As background, many of my students fall into the "un-prepared" for university category. This has introduced many challenges. Some challenges are easily handled when a student is sincerely interested in learning (they want to know what to read and I guide them appropriately).

More challenging is that these students are not native-speakers of English yet they are studying in English. Again, those who work hard do well. Those who do not work hard, do poorly.

I am looking for a way to encourage ALL students to spend more time outside of class studying. To this end, I am considering composing some videos (a significant time commitment on my part) which will teach material that I do not cover in class.

This question discusses how to identify the reason students are not doing home work and this questions discusses how to make best use of videos as homework. However, I am asking something different.

I have done some surveying of students and many of them say that they prefer watching videos over reading. What I really want to know is whether anyone has seen or has researched the increased likelihood that a student will actually follow the homework because it is a video as opposed to in a textual format.

I do not want to get into the issues of punishment here. The students generally know that less homework = lower scores but they think they can still pass and that is all they care about. Sadly, I care more about their education than they do.

  • This is a very interesting question... I don't know the answer, but I do know that a major disadvantage of videos is that they generally have a much lower density of information than texts. That, however, says nothing about their efficacy in gaining compliance...
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 13:10
  • You could run a study where you make or find videos about topics that will be covered on a single test. Compare this with pervious test where video was not used - see if there is s difference :) Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 17:17
  • 2
    Part of this might depend on the length of the videos. Students might be more likely to watch 5- or 10-minute videos than 30- or 40-minute videos, though I'm unaware of a formal study supporting that theory. Also, some research suggests that says humor can be very effective in the online/blended environment. If you inject a little humor in your videos, they'll be more watchable.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 22:17
  • @sevensevens Yes, I am thinking of exactly that....but it takes a lot of time to make these videos so I would like to see what has been done before making that kind of investment.
    – earthling
    Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 1:38
  • I don't understand the question. Isn't homework something you do? Are you asking whether students should make videos intead of writing?
    – JeffE
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 13:36

5 Answers 5


It's been a while since I was a student, but I think it's still worth saying this:

I find it easier (as in less effort) to just sit through a video than read a book.

But: If I actually want to learn something or I have a specific task to solve, I find the linear format of videos extremely constraining, and I find them frustratingly slow. Like most people, I read much faster than normal talking speed. I can also skim texts easily, and find the relevant part, or go back and check a formula again. This is not possible with videos. There's a reason for taking notes in class instead of just recording it: a recording is not going to be useful for preparing for the exam.

You mentioned that many of your students are not native speakers of English. This is a big reason to avoid videos in favour of written material. I am not a native speaker either, and even though for the past few years English was the language I used the most, I still prefer watching English-speaking films with English subtitles. When watching videos there will always, always be at least a few words I can't catch or I can only comprehend with a few seconds' delay. Listening is simply more work for my brain than reading, and makes it just a little bit harder to pay attention to the content.

My personal opinion on the matter (no more than an opinion!) is that some students are indeed more likely to watch videos than read texts. But that's only because it feels like less effort to them. In reality videos are going to be less efficient at communicating information. They will require significantly more time commitment from you and they will require more time commitment from motivated students as well, who would be able to learn faster from written material. But yes: I do think unmotivated students are more likely to watch a video than to read a text.

Personally I find it very frustrating when the only material available is a video because it just slows me down and forces me to take notes I wouldn't need to take if I already had written material ...

  • I should have mentioned that I work in physics which will influence my viewpoint. I really have no idea about management subjects.
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 23:08
  • Your answer fits very well with my students. Thanks!
    – earthling
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 9:24

I am currently involved in a research project that is associated with the study of the influence of LMS in a blended learning environment. I also use LMS to teach courses.
Every student has a different learning style. Visual learners will prefer video over text. But to engage the other students, you may think of activities that could be performed outside the class, if you are using an LMS. E.g. you could give them 2 minute quizzes they could solve from home, or create educational games.


As a student, I would like to throw in my two cents...

Videos are incredibly useful and I think that more professors would be wise to create/use them. When studying or working on a project, I often cruise right on over to YouTube and begin searching for videos on the particular topics that I need to know about. Specifically, I like to use lecture videos. If I have a mid-term coming up and my professor had videos available...my study time would be cut and my retention would be better. It is a very efficient use of time on our end.

Why are they so great? Because I can pause at any time I need some time to write something down and I can watch any part or the whole thing as many times as I want to until the information I want really sinks in.

To support this, all I need to do is point to Khan Academy. Nearly all of my classmates know what Khan Academy is and most of them actively use the site to help them with math. I've actually watched most of the Khan Academy videos for personal development completely unrelated to anything that I was studying in school. They're fun to watch and, yes, there is a lot of learning going on for me.

Concerning video vs. text, I have recently taken to learning the Java programming language. I bought the most recommended books and started to get going. I've come a long way and I am starting to get the language down. The booster for this, though, was the innumerable videos on YouTube explaining the Java language for beginners. The books are great, but I really got my best impact from the videos. My learning curve was far steeper from the videos than the books.

Videos...very effective teaching tools!!

  • 2
    Videos are incredibly useful and I think that more professors would be wise to create/use them. — This statement is like fingernails on a chalkboard for me: is it "wise" for a student to study the course material regardless of whether videos are used or not? What is your opinion on that?
    – Mad Jack
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 18:08

In my current position I create mini-LMS (Learning Management Systems) solutions for our large company. Breaking these up by topics and groups much like SE does. My systems hold almost anything - videos, pdfs, spreadsheets, elearning, quizzes, games, online content (like SE).

I am also a stat head and track everything that goes on all the way down to the time a person takes to answer a question - and if they are in the same browser what sites they visited during that question.

Some things that may help you:

  • For long elearnings people generally skipped to the quiz at the end and kept taking quiz until they passed.

  • People don't watch long videos. Anything over 15 minutes have super high drop rates. Those under 7 minutes are generally watched.

  • People generally don't read through long documents unless they are told to. We get way more hits on web content then we get people opening up docs. This flipped about 5-6 years ago and is getting worse. To the point were we may do away with documents.

  • If you want people to really look at something there are three keys: fear (that they may get a bad score, not pass, look bad, whatever), entertainment (lack of professionalism and boring stuff), and interaction (have users do something every once in a while other than read/listen).

What learning on my systems do the best. Unequivocally it is blended web learning. An example page may contain a few paragraphs of explanation, a video, few more paragraphs, a video, a few more paragraphs, and a couple of questions. Don't make the questions "homework" questions. They should be easy to answer if the read the page and watched the videos. The 2-3 questions should take 30 seconds.

If you don't have a system that can accomplish this I am available for hire. Just kidding. Just get your content and video on a page and give them the quiz from somewhere else (a link maybe) or even on paper. Your goal should be to mix 4-7 minute videos with graphics and information. Keeping the videos shorter also makes it easier to change things up if something changes whether it be the info in the video or the curriculum.

  • Thanks for this. It is nice to hear from someone with the data.
    – earthling
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 9:35

I totaly agree, that videos should be short, 5 minutes is a maximum. It is not possible to keep students involved in the learning process, if videos are longer. I think that the best is to create a blended learning environment, refering to a text and including activities to reinforce learning. Videos should be part of it. Moodle or Google Classroom could be used for this. Activities and videos could be then embedded into pages and show/hide when needed. Also, Quizlet is a very good tool to help learning. An other advantage of using a such environment, is that the learning material is always available, even from student smartphones or tablets... Hope this helps a bit :o) Phil

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