The Case for Using Video for Adult Learning and Development

If, like us, you like watching video, you’ll get some ideas about why video works so well for learning and development from Salman Khan’s March 2011 TED talk called ‘Let’s use video to reinvent education’. Salman is the founder of the wonderful Khan Academy.

Then it’s thanks again to Cisco for their report ‘The Impact of Broadcast and Streaming Video in Education’ commissioned by Cisco Systems Inc. to Wainhouse Research, LLC. authored by Alan D. Greenberg and Jan Zanetis. Although this is the result of research in the school system, most of it is equally relevant to adult education in business settings.

Following are three particularly useful excerpts from Cisco’s report. If this is your area, then you may want to read the whole report.


Excerpt 1: The Impact of Video in Education

After closely reviewing more than 100 studies specifically related to research into all forms of video, 50 were selected as those showing clearly the impact of video in education. These studies lead us to believe that the pedagogical impact of video can be summarised by three key concepts:

  1. Interactivity with content
  2. Engagement
  3. Knowledge transfer and memory

These are part of a continuum in which interactivity with content becomes the key principle and a means for cognitive development: the learner interacts with visual content, whether verbally, by note taking or thinking, or by applying concepts. Engagement occurs when the learner connects to the visual content, becoming drawn in by video, whether on-demand or real-time. Interactivity and engagement begin in the affective realm, the feeling side of learning. In order for interactivity to take place, the quality of the video experience should be high. Once engagement occurs, the continuum then flows into knowledge transfer and memory: the learner, according to some studies, may remember better.* The net result in theory is a combination of affective and cognitive development, and retention of content.

* Some debate exists on memory enhancement. Most studies believe visual content helps learners remember concepts and ideas and practices; a few disagree.

Excerpt 2: Video as an Additive Enhancement to Analog Tools

Just as one method of transmitting knowledge has never been enough, any individual grouping of media may never be sufficient. This is why texts, oral presentation, recorded audio, slides, and other forms of media invite enhancement by video. Video does not just add emphasis, however. It is becoming central to learning, a need felt not only by students who are growing up with rich digital technologies, but also increasingly by educators.

Some debate exists on memory enhancement. Most studies believe visual content helps learners remember concepts and ideas and practices; a few disagree.

According to a survey by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on the use of video and television in North American schools, 92 percent of the teachers interviewed considered that television and video helped them to be more effective teachers, and 88 percent responded that the technology enabled them to be more creative. Also, almost 80 percent observed highly positive student outcomes as a result of their classroom use of video technology (Corporation for Public Broadcasting,1997).

Video not only consolidates visual and auditory stimuli into a single package, but also helps “bridge the gap between schools’ artificial environment and the outside world, bringing reality into the classroom”.12 Another advantage of video as a learning tool is its outreach power, as large numbers of people, including those in remote areas, can learn directly from experts without having to travel.

Because video combines many kinds of data (images, motion, sounds, text) in a complementary fashion, learning can be adjusted more easily than with other tools to the diverse learning styles of students. With video, the learner has more control over the information he receives by being able to stop, rewind, fast-forward, and replay content as many times as needed. Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory (logical-mathematical, linguistic, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic) concludes that traditional teaching methods, including lecture and textbook approaches, may only appeal to learners who lean toward a linguistic approach. However, teaching methods that include the use of video and audio will, in effect, “reach more students and provide more opportunities for neural development and learning” (Marshall).

Research has also shown that the value of video is highly correlated to its integration within the curriculum and how it fits into the overall instructional sequence.14 That is why video should be seen as a complementary tool for learning rather than a substitute. Educational television, films, newspapers, textbooks, podcasts, radio, the web, and other type of media and educational technologies should be used in conjunction with traditional methods to enhance learning and promote student achievement.

Excerpt 3: How Video Technologies Ignite Student Creativity, Collaboration, and 21st Century Skills

Access to video can help to motivate students, engage them, and create a distinctive context for their learning experience.

Student Motivation: Numerous studies reveal that learners are more motivated to interact with educational content when the content uses narrative storytelling, uses some degree of personalization, or offers some degree of control over how the content is accessed. Moreover, when students are given the opportunity to create digital material for classroom use, the feeling of empowerment, ownership, and sense of purpose is much higher. This in turns enhances the students’ motivation toward a particular subject and also contributes to the development of additional skills such as innovation, creativity, leadership, social interaction, and project management.

Learner Engagement: Many of the studies of supplementary video materials that are traditionally delivered via physical media—for example, DVDs and other multimedia formats―have shown that use of these materials lets students learn at a “pace that suited themselves.” Longitudinal studies have shown that preschool children who watch educational programs like Sesame Street spend more time reading and engaged in educational activities.

At the same time, on-demand streaming content can be engaging, enabling learners to review segments repeatedly of a lesson and feel that they are learning effectively. This is an essential finding among a number of studies: individual control over the pace of learning increases student motivation and engagement, often because it uses a technology with which students are familiar or that they can easily grasp.

Finally, learner engagement with others outside the classroom is achieved via both real-time and on demand technologies. For primary and secondary school learners, who spend many hours of the day enclosed in brick-and-mortar institutions, any outside contact with fellow students elsewhere using user-generated video can be indispensable.

Learner contextuality: Studies show a preference for video elements over pure text and/or static images, in part because some programs of study lend themselves to delivery via video. Similarly, cross-cultural understanding can be enhanced because of the “reality” or “contextuality” provided by video, which can often decrease isolation and even help minimize xenophobia.

Social skills: A clear positive impact on pro-social skills has been seen, with several studies indicating children’s affective skill—for example, sharing and acceptance of others, are enhanced.

Social skills are also built when students are allowed to create their own videos and share them with their peers as part of their classroom experience. “One of the most effective ways to learn something is to teach it to others.43 Studies show that when students are allowed to take a piece of knowledge and create something with it, their understanding of the information is much more profound than if they were to simply absorb the material.

Digital and multimedia literacy: Increasing use of video by students is bringing them closer to media and ICT technologies, demystifying these technologies by placing them in the hands of learners and making them tools for content creation. At the same time, multimedia helps to foster other 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration.