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Static vs. Functional Video

Many instructors leverage video to boost student engagement and supplement the content they’re teaching, but these are typically static videos. In other words, learners passively consume the information in these videos without interacting with it in any other way. It’s more difficult for learners to fully engage with a video if they don’t understand the purpose behind it and there are no interactive elements within it.

In an online guide to effective education videos, Cynthia Brame outlines the importance of “keeping it short” and references a study that examined the length of time students watched a static video. Not only do students retain less information and engage less with longer videos—the study found—but the likelihood of a student watching a video until the end declines if it’s longer than six minutes and contains no interactive elements.

In order for learners to get the most out of a video, Brame argues, it’s crucial to provide tools that help them process the information and monitor their own understanding. One of the most important aspects of using video is to promote engagement with the content, but if learners aren’t fully focused, or don’t watch the whole thing, this becomes wasted effort.

Moving from static to functional video

What Brame lobbies for in her online guide is what we call functional video. Functional videos have a purpose, are more engaging, and give students more control over their own learning. One of the most common ways to make videos more functional is for instructors to ask questions throughout them. This not only breaks up the content into smaller, more digestible pieces, but it also encourages student engagement. When a video integrates guiding and interactive questions throughout—instead of just asking them all at the end—it helps learners recall information easier.

Functional videos make a huge impact on learning outcomes for students because they help them understand what information is important to retain. When students are aware of their learning and retention gaps, they can use them as stepping stones for improvement. Another study Brame mentions in her guide compared the effect of watching a static video to a video with interactive questions, finding that the engaging questions enhanced the students’ performance on subsequent quizzes.

Most importantly, functional video gives learners more control over how they demonstrate competency. When a student correctly answers questions throughout a video, that certainly proves a level of understanding. However, those are assessments that are based off prompts the teacher provides, which means the student only has one way to show what they know—pick the right answer. When learners leverage video in an active way, say to demonstrate a skill, apply information within a different context, or even explain a concept in their own words, they at least dictate the lens instructors assess them through. In this way, functional video not only accommodates different learning styles, but it also facilitates more authentic assessments.  

With static videos not having these engaging elements or assessment capabilities, it can be difficult for a learner to understand what information they need to retain. Functional videos help boost retention and give students more control over their learning. With experiential workflows and engaging elements like peer review, Bongo turns passive video consumption into an interactive experience. Visit our website to learn more.

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