John Berger states in his book Ways of Seeing that “seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognises before it can speak.” Videos work on the principle of visual learning – the most efficient method of learning. Studies conducted at MIT shows that the human brain can process entire images viewed in as little as 13 milliseconds. Words, on the other hand, are abstract at best. They take a longer time to process and often even confuse the reader. For example, the term “hot dog” can refer to a dog that is feeling overheated, or it can refer to the popular snack. Show a student a picture of the snack, however, and they immediately know your intended meaning.
The video has changed a lot since the time it was available as cassettes or disks. Video as we know it now is no longer restricted to a physical format, where both educators and teachers would have to wait in line in order to borrow or buy a copy. The contemporary video only requires a working Internet connection, which allows students and teachers to stream videos instantaneously anywhere via their phones, laptops or computers.
In some cases, the video can be accessed through a drive such as the Twig Box, which removes the need for an Internet connection altogether.
The human brain processes information in myriad ways, which is why different people learn in different ways. Video uses cross-modal integration by combining visual and auditory stimuli that complement each other. This means it appeals to visual as well as auditory learners – the two most common types of learning styles.
Duration is key. The theory of cognitive overload suggests that an individual can only process a limited amount of information at a given time, and a clear understanding of this is important in order to match the learning capacity of the individual. Reading long content tires the viewer out and reduces concentration. Videos, however, package information in small bursts, which stimulates sharper focus and interest.
Video allows the learner to control how he or she receives the information by being able to stop, rewind, fast-forward, and replay content as many times as needed. This allows students to learn at their own pace.
The versatility of the video allows educators to adapt it to their own as well as their students’ needs. For example, teachers can assign videos as homework to flip the classroom, or they can use a video call to teach students overseas.
Video bridges the gap between the outside world and the classroom through real-world footage, allowing students to understand how the two are connected. Students can engage with their lessons by actually watching them in action. They could watch the leaf frog jump enormous distances in the rainforest to learn what amphibians are capable of doing, or they could go on a virtual trip to the Supervolcano at Yellowstone. They could even observe a supernova in action to understand what stars are.
Popularity of the video comes down to familiarity. Everywhere we look today, we are surrounded by video. YouTube alone has over a billion users. Combining the popular medium of video with education ensures it appeals to a generation that is labeled as one easily bored. Students’ ready familiarity with video also means that they don’t have to learn how to use the medium.
9. Special needs
Video is also an extremely effective learning tool to teach autistic children. “Autism” is the term used to collectively describe a group of complex disorders of brain development, characterized in varying degrees by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.
Most autistic children are visual learners. Teachers often use storytelling and pictures to help develop language and verbal skills, helping autistic children to focus and improving their attention. However, this is not entirely without drawbacks. In one instance, while teaching up-and-down movements, a teacher used the story of Jack and the Beanstalk to illustrate the action performed in climbing a rope. However, her students could not visualize Jack climbing up the rope, and couldn’t understand the action as a result. In this scenario, a video demonstrating the movement would have allowed the students to understand it.
Let’s not forget fun – no one pays attention when they are bored. And if there’s anything worse than being in a boring class, it’s having to teach one. There’s no reason for students not to enjoy themselves while they learn. Videos incorporate colour, visuals and a sense of wonder into the classroom. And they make excellent topics for discussion or icebreakers in a new or shy class.
These are, of course, only the core benefits of using video in learning. A medium as adaptable and versatile as the video can be used in several other ways to help aid further learning. And although much has been said about the pros and cons of using video – the Internet is rife with entries debating both ends of the argument – we cannot deny that the video is here to stay.