Educational Videos: Improving Their Effectiveness
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Educational Videos: How To Improve Their Effectiveness

Some successful face-to-face courses do not work as well when transposed into the audiovisual format. There can be many reasons for this, including the teacher’s good ability to relate with students or the dynamics of class activities. It’s not always easy to “translate” all this into the distance learning format, but we can use different media resources and means of interaction to create a dynamic similar to the original course, losing some things and gaining others that could not be achieved in person. There is, however, another reason, often underestimated, for the failure of a distance course with audiovisual content, regardless of whether it is completely new or adapted from a face-to-face course: the gap between audiovisual production professionals and faculty (or staff responsible for the pedagogical content).

In the ideal world, pedagogical professionals would be well aware of the many possibilities of an audiovisual work. Thus, they could select and prepare the content visualizing much of its potentiality as audiovisual material. On the other hand, a video director, editor, and company would master some basic pedagogical methods, to create not only technically good but, more importantly, pedagogically efficient works. Perhaps this will be the scenario of the field in the future, as professionals in both areas graduate with these interdisciplinary relationships in perspective. For now, in addition to having individual initiatives by professionals, what we can do is to foster this dialogue, especially by providing both the pedagogical and audiovisual production teams with the following:

1. Study Or Define The Objectives Of The Course

Institutional goals are the core of the project, of course. But, you may not need to think about it since the demand will come from the institution or company interested in its production. So, their goals will be behind the demand. But, since everyone can make mistakes (including the organization, in this case), keeping an eye on it before the first step can be important.

After that, it’s time to think about the pedagogical objectives and part of the methods. What skills need to be developed? How are (or would be) they worked in the face-to-face course? What are the audiovisual and other media resources that can achieve similar forms of learning in this transposition to a distance learning course, if it is the case? What can be improved through the technological means, considering the diverse possibilities of construction and sharing of knowledge and the permanent openness to the contacts between the participants? Here we outline the format of the course, although not yet as a complete syllabus.

2. A Profile Of The Target Audience

After that, you must define/figure out (if this has not already been done) for which audience the course and the videos are. No news here, I suppose. If the videos are for people with a higher education level, for example, you will need to create a video different from one intended for people with high school education. If possible, also consider aspects, such as economic level and field of work/study to delineate a reasonably sound profile of the course public. From this, we can think better about the next step. After all, any pedagogical content can and should be worked differently according to the students for whom it is intended. So, after completing this step, you may need to rethink the solutions outlined in the previous one.

3. A Pedagogical Structure That Works The Desired Skills

Now we can choose the methodology with greater precision, considering all that was defined previously. If you need viewers (students or workforce) to discover some issues by themselves, for example, you cannot create videos that convey all the information at once. You should stop it with a question to be analyzed by them and then show the answer in a second video or ask them to try applying the theories seen in the video in a certain practical situation. In this sense, you should analyze whether the material can be best worked through videos or other ways. You can also think about a gamified video, for example, in which learners can choose options in situations related to the content of the course and receive feedback on their decisions. To be well ranked, they need to know the concepts previously showed in a video or by other means (even taught in person, if you want).

But sometimes you may just need to convey some information. In this case, you can use traditional videos, with the language that is most appropriate for the pedagogical purposes of the project. As you see, it’s time to plan and plan.

4. An Analysis Of The Material Considering The Pedagogical Skills And The Video Language

As a complement of the previous item, you should study the material in order to find out which part is the best to be the basis of a video. To do this, you should check if the selected material has too much data or things like that, because a video with a table containing many numbers, for example, will not work well. Showing the table would take a lot of time, and in these situations, we need to slow down the video to give enough time for viewers to follow the explanation. In addition, table analysis requires you to look at the data more than once, moving from one column to another, to form your reasoning. In this case, we should present the table in an earlier situation, then show a video in which its data (already known by the audience) are applied, giving viewers the opportunity to focus their attention only on the logic they need to understand, which lies behind the application of such data.

So it’s very important to evaluate whether the selected parts can work well in some video format. Their importance to the matter does not guarantee, of course, that they will have a good effect when transposed into the audiovisual language. Therefore, the selection criterion should not be just pedagogical.

5. Definition Of Style And Format Of The Video

After that, the style and the format of the video should almost scream for you: “That’s the way, partner!” After all, as you probably noticed, in the definitions of the previous items we have already indirectly addressed some of these aspects. So, decide the style (with humor or serious, formal or informal...) and the format (which involves the language, such as an infographic, moving graphics, whiteboard... with voiceover or teacher or TV host, and so on), thinking on the defined profile of the public and on the methods chosen to help them achieve the pedagogical objectives.

6. Connect Pedagogical And Technical Professionals

As stated above, the more the pedagogical team understands the audiovisual specificities, the better they will choose the material to be transformed into videos. And the more the technical support team knows the pedagogical objectives and, if possible, at least part of the pedagogical methods, the better the result. So we must promote the connections and the exchange of information between them, in order to strengthen this interdisciplinarity so important for distance education.

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