Videos Find Their Place In and Out of the Classroom (CHE)

March 17, 2015

Among today’s students, videos as an educational tool are as expected as textbooks.

A new study has found that 68 percent of students watch videos in class, and 79 percent watch them on their own time, outside of class, to assist in their learning.

Elisabeth Leonard, author of the study and executive market-research manager for SAGE Publications, said many of the students she spoke with said they couldn’t remember a time when videos weren’t part of their educational experience.

The study, “Great Expectations: Students and Video in Higher Education,” was conducted by SAGE and released on Monday. Ms. Leonard said her research into the topic had been prompted by SAGE’s plans to release streaming video collections this spring.

The study relied on a survey of 1,673 students. Of them, 49 percent were undergraduates and 33 percent were graduate or postgraduate students. The remaining 18 percent did not specify.

Ms. Leonard said she was intrigued by the variety of reasons students had for using videos. “They ranged widely from somebody wanting to brush up on something for a test, to somebody who was fascinated by something they learned in class but wanted to learn more about it, to students who would say that they heard what their faculty were saying, but they just wanted to know what were the other perspectives on that same topic,” she said.

In the study, students were asked why they watched educational videos. The most popular response was that the professor played them during class, at 63.4 percent. Help in understanding course material came in second, at 59.3 percent.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the study found that students do not like videos with speakers who are monotonous, appear nervous, or do not make eye contact with the camera. Videos with animations, real-world examples, and new material were well received. The ideal length of a video ranged from five to 20 minutes.

Most students, according to the study, go to YouTube to look for educational videos. They also use Google and frequent course websites. Very few students rely on the library for such materials, with only 32 percent of respondents saying they had searched for videos on their library’s website.

About Ryan C. Fowler

Ryan is a curricular fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. He also teaches at Franklin and Marshall College and Lancaster Theological Seminary.
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