an important read for those in the business of instructional media—or considering doing more of it. (It also provides a highly detailed production budget, which is valuable for institutions considering evaluating their current media production team—or considering starting one.) To wrap it all up, it is clear that effective instructional video can still be produced by a lone, determined, and trained faculty member. The effectiveness of those instructional videos can be enhanced even more by talented and trained Academic Technologists, which we are blessed to have here at Carleton College.

Works Cited:

Ibrahim, M. Anotonenko, P.D., Greenwood, C.M., & Wheeler, D. “Effects of Segmenting, Signaling, and Weeding on Learning from Educational Video.” Learning, Media, and Technology. 2012: 37(3), 220-235.

Köster, Jonas. Video in the Age of Digital Learning. Berlin. Springer, 2018. Print.

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Dann Hurlbert

Media & Design Specialist at Carleton College
Dann Hurlbert, Carleton’s Media & Design Specialist, has an MFA in Digital Cinema from California’s National University and has worked professionally as an actor and director for nearly twenty years, and designed the Little Prompter, a personal teleprompter for faculty and business professionals that is available on Amazon and LittlePrompter.com. He taught film, video production, and theatre for fifteen years and likely stood in your living room as an actor in more than forty national and regional television commercials. He also produced an educational video entitled “How to Write and Produce Your Own High School Musical,” which is currently being distributed by Films Media Group. Dann's a busy guy, and he loves helping others creating powerful instructional videos.

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