All posts by Sean Holland

Sean has a background in linguistics and a passion for good design. He speaks Japanese and before joining the design team had lived his entire post-university life in Japan. Sean is eager to help faculty and students get the most out of their online experiences. He loves to explore and notice the unnoticed, and to enjoy talkative moments with anyone who has a story to tell.

Assessing Video Content

What makes effective instructional videos? Which elements contribute to successful learning objectives and retained knowledge?

Takeaways from the Research:
  • High production values may not increase learning
  • Length of video greatly affects attention, aka “The Six Minute Rule.”
  • Inclusion of an instructor’s visage makes videos more engaging.
  • Nearly anything is more engaging than a Powerpoint with voiceover.
  • Prerecorded lectures can’t be improved by chunking.
  • Incorporating interactive questions embedded in video may improve student’s performance as well as satisfy student’s preference.
  • Use an inverted pyramid model to address important content first and ancillary content later.


Bowles-Terry, M., Hensley, M. K., & Hinchliffe, L. J. (2010). Best practices for online video tutorials in academic libraries: A study of student preferences and understanding. Communications in Information Literacy, 4(1), 17-28. Purely instructional videos of  only three minutes are still viewed as too long by some students.

Choi, H. J., & Johnson, S. D. (2005). The effect of context-based video instruction on learning and motivation in online courses. The American Journal of Distance Education, 19(4), 215-227. Video materials are easier to attend to as well as more motivating.

Hibbert, M. C. (2014). What Makes an Online Instructional Video Compelling?. Educause Review Online. Students expected a sophisticated course to include video; Instructor personality is important; Average video viewing length only 4 minutes.

Hansch, A., Hillers, L., McConachie, K., Newman, C., Schildhauer, T., & Schmidt, P. (2015). Video and online learning: Critical reflections and findings from the field.  High production values may not increase learning.

Guo, P. J., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of mooc videos. In Proceedings of the first ACM conference on learning@ scale conference (pp. 41-50). Segment videos into chunks shorter than six minutes.

Lagerstrom, L., Johanes, P., & Ponsukcharoen, M. U. (2015). The myth of the six minute rule: Student engagement with online videos. Age, 26, 1. Different cohorts and audiences can lead to different viewing patterns.

Vural, O. F. (2013). The Impact of a Question-Embedded Video-Based Learning Tool on E-Learning. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 13(2), 1315-1323.  Designing learning activities as part of video viewing may lead to students being more successful in fulfilling learning outcomes.

Stealth Assessment



  • Shute, V., Ventura, M., & FengFeng Ke. (2014). The power of play: The effects of portal 2 and lumosity on cognitive and noncognitive skills. Computers & Education, 80.

  • Wang, L., Shute, V., & Moore, G. R. (2015). Lessons learned and best practices of stealth assessment. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, 7(4), 66-87.

  • Shute, V. J., Wang, L., Greiff, S., Zhao, W., & Moore, G. (2016). Measuring problem solving skills via stealth assessment in an engaging video game. Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 106-117. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.05.047

  • Shute, V. J. (2011). Stealth assessment in computer-based games to support learning. Computer Games and Instruction, 55(2), 503-524.