Where Rich Media and Interactivity Meet: An Alternative to Talking-head Videos

February 1, 2018 / By: Michael Wilder

When Professor Chou wanted to include video content in her Principles of Educational Research course, she partnered with STLEAR (St. Thomas' eLearning and Research). Dr. Chou shared a vision of wanting to go beyond an often time over-used approach to video lectures in online courses that some may refer to as "talking-head video". Instead of the traditional talking-head video, Chou and collaborating professor, Dr. Karen Kozen-Lein created interactive videos that combine text, visuals, audio and immediate feedback so students watching them are actively engaged in what they view.

The video lecture on Action Research is one example. Dr. Chou designed the visuals, which includes some of her original artwork! She also provided a text script, which became the transcript to ensure the content is accessible (and meets Americans with Disability Act requirements). Dr. Kozen-Lien narrated each slide, adding emphasis and verbal cues so students focus on important points. An instructional designer and a savvy graduate assistant created the navigation and added interactive elements. Students can easily navigate the information on the screen, follow the transcript, and enter information when asked.  Because the interactive videos display in an HTML-5 compliant wrapper, there's no need for Flash.  

Another example is the from their lecture on Ethics in Research. An interactive timeline invites the viewer click to discover which the context around certain events leading up to Federal Guidelines for Research. Interactive elements like this puts the student in the driver's seat and encourages active participation in their learning.   

The interactive videos are added to the weekly module in Canvas (St. Thomas' Learning Management System) and students simply click a link to view them. While viewing, students either enter text information, which is used as answers later in the video, or answer quiz questions to check their own comprehension of the material. If desired, student's scores can be connected to the Canvas gradebook, or emailed to the instructor.  

These interactive videos are a nice alternative to the typical talking-head lecture. Students enjoy the variety and also have a way to get immediate feedback while viewing, keeping them more accountable for their learning.  The collaborative project involving faculty along with STELAR staff proved to be a great way to produce and distribute engaging course content.   

Thanks to the following contributors for making this collaborative project possible: Dr. Candace Chou, Professor of Education; Dr. Karen Kozen-Lein, Professor of Education; Michael Wilder, STELAR Instructional Designer and Jeffrey Olson, Faculty Member at Normandale College.