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Marijn De Geus


Founder & CEO

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Video: perfect for learning & training! Here’s why


30,287 YouTube subscribers: it might not be a lot compared to PewDiePie’s 54 million, but it’s quite the amount for a Dutch physics teacher. We know from practice that videos work great in education. But not just that: research confirms that video combines really well with learning and training. Why is video learning so effective?

Just in time

They’re wildly popular nowadays: YouTube teachers. Just like it’s the most natural thing in the world to learn how to connect a plug to a cord or how to do certain calculations in Excel online, students watch physics teacher Sieger Kooij’s videos to learn how to recognize a redox reaction and the difference between protons, neurons and electrons. It’s quite helpful if you didn’t have time to go to class or just woke up too late. But what’s more, it perfectly utilizes the just in time principle for students. They can access the class and learn at the moment they need it, for example before an important test. Video learning is not just popular because of that, though. It is simply an effective way of learning.

Video learning aligns with the way the brain works

‘Observational learning’, it is called: learning how to tackle a certain task from examples. When you alternate this with practicing in the right proportions, you’re optimally prepared to ‘do it yourself’. That’s because observational learning perfectly aligns with the way the brain works, as Liesbeth Kester and Jeroen van Merriënboer (2013) discuss. Our brain is composed of three main parts: the sensory memory, the working memory and the long-term memory. The working memory plays an important role in the ‘writing’ of information to the long-term memory and has separate processing channels for visual information (images and written text) and auditory information (sound and spoken text). Precisely this working memory is however easily overloaded, preventing information from being saved in the long-term memory. And exactly this overload is prevented by using effective multimedia learning sources.

How does video unburden the working memory?

Multimedia learning sources combine a number of specific characteristics that prevent a working memory overload. You can determine your own learning or training pace, which allows for enough space and time to fully process new information. Also, video directs the attention in a very focused way. A good video excludes all irrelevant information which usually causes distraction. It combines imagery with sound, thereby making optimal use of the working memory. All these video characteristics make it much easier to select, organize and integrate information into existing knowledge or skills. From here, it is only a small step to apply this to new situations.

Motivating and effective feedback

Observing how someone else handles a task is motivating because it increases confidence in one’s own abilities, Vincent Hoogerheide (2012) explains based on Albert Bandura’s (1986) influential social-cognitive theories. What’s more, education guru John Hattie’s research about the effectiveness of feedback shows that instructions about a task in the format of video or audio fragments are very effective for learning.

Away with the teacher?

Let’s go back to the redox reactions. The question is whether a student watching The complete secondary school physics in 70 minutes by teacher Kooij will pass his final exam. According to the motivation theory of Deci & Ryan (2000), the need for social connectedness in the learning process should not be ignored. Especially in big academic classes however, not everything can be taught during lectures. Among other universities, Utrecht University students therefore learn and practice interviewing online, with mutual feedback filling the social need. The teacher sees the result when grading the final submissions.

How does video help learning and training? Read 21 tips in our free e-book!

Author Profile Picture
Marijn De Geus

Founder & CEO

Read more from Marijn De Geus

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