Video video – and update

(Posts copied from Danegeld blog, 7 Feb 2015.)

Updates: read Videos as knowledge products for another video-sceptic take (20 May 2011). In defence of video, I’d Rather be Writing makes the point that the more familiar you are with something, the less instruction you need (19 August 2011) .

Two tweets popped up in my stream this week on the topic of preferring reading to watching a video or listening to a podcast. Hurrah! I thought it was just me. The information to value ratio for both seems too low.

The tweets:

The Joy of Text (or “Is it just me who hates webinars and video”) – I like to think I keep up with the times. @ianbrodie, linking to his blog post The Joy of Text (or “Is it just me who hates webinars and video”)


Arggh. Can’t take having to watch 10-minute video interviews with content that’d take me 1-2 minutes to read in text form. @peterkretzman, RTd in the run up to this week’s #tcchat on the use of video in documentation.

Both discussions continued over the next couple of days. One response was that information should be offered in a range of formats, to compensate for varying learning styles. I tend to feel this is bending over backwards – in the real world this just may not be feasible. But is it worthwhile offering a talking head video, just because it’s the latest thing?

Another response is that video can offer something over text – showing rather than telling. For example, the #tcchat discussion (see the transcript) highlighted how videos might be appropriate for visual inspection, detail or tasks not otherwise apparent or easily described, such as medical device industry can use vids to train staff how to clean devices. The chat went on to discuss issues around subtitling/captioning, the need to have a transcript, tables of contents within vids…all rather a long way from an organisation shoving up a vid, and calling for resources and skills beyond the reach of many. Is an amateurish vid actually damaging, affecting a website and hence an organisation’s credibilty?

With a lot of podcasts, it shows why professional broadcasters are just that – many sound like they are reading from a script or blokey banter that is a waste of time.

Another issue is the myth of learning styles. Having worked in legal education for several years I was a bit of a learning styles disciple, but a recent Ignite slidecast – oh the irony! – I came across rather pulled the rug out from under me on that one and I’ve kinda gone back to a version of Ranganathan’s a book for every reader – a format for every type of info. See Wikipedia on learning styles entry for more on this. In sum, it appears that catering for differing learning styes generally doesn’t improve learning outcomes or the retention of information.

This may all be part of the change in reading habits, another topic I want to write on. Ian states that statistics show that a lot of people prefer video and audio, and some search on YouTube rather than Google – oh the horror!

Video video revisited, 25 Oct 2012

Update, 6 June: see Using video: from passive viewing to active learning gives some useful examples, including flipping the classroom

Over a year ago I wrote the post above about my uneasy relationship with video. I’ve been watching loads lately, mainly for the MOOCs I’ve registered for, and I’m coming to the conclusion that often ‘just’ one medium is not enough.

Two examples of what I mean…for me, the video experience at events works better with slides, tweets or other commentary alongside in a kind of mashup, while the videos for Coursera’s Social Network Analysis course are such hard work that while I can absorb a little from a first view of much more use are the slides and transcript, where I can zero in on key points. I’m becoming quite a transcript fan – they offer scanability.

And can video (and audio) perhaps better tell the story of an event than word words words? Conference Basics puts forward the concept of the video sprint, which seems to have caught on in Denmark at least – see TedX CPH, the European Sustainable Events Conference and VIBES 2012. Event radio, as heard at ALT-C Live and Pontydysgu’s Sounds of the Bazaar, are the same sort of thing.

So, is it worth going to the trouble of streaming and recording your conference in full? In taking stock of video the Event Amplifier states she is “seeing a worrying trend towards low viewer numbers”, going on to look at measuring video ROI and increasing this over time. In part it’s a content strategy issue – starting with promoting your live stream through to ensuring your videos are integrated into your knowledge base as a whole.

Watching a video represents a time commitment – and if it’s too short, it may raise the question of whether it’s worth the bother. Evidence-based, informative and on YouTube? makes the point that the time you feel you need to communicate to an audience is much greater than the time you are willing to spend watching others, and puts forward some ideas on how to make video more digestible.


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