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Who amongst us has not surfed channels, barely waiting 5 seconds before clicking the remote control to the 200th TV channel? I for one am guilty of this and looking at the data for our school level GCSE Computing MOOC it appears I’m not the only one that moves to the clicker quickly.
It’s nearly 3 years since we launched www.cambridgegcsecomputing.org in collaboration with Cambridge University Press and Raspberry Pi; built for 14-16 year old learners and their teachers and to our knowledge the first MOOC based on a complete GCSE curriculum. Since its launch on average 40,000 people a month access the sites resources and the 301 videos have had 420,000 views since the complete set was published in September 2013.
Right from the beginning we were intrigued to know what video format is the most engaging for young learners. With this in mind we deliberately created 301 videos of different formats; studio settings with props, screen shots with coding tutorials, talking heads with picture-in-picture graphics, and animations. We also chose to work with teachers from diverse backgrounds in both preparing the scripts for the videos and presenting them.
At the time we were guided mainly by experience and intuition and it’s interesting to see the evolving research on video formats for eLearning, such as the work undertaken by MIT (http://blog.edx.org/how-mooc-video-production-affects) reviewing 6.9 million video watching sessions on the edX MOOC platform. One of their conclusions was that short videos are more engaging, recommending that videos are kept below 6 minutes. We’ve been exploring this and the graph below supports their findings; but for our young audience it is even shorter and our average viewing duration is 1 minute and 29 seconds, supporting our original design decision to try and keep to 3 minutes and under where possible.
Our longest video (just over 8 minutes) was an animation covering a technical piece of content, so we chose a costly high production value animation format; yet only 1 in 4 viewers have watched it all the way through. Whilst our shortest videos, which are mainly talking head with picture-in-picture graphics (animation or text) format, have the highest rate of video viewing completion.
So what does this tell us? Is it about format or is it about content and subject matter, or order and course structure (the topic introductory videos have the highest views), or is it about the presenter? We’re interested to know more to inform our current and planned work for eLearning, particularly the work we are doing for TiME (Training in Maths & English); our eLearning service built for 16+ learners without a good grade in maths or English GCSE and their tutors. For TiME we are exploring new formats, with story based content using young actors, and the student feedback so far from the pilot in Kent has been positive as you can see from these videos http://time.ocr.org.uk/whos-on-time.
Our conclusion is that it is all these things and probably more that impact on engagement, and I explore this further in a speech I’ll make at the Association of Learning Technology’s annual conference in September (https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2015), which looks at our perspective on the known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns in eLearning.
Liam Sammon - Director of Education and Commercial Services
Liam is responsible for the support to the 7,000 education centres and 1.5 million candidates taking OCR qualifications every year. His remit covers the full spectrum of OCR’s support from promotion, preparing to teach, teaching and learning, and results. This includes marketing and communications, events, PR, sales, social media, OCR’s call centre, centre support in the field via OCR’s field force, teaching and learning resources, teacher training, and OCR’s website. He also leads on education technology for OCR, including eLearning and OCR’s expanding range of digital services.