Another dot in the blogosphere?

How to “lecture” without lecturing

Posted on: February 25, 2016

How many people would sit through an almost 10-minute YouTube video about the history of Japan? I wager not many.

In 2013, EdX crunched some numbers and found that 6-minute-long educational videos were optimal for motivated students. Earlier that year, another researcher presented his own numbers for other videos:

  • 11% of viewers watch just 10 seconds of an online video
  • a third of viewers leave the video 30 seconds in
  • half the viewers will not stay beyond the first minute of the video
  • only 9% will watch a 5-minute video

Video source

I showed my wife and son this video when it was released earlier this month. As of today, it has surpassed its 6 millionth view.

We watched the video all the way through. A few days later, my son asked to watch it again and we did so together on our living room TV.

The number of views this video has garnered and the interest of a child who is not quite interested in the history of Japan is testament to how good it is. It is a very good example of how to lecture without lecturing.

It is also a good example for educators to deconstruct and critique so that video design principles emerge. For example:

  • Less can be more (leave learners wanting more)
  • Tell a story (which might comprise of shorter stories)
  • Be interesting (use emotion to create learning anchors)
  • Quip and be quick (the viewer can pause and replay)
  • High fidelity and top-notch video production is not always necessary (tight editing and post-production is)

The illiterate of the 21st century.

At a keynote I delivered in December last year, I mentioned that there are only three core 21st century competencies for educators. They need to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

There will be times that an educator needs to be a sage on the stage. But that does not mean that s/he has to be the shah of blah. Can today’s educators learn how to tell stories that teach by unlearning lectures and relearning new strategies?

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