Maximizing the Impact of Instructional Video Length

Rob Power

Author

Rob Power, EdD

Affiliation

Assistant Professor of Education, Cape Breton University

Email

rob_power@cbu.ca

Author’s Note

This chapter was originally published as a blog post on the Power Learning Solutions blog (3 September 2020).

Overview

With the recent surge in blended or wholly online teaching and learning scenarios, there has been an uptick in interest in best practices for the creation of video-based instructional content. Here are a few resources discussing elements of effective instructional video creation — particularly the optimal length for an instructional video. While YouTube statistics show that the top 10 videos on that platform are about 3 minutes long (Baker, 2018), Brame (2015) notes of research in an educational video context that:

the median engagement time for videos less than six minutes long was close to 100%–that is, students tended to watch the whole video (although there are significant outliers; see the paper for more complete information). As videos lengthened, however, student engagement dropped off, such that the median engagement time with 9-12 minute videos was ~50% and the median engagement time with 12-40 minute videos was ~20%. In fact, the maximum median engagement time for a video of any length was six minutes.

Long Story Short

  • Keep your instructional videos in the 5-10 minute range.
  • Stick to one key point per video. If you have a longer lecture topic that you now want to deliver online via video, split the video into short segments. It’s much easier to retain attention and maximize retention. It’s also much more convenient for your audience.
  • Shorter videos are easier to repurpose as reusable learning objects, because they focus on a single key point.
  • With that in mind, avoid using text or saying things that will date your video too quickly. Instead of saying “last year,” say “in 2019.” Little things like that will keep your video relevant much longer, increasing the return on investment for the time it takes to create them!
  • Wherever possible, embed your video directly into your web page or course content page. Avoid redirecting  your audience to an external site (because then you have the problem of redirecting them back to your content when they are finished watching the video!).

The following resources are fairly short reads, and are worth checking out.

Baker, A. (2018, December 4). Optimal YouTube Video Length. [Web log post]. Content Creatorhttps://contentcareer.com/blog/optimal-youtube-video-length/

Bhattacharya, P. (2020). Why Your Ideal Online Course Video Must Be 6-12 Minutes Long. [Web log post]. HubSkills.comhttps://hubskills.com/online-course-video-to-be-6-12-minutes/#gs.elum6y
Brame, C.J. (2015). Effective educational videos. [Web page]. Center for Teaching. http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/effective-educational-videos/

Burch, B. (2020). Video Length in Online Courses: What the Research Says. [Web log post]. Quality Mattershttps://www.qualitymatters.org/qa-resources/resource-center/articles-resources/research-video-length

Guo, P. (2013, November 13). Optimal Video Length for Student Engagement. [Web log post]. EdXhttps://blog.edx.org/optimal-video-length-student-engagement/

Related Resources

Power, R. (2020, February 13). Helping Everyone Access Your Online Learning Resources. [Web log post]. Power Learning Solutionshttps://www.powerlearningsolutions.com/blog/helping-everyone-access-your-online-learning-resources

Power, R. (2020, March 6). Using Video to Provide Assignment Feedback. [Web log post]. Power Learning Solutionshttps://www.powerlearningsolutions.com/blog/using-video-to-provide-assignment-feedback

Power, R. (2020, April 17). Creating a YouTube Channel for Educators. [YouTube video]. https://youtu.be/Uy_5gOV80LY

Power, R. (2019, January 14). Using YouTube to Share Video in an Online Course. [Web log post]. Power Learning Solutionshttps://www.powerlearningsolutions.com/blog/using-youtube-to-share-video-in-an-online-course

Power, R. (2019, January 22). Adding a Human Touch to Online Learning, Right From the Start! [Web log post]. Power Learning Solutionshttps://www.powerlearningsolutions.com/blog/adding-a-human-touch-to-online-learning-right-from-the-start

References

Baker, A. (2018, December 4). Optimal YouTube Video Length. [Web log post]. Content Creatorhttps://contentcareer.com/blog/optimal-youtube-video-length/

Brame, C.J. (2015). Effective educational videos. [Web page]. Center for Teaching. http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/effective-educational-videos/

Power, R. (2020, September 3). Maximizing the Impact of Instructional Video Length. [Web log post]. Power Learning Solutions. https://www.powerlearningsolutions.com/blog/maximizing-the-impact-of-instructional-video-length

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