Video in education: some best practice suggestions

There is no question that video sharing is set to have a lasting influence on education. So is it possible to outline some best practices in its use? Here is an attempt to set out three.

Skill levels

Video material should be incorporated into teaching where possible, but primarily targeted at giving students a grounding in the subject and the basics of knowledge. If it is used for teaching higher level skills, it can only be a part of the delivery. To use Sfard’s (1998) terminology, it is more useful for “acquisition” than “participation”.

It is noticeable that the only measurable evidence of video representing an “improvement” in any respect on other efforts relates to a very mechanical type of education, dealing with straightforward knowledge transfer (Armstrong et al, 2011). Video seems to help with knowledge retention which, while is only part of education, but often lays the foundation for other aspects. In business education, for example, students must understand models and theories before they can apply and critique them.

In short, there is good evidence that knowledge transfer via video can be effective, but none that it can teach higher critical skills. This point is highly relevant to recent debates about the potential of MOOCs, which I have considered in more detail in a previous blog post.

Adding variety

There is very strong evidence from a number of studies, summarised by Kay (2012) that well-developed video can be popular and engaging. This means that, where an instructor is using written material and could potentially cover the same content with video, they should consider doing so. An example could be material for case studies, which will add variety to the learning material. This would apply to face-to-face and online teaching.

How to interpret video material

Video, in various forms, is a critical form of communication – the rise of YouTube is only the latest development in this trend (Wesch, 2008). However, in contrast to reading, which forms a key part of the school curriculum, there is little training in interpretation of video. However, our H800 discussion of the video “A vision of students today” (Wesch, 2007), raised the point strongly that we need to be aware of the way in which video is attempting to direct our emotions and views. This is not a specific point to that material – it is a point about video generally.

This recommendation is not specifically aimed at undergraduate students – it can be incorporated at any level of education – but in a degree programme relying heavily on video content, it would be appropriate to include exercises to raise awareness of the way viewers can be manipulated. This will help students interpret video material and receive more benefit from it.


Armstrong, A., Idriss, N. & Kim, R. (2011) ‘Effects of video-based, online education on behavioral and knowledge outcomes in sunscreen use: A randomized controlled trial’, Patient Education & Counseling, vol.83, pp.273-277.

Kay, R. (2012) ‘Exploring the use of video podcasts in education: A comprehensive review of the literature’ Computers in Human Behaviour, vol.28, pp.820-831.

Sfard, A. (1998) ‘On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one’, Educational Researcher, vol.27, no.2, pp.4–13.

Wesch, M (2007) A Vision of Students Today [online], (accessed 17 September 2012).

Wesch, M. (2008) An anthropological introduction to YouTube [online], (accessed 16 September 2012).


Leave a comment

Filed under H800 Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s