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Linfield College
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Teaching & Learning Support Blended Learning

Why Use Digital Video?

Evidence: Why Digital Video is Effective

What evidence do we have that digital video truly enhances teaching and learning? Elizabeth Daley suggests that the truly literate will adopt multimedia literacy as an equal and complimentary form of expression, alongside text. In fact, Daley argues that the screen is the vernacular of the day (not text), much as Italian and English were once the vernacular of the day (not Latin). Let's begin by noting the value of multimedia learning in general:

Visual Learning

Research has shown that visual learning is one of the best methods for teaching thinking skills. Visual learning techniques - graphical ways of working with ideas and presenting information - teach students to think clearly, and to process, organize and prioritize new information, and inspire students to develop, focus and organize their ideas. Visual diagrams reveal patterns, interrelationships and interdependencies. They also stimulate creative thinking. Visual learning techniques include images, web pages, concept maps and graphical organizers. These tools help students process and retain new information by making connections between new and existing knowledge. Visual learning techniques help students:

  • Clarify thinking
  • Reinforce understanding
  • Integrate new knowledge
  • Identify misconceptions


Audio Learning

Likewise, audio files offer tremendous advantages to learning, as evidenced by the following examples here at Willamette:

  • Improve student's pronunciation in foreign language classes
  • Repeat and reinforce understanding of music principles (ear training)
  • Provide authentic historical records

Digital Video

Why use video in teaching and learning? In a nutshell:

  • Quick, rich, authentic, tacit communication of demonstrations, simulations, events or stories
  • Vicarious experiences (e.g. lab experiments, or observing the behavior of animals in the wild)
  • Absorb and engage the learner, by concentrating sight and sound, making difficult concepts memorable

A useful synthesis of the work of Rich Mayer by Mathew Mitchel

  • "Integration sums up research that indicates that audio/text need to be highly integrated with the images used.
  • Parsimony indicates that there is better learning when extraneous words, sounds and pictures are excluded.
  • Narration indicates that learning is better when words are presented as narration rather than as text. Individual differences indicates that learning is better if the target audience has low-prior knowledge of the content field and that they have high spatial ability.
  • Personalization tentatively suggests that students work harder at learning when they feel involved with the presentation. For example, one study (Moreno & Mayer, 2000) found personalization could be achieved simply by the narrator using a conversational style of voice rather than relying on a third-person voice.
  • Interactivity tentatively suggests students learn better when they can control the pace of the presentation."

As explained by ClickandGo Video

  • Visualization: Video as a moving image helps the student to visualize a process, an event that might be difficult to represent through a text form.
  • Visual cues amplify and explain text, images and facilitate recall of new knowledge (Mayer and Gallini 1990).
  • The use of visual cues creates imagery during learning that is critical to memory processes (Shepard and Cooper 1982).
  • Use of illustrations in text attracts attention, aids retention and recall and are explicative (when written or verbal forms are not enough) (Duchastel and Waller 1979).
  • Video can provide vivid descriptions to articulate tacit information and knowledge difficult to articulate through text and verbally (Goodyear and Steeples 1998).
  • Illustration: it reinforces the power of an still image or graphic, it can show an example of how something works, moves or performs.
  • Validation: it reinforces what is being said in the classroom, it validates knowledge through a moving image or representation.
  • Explanation: it helps to describe visually an explanation of a procedure or process through a ‘show and tell’ style.
  • Motivation: video can make content alive and bring it into the classroom.

Clickandgo provides some pedagogical uses of video:

  • Talking head: Here the subject speaks to the audience or the camera, it is probably the most widely used technique at the moment. It is generally used for lecturing, or to provide a presentation or an overview.
  • Events: Here the intention is to capture on video educational events such as a seminar, a workshop, or a conference for example to be archived as educational and consultation resources.
  • Fly on the wall: In this type of use the camera is set up to capture an event in situ, a spontaneous event without script. This could include a group of students working together brainstorming ideas or engaging in decision making. This technique can be useful to observe and analyze an example of group dynamics in action.
  • Think aloud: Here the subject is filmed as they engage describing their thoughts or actions. The subject can be on her/his own doing a video diary or can be prompted by the camera person for example as in the case of an interview. This is an appropriate technique to capture the subject’s reflection on the practice or experience and to transform an implicit and tacit account into explicit verbalization.
  • Instructional: This technique is used to show the process of doing something concrete, the procedures, the different stages, it is also used as a demonstration method.
  • Simulation: Here the intention is to simulate an event such as a lab experiment where safety is at risk or to engage in a role playing situation where the students can experiment with different roles and behaviors.
  • Realism: The purpose here is to capture an action that can not be physically brought into the classroom, any type of outdoor scene, wildlife, a fashion show or a dance performance. The intention is to bring real life events to the context of the formal classroom so they can be observed, analyzed, interpreted and discussed.

Why use digital video as opposed to analog video?

  • Quality - The ability to edit, add special effects, lighting, lack of degradation over time and during duplication
  • Distribution - Far reaching (through Internet or CD ROM/DVD copying)
  • Cost - Replication and distribution costs are becoming less expensive all the time
  • Integration - digital video usually compliments other educational technology enhancements very nicely


Click the links to view testimonial videos.

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David Goodney from Chemistry: "Archive for use not only by students outside of the classroom or lab, but also by other instructors."

Juwen Zhang from Chinese: "One main reason is for the convenience. This gives students the ability to practice anywhere, anytime. I personally think this is the trend of technology development. The textbook I use is perhaps the best accepted text in this country, but unfortunately, the publisher has not provided any official videotape for at least the next couple of years. Video helps not only get students more involved, but also helps newcomers to learn. Students are very enthusiastic - I think they are going to be very helpful for newcomers."

Steve Rhine from Education: "It is easily edited by students and can be uploaded to the internet for discussion."

Jill Weisner from Education: "I became interested in using DV because I thought it would be a good way to connect our students teachers to me and to each other during the second semester when they are on campus very little. I thought that it would increase dialogue and contact. Also, many of our students have similar concerns and if they could see each other teach online then perhaps they would realize their problems and concerns are not unique. Plus, it was a good way to integrate technology: They would get to learn how to use the technology and then think about ways they could use that technology in their own teaching."

Paul Howard from History: "Digital video can be a great resource if it can be made available to students both before class, say on a website, and again in class. The fact that it can be accessed more efficiently (being able to jump quickly to a particular scene, for example) is a big plus."

Miho Fujiwara from Japanese: "More authentic representation of Japanese culture - captures cultural values that cannot be represented just by text. Also, helps students choose which cultural elements they want to focus on. "Student reaction was unbelievable."

Nacho Cordova from Rhetoric and Media Studies: "Provides a wonderful way for for students to vary the way they learn. The process of developing a visual and audio interface, as well as writing a script, helps them understand the parts of the message better. It's more work and takes more time, but ultimately it engages the student far better than lecture."

Jacen Greene-Powell, student videographer: Jacen offers advice for aspiring student videographers, and talks about the value of creating videos to enhance the learning process.