"How do I add interactivity to online video lectures?" Dear A/V #3

Nov 20, 2020, 12:24 PM by Liam Moran

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Q: I'm mostly pleased with how my online course has run. My lecture videos give a presentation of the material that I can stand behind, and few students reported confusion about the lecture content. I am, however, dissatisfied with the amount of interactivity there is in my course. The discussion forums are hit or miss, depending on the topics, and I'd like to have some more evidence that all students are integrating the material without simply forcing them to endure weekly pop quizzes. Is there any way to make my asynchronous videos more interactive to give me a clearer picture of how my students are learning week-to-week?

The best strategy for including interactivity in your video lectures is to break them up into small enough subtopics that allow you to let the Learning Management System do the work of interactivity for you. This will give you the most control over how students interact with the content and the most immediate feedback on how they are handling the lecture content.

For example on Learn@Illinois, typical best practices are to embed video lectures into a Moodle Lesson or Quiz activity. In a quiz, a video can be placed on a Description page that allows students to step through subtopics of a week's lecture material, which makes it easier for them to review the parts of the lecture where they are weakest. It also allows you to break up subtopics with question pages that check their understanding or get them thinking creatively and out of a passive consume-consume-consume drinking-from-the-firehose mindset.

Moodle Lesson activities allow you an even greater degree of freedom. You can route students who answer questions incorrectly, indicating a common misunderstanding of the material, to remedial content that addressees that specific misunderstanding before they return to the main path of the lesson. Using the LMS to break up your lecture content into topic-specific chunks also allows you to seamlessly guide students from video-based presentation of content to reading assignment or other types of content presentation as best fits each topic.

Similarly, Compass2g courses can be built around interactivity using the Adaptive Release feature. (Here's a good explanatory video.) The idea here is to have the students watch the first video in the module and then perform some gradable activity, and make the next video (or reading assignment, or whatever best fits your vision for how to help students learn the material), adaptively released contingent on a minimal score on that gradable activity. Students then unlock content based on their progress through your module.

The learning curve for Adaptive release is non-trivially steep, but worth the climb since it offers so much flexibility. If you're not enthusiastic about making that hike up, or if you run courses in both Learn@Illinois and Compass2g and would rather have a cross-platform solution for interactivity in video, there are three options built into Kaltura/Mediaspace available to you:

  1. Hot Spots: Where buttons overlay your video for some interval that allow students to jump to a different time in the video or to another website.
  2. Video Quiz: Where the video will periodically pause for the student to answer questions. You will also have a downloadable spreadsheet of their answers to review their understanding of the material. (NOTE: Kaltura's plugin for Moodle/Learn@Illinois doesn't support embedding the quiz into your course; you have to link out to it.)
  3. Interactive Video: This recently released feature allows you to create a choose-your-own-adventure experience through a maze of videos. Since it's a new feature, it has a few limitations. Most notably, captions are not supported in the video player that it uses, so be very careful about building core course content around something that won't work for all students.

Liam Moran
Instructional Media Resources (CITL), |

About Dear A/V
CITL’s media team has been flooded with questions from Illinois instructors about the best ways to teach with technology and media. Dear A/V collects the most common and timely questions and our experts’ comprehensive responses

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