From passive viewing to active learning

How can you ensure students actually watch your videos?

Brenda Bailey-Hughes, Senior lecturer, Kelley School of Business, IU Bloomington

400-person fall & 100-person summer professional development course for juniors (primarily asynchronous, with synchronous meetings for rotating team leaders to meet with the instructor and with their team)

Brenda Bailey-Hughes's move to PlayPosit came as the result of an unfortunate realization: Despite all the time and effort she had put into making her videos engaging and witty, her students were not actually watching them. 

It all started with a student email the day before an assignment was due. According to the student, the video was not working. Bailey-Hughes was surprised. Ninety percent of the students had already completed the assignment based on the video, so surely it was working and this student just couldn't make it work. But, sure enough, she went in and saw that she hadn't published the video. It was not available to anyone.

In retrospect, she also realized that her QuickCheck statistics indicated as much. Questions that were not at all difficult -- the correct answer was obvious from the video -- were taking students multiple tries to get right. Bailey-Hughes shared this information with a colleague, who surveyed students about their watching habits. By the students' own admission, they were skimming at best or not watching at all.

Philosophically, I want students to just want to watch my material. I want my content to be so relevant and so engaging that they just can't not sit there and watch. But I also want them to learn. And at best I was getting evidence of guessing instead of learning.

Her first use of PlayPosit was to embed questions into her existing lectures. Basically, she took recordings she had created using Zoom and saved in Kaltura. In PlayPosit, she made the Kaltura videos interactive, embedding quiz questions and links to outside articles. In addition to graded feedback, leader and team meetings gave her a chance to gauge whether students were enacting course concepts, meaning they were actually implementing what they learned.

Visit this feature's related Tech Recipe to learn how to create interactions using PlayPosit. Note: The Tech Recipe also includes a sample bulb from Bailey-Hughes.

"Embedding the questions within the lecture forced me to really clearly identify the learning outcomes. What is it you should be able to answer and do when I've finished saying this? It demanded some specificity and concreteness to a certain extent."

With the interactive features, Bailey-Hughes got higher viewing rates. She could see, via statistics, that students knew what to focus on and what was important in the videos (which they really appreciated). And she came to love certain features, like settings that disable scrolling forward and allow only a certain number of tries to get a question right. That flexibility gave her a lot more control over how students engaged with her videos.

By noting what they missed, Bailey-Hughes knew what to highlight in future modules. It also helped shape her second use of PlayPosit: She recorded a short mock meeting with actors, so she could highlight certain behaviors and team dynamics. As a team, her students then watched and annotated that video, focusing in particular on the team leader. Finally, each team submitted a final comment with a table summarizing the problems, solutions, and resources they identified. (This simplified grading, reducing the submissions from 400 to around 90.)

Interested in more PlayPosit use cases? Be sure to read the following feature on Sarah Smith-Robbins, who brought the first PlayPosit pilot to IU.

Seeking more PlayPosit how-tos and interaction ideas? Be sure to check out this issue's How to Tech column from Matt Barton and Zach Carnagey.

Bailey-Hughes does very little coaching on the technical aspects of PlayPosit, although she does give an example and note how many problems to expect. However, if she is asking students to use a new PlayPosit feature like Notes, she includes a 10-second trailer piece (a PlayPosit bulb template) to show them how. The main problem she runs into is that students sometimes miss the final questions at the end of a video. She now emphasizes in the instructions that the green check mark indicates you are actually done.

The more integrated the activities are, the less her students perceive those activities as busy work. Her advice for others: Think through the pieces of content you are delivering, and where you feel as though your students are just not getting it. Where are they struggling? That way you know where to go with embedded interactions, or where to set aside some time outside class in a flipped classroom model.

For getting started with PlayPosit, she recommends an activity from a Kelley School workshop on PlayPosit she attended. Grab a YouTube video to experiment with, so you know you can't break anything. Use it to create a PlayPosit bulb (interactive video). Start adding interactions like discussion questions or multiple choice questions, so you can practice using different embedded interaction options. What she found was that PlayPosit is more intuitive than other interactive video options she had tried in the past.

Moving to PlayPosit led to some big wins for Bailey-Hughes, and she already has plans to try out a new use in which students use the PlayPosit jump feature (jump sends students back in the video if they miss a question or advances them forward if they get it right) to learn content in the form of a simulation.

"It encouraged engagement, even more so than a separate video and QuickCheck. It integrated a lot of learning activities to reduce the cognitive load. And, with the coach the leader example, it gave students an immersive way to practice that particular skill set through PlayPosit."

Ultimately, she hopes students will enact these practices in their work lives, as emotionally intelligent people and good team members in the real world.