Video as a Learning Tool: Engagement

By | January 6, 2015 at 1:51 pm | No comments | Multimedia in Business | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back in 2008, we founded an educational video company which would later evolve into Rapid Eye Digital. We set out to simply convey information, in an engaging way, through storytelling. One of our core beliefs is that no matter what the message, you must first get the viewer’s attention, draw them in, and make them want to learn more.

When we go to a movie, we might measure our enjoyment of the film based on how effectively it told a story. The basic structure of a story can be applied equally to an educational video. By analyzing this structure, we find that it is important to include an inciting action that puts the rest of the story in motion. The key here is engagement.

This holds true in the traditional classroom too. If you think back over your years in school, probably the most beloved teachers or professors utilized some sort of tools to engage their students. I remember a few occasions that stuck out: Our Health class instructor walks into class on the day we were supposed to talk about the science of blood, a few minutes into the lecture, blood starts coming from his mouth and he pretends to pass out. A staged teacher comes in to find us all in shock, checks on the fallen teacher who spits out a fake blood packet, then they both look up with a grin. A little morbid, but it had our attention. On another occasion, our chemistry teacher entered class holding a small balloon, which unbeknownst to us, was filled with hydrogen. He gets to the front of the class, holds out the balloon and lights it on fire. The very loud explosion instantly had everyone’s attention and wanting to know what just happened. These were scenarios that a textbook or this blog entry can’t do justice to. Those teachers and more importantly the lesson material to follow are still memorable to me today because of the engaging learning experience.

The challenge with education is retention, ideally to the point of application. So the student must understand the material enough to apply to other similar situations or act on the information presented. Humans are generally lazy. We’ll find the shortest method to achieve our goals in the short term. Students will find ways to memorize the basic content just enough to pass an exam, then forget most of it. But an engaging learning experience is not simply memorized, it is etched in the minds of the viewers, and in some cases impossible to forget.

How many conference lectures, webinars, or other corporate training events have you been to where the presenter started out by going over an outline of what he/she is going to talk about over the course of the presentation? Meanwhile, the audience is on their phones, finishing up an email, or checking Facebook one last time. Somewhere, maybe a third of the way into the presentation you’ll finally have most of the audience paying attention, likely having missed the whole point of the information presented. The presenter ignored the structure of a story and failed to effectively deliver the information because he/she didn’t earn the viewers’ attention.

Video is an effective medium through which to engage your audience and prepare them for what they are about to learn. Video activates more portions of the brain than reading a text book or listening to a lecture by allowing the audience to visualize, hear, and read the information. Video can also illicit a strong emotional reaction. Through characters, music, or visuals, video grips a viewer by relating to past experiences or core values. Through video we can visualize subject matter in a way not possible in real life. For example, we can look inside a microscopic object or demonstrate an exploded view of a product. We can rapidly portray a series of events. Video can take the viewer into the past or forward into the future. Video carries with it a positive preconception that it will be entertaining – viewers tune in expecting to be entertained. What preconceptions do you have about Powerpoints? So the initial reaction to a video coming on screen is that phones turn off, emails stop, and people start to watch. Then its the responsibility of a good video to hold their attention and initialize the presentation.

Imagine if phones didn’t light up and ring when receiving a call. We’d just start talking and hope that the person on the other end happened to be listening. Launching a lecture or presentation without first engaging the audience, has the same effect. Video is a cost-effective, innovative tool available to educators to bring impact, heighten effectiveness, and elicit greater retention.

Ben Young
Founder
Rapid Eye Digital

www.rapideyedigital.com
www.rapideyedigital.com/blog
www.animationsf.com

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