Effectiveness and Acceptance of Video Presentations in Hybrid Learning Environments

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Patrick Frank
American InterContinental University, South Florida

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Video presentations have become common components in hybrid course development, but their effectiveness is debated and may be indirect.  The impact of video presentations is assessed, student and faculty acceptance issues are analyzed, and the cost versus benefit issue is examined.  Recommendations are made for future research. 

Problem Statement

The need to find the best trade-off in a hybrid course between time in the classroom and time online brings a focus on technology that is unique to hybrid course development.  Video-based technologies can form an important and useful component in hybrid courses, but to what extent are video presentations effective, and if so what specific impact do they have? 

Effectiveness on Learning Outcomes

Results amongst researchers on the value of recorded presentations are mixed.  Lazzari (2009, p.33) did not find a measureable benefit from recordings, but showed that the increased involvement amongst students motivated by recordings improved their test scores.  Malan (2007), in a study of the use of podcasting at Harvard, saw the educational value as “marginal” but found recordings to be beneficial in reviewing lectures notes and studying for exams (p.393).  Deal (2007, p.12) had similar results, and suggested that the technologies themselves do not contain value, but that value is obtained through good content.  Lonn and Teasley (2009, p.91), who created podcasts and analyzed their use by students, also found them to be beneficial when students used them to review material in exam preparation, as did Evans (2008, p.496).  

In a study by McKinney, Dyck and Luber (2009), students who only had access to recordings outperformed students who attended lectures.  However, the average score of students who only had the recording and did not take notes was about the same as those who attended the lecture (p.621).  Furthermore, this was only a small study, with 34 participants in the audio-only group.

Lonn and Teasley (2009, p.92) recommend the curriculum be composed of a variety of resources and student-instructor interactions.  Lee and Chan (2007) found that supplementary recordings reduced student anxiety and the sense of isolation associated with online learning, particularly in hybrid courses that include remote-only students who may perceive inequality in mentoring (p.86).  Fernandez et al. (2009, p.391) found that recordings improved the sense of connection between students and instructors, increased their motivation, supported varied study habits and reduced time spent in the lecture hall. 

Reducing lecture time is also explored by Day and Foley (2006). Students were provided with a video lecture before they came to class.  Class time which would normally have been used for lecture was instead used to discuss lessons and explore the material further.  These students performed better on exams than students taking the course in the traditional manner. 

Acceptance of Technologies

The effectiveness of video presentations is moot if the technology is rejected by students and faculty.  Acceptance also has a direct impact on effectiveness.  A survey conducted by Held (2009, p.150) showed that most students find lecture capture to be an important technology in engaging them in the learning process.  Younger students in particular are motivated by lecture capture, video presentations, and podcasts (p.151). 

A logical question to ask regarding acceptance would be whether students in a hybrid course will use a video recording as a substitute for a lecture if they know that a recorded presentation will be available.  Lonn and Teasley (2009, p.91) found that students did not skip class when lectures were available, and other researchers, including Malan (2007), found that only 18% of surveyed students saw the podcast as an alternative to attending class (p.393).  There is speculation, such as EDUCAUSE (2008, p.2), that this may be because the recording may last as long as the lecture anyway, thus not saving any time, and does not provide the ability to ask questions.  More research is needed in this area. 

Acceptance by faculty is also an important consideration.  New software and faster Internet connections have resulted in better and easier video recording (Hartsell & Yuen, 2006, p.32), but most video presentations are still created by faculty with technical expertise and acceptance is low (Lonn & Teasley, 2009, p.91).  According to Dobbs (2005) training has a direct impact on faculty acceptance and should be considered a critical component when developing a curriculum.  More research is needed on promoting acceptance and training faculty with less technical expertise. 

Another factor is the cost of implementation and training.  Ellis and Cohen (2001) looked at the issue, pointing to a need to carefully balance the cost against improvements in student learning.  More research is needed on actual learning outcomes, particularly in light of more recent technologies such as video podcasting and high-speed cable.  Additional consideration must be given to other costs, such as textbooks, which may be reduced by the use of video (Wright, 2004).  Cobb (2005) looked at methods of cost analysis in comparing online with traditional courses and pointed out that whether a cost is justified by a benefit is just as significant as the cost itself, so while the cost of multimedia needs to be carefully looked at, a higher overall expense should not be a deterrent to implementation (p.1). 

A final consideration is the use of sound in video presentations.  Because the content is visual, sound may not be considered a critical component.  Spickard, Smithers, Cordray, et al. (2004) looked at this issue, studying lectures with PowerPoint slides that did or did not include audio from the instructor.  Students with audio scored consistently better on exams. 

Conclusions and Further Research

The literature confirms a high degree of applicability and effectiveness for video presentation methods in hybrid courses.  While there may not be a direct impact on test scores, an indirect impact through meeting expectations, improving comfort levels, and supporting diverse study methods seems clear.  But implementation methods present many challenges, ranging from training to cost-effectiveness, and careful analysis and weighing of all factors is necessary. 

A comparison of effect on note-taking skills similar to McKinney (2008) could be applied to video recordings.  McKinney looked at the impact of audio recordings on the quality of note-taking.  A similar study with video may suggest that video recordings are more effective than audio alone.  There is little research on the acceptance of faculty with regard to video presentation, and important considerations such as privacy and copyright need more attention.  The issue of intellectual property ownership is recognized and a potential point of contention in policy determination and employment negotiations (EDUCAUSE, 2008), but full range of objections has not been studied.  A study on generational differences would also be useful. 

There is no research on life expectancy of video-based presentations aside from cataloging and conversion of older formats.  For example a presentation on how to use Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 may be less effective once the institution switches to Visual Studio 2010, or it may still be useful.  Study in this area could look at methods for determining how long a recording remains useful, determining when content has expired, and student and faculty perceptions. 

Author Bio

Mr. Patrick Frank
American InterContinental University, South Florida

Pat Frank is an Assistant Professor in the Information Technology and Game Design programs at American Intercontinental University in Weston, Florida. Patrick Frank can be reached at pfrank@aiufl.edu



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