‘How Video Content is Revolutionising Learning’

This has annoyed me today: http://elearninginfographics.com/how-video-content-is-revolutionizing-learning-infographic/, and while I try not to get upset about stuff being wrong on the internet I have found that looking through the literature on using video in education this sort of ill-defined or unevidenced material also appears in much of the published research. The statstics are vague, made up or irrelevant and three of the four panels are nothing to do with learning.It was created by a company who produce an ‘enterprise video platform’, so it is possible that they have a vested interest and most of the sources are of the ‘x things you need to know about y’ variety, so may not be the most rigourously researched and are pretty much to do with marketing and sales.

Apparently,’people learn better and faster with video’ because ‘Visual information is processed 60000 times faster than text’. Even if the second claim is true, it has no relevance to learning. Does the brain’s speed of processing correlate with learning? Is watching a video on YouTube somehow 60000 times ‘better’ than reading the transcript? What is the relevance? And isn’t text visual information? In the literature (an in general education media) learning is often equated with remembering, but speed of processing is a novel correlation.

And speaking of remembering – ‘generally people remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what tey hear’ etc. Which is all very good (especially if you accept that learning = remembering) unless you are concerned that these numbers are probably made up. They have been debunked lots of times (for example here: http://www.willatworklearning.com/2006/10/people_remember.html). A quick web search would have sorted that out.

‘Video use is rapidly growing’. This is probably true, but there appears to be some confusion about the numbers – it will grow from 1.2 billion in 2013 by or to (not clear which) 1.5 billion in 2016 OR from 2.5 billion in 2013 to 5.4 billion in 2016. Both sets of numbers are given. The rise is probably explained by the fact that online video is relatively new (YouTube will only be 9 years old on Valentine’s Day and big online services such as Netflix or BBC iPlayer are newer still) and that there has been a rapid increase in mobile device use allowing users to produce, share and watch content more easliy. The fact that video use is increasing and it is easy to produce and share media is the attraction of looking at video for education, but the rise in itself tells us nothing about how it might usefully be used for learning (and not just remembering things or processing stuff reallly, really quickly). And doesn’t the claim that online videos account for 50% of mobile traffic just relate to the fact that video files are pretty big compared to text messages? These numbers tell us video is popular and the files are big, but not much about it’s usefulness for learning.

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