From the dawn of time, we have educated one another by demonstrating how to do things. “I make fire”, says the Caveman. “Here’s how I do it”. The universe and everything in it is in constant motion. The change is what we notice. I really love the part of the movie Jurassic Park (1993) where they are being hunted by the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) says, “He can’t see us if we don’t move”. How true this has become in the online learning environment.
In my 30 years in educational technology I constantly faced a pushback from educators and professors that e-Learning is just not even close to being in the classroom. I would agree with that assessment when online learning consists of text, static images or pictures, or Powerpoint slides with a voice behind it. To this day, if you put me in front of slides or static images with “next” and “back” buttons, I have difficulty holding my attention. However, when you incorporate video of the presenter and video of the processes, all of a sudden the entire learning model shifts and retention rates soar. A study by 3M Corporation and Zabisco finds that, “90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.” And according to A Wharton Research Center study published by WebConference.com™, the retention rate of verbal only presentations is approximately 10%. However, when you combine visual with verbal communication, you increase the retention rate nearly five times. The participants identify with the presenter and are following what was being shown to them. As any of today’s Do-It-Yourselfers know, you can do a search on YouTube and you will find plenty of demonstrations on how to do just about anything around the house. I recently replaced my water heater after watching a YouTube video. When I looked at the PDF installation guide, I was not comfortable with doing the project on my own. But seeing and experiencing how it is done by watching a video of the process, and trusting the expert gave me the confidence to move forward. Hot water continues to flow in our house. J
Perhaps some of the best feedback I have gotten from our video-based e-learning participants over the years is that they felt “a part of” the class. They could “touch, feel and own the content”. And they had control over it. Motion is the key to drawing their attention and keeping them engaged in the learning experience.
Ron Horne is Chief Technology Officer of Mediascript, llc, and has spent decades in educational technology, writing, professional video production and IT project management.