Embedding Quizzes (and other interactivity) in Video: Part 1 of 2

Recently there has been a surge in the number of requests I’ve received regarding the idea of embedding quizzes in video. Faculty are curious as to whether this is a good technique and how they can create these sorts of things on their own. At least part of this increased interest may be attributed to the rise of MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses), where organizations like Coursera, Udacity and EdX build their online learning platforms around videos with quizzes and other interactive elements. Another place where faculty have likely seen this technique employed is on the TED Ed website where lessons involving multiple choice questions are built into educational TED Talk videos.

Wherever this renewed interest is coming from, I’m happy to report that (a) this is a very good technique leveraging the biggest strength of the web – interactivity – and (b) it’s actually a lot easier to emulate this idea than one might think and there are a number of ways to go about doing so. In part one of this two-part post, I’ll focus on the former idea.

The reason why this technique works so well is two-fold. First of all, video by its very nature is passive and because of television, films, music, and the Internet all of our attention spans (not just those of the students we serve) have become increasingly short over the years. Having a quiz or other interaction pop-up (like a manipulable visualization) every few minutes in a video switches things up for viewers and can increase how long they can pay attention to a video actively.

Secondly, if we look at Bloom’s Taxonomy, video, at its best, can only really reach the 2nd tier of understanding, and I’d argue most videos only reach the 1st tier of remembering (and because video is passive, it’s questionable whether it even reaches that tier). Creating a video mash-up involving quiz questions or some other interaction after every few minutes of video allows the viewer to check their understanding (2nd tier) by applying (3rd tier) and sometimes even analyzing (4th tier) what they just learned in the previous video segment. Ultimately, I’d argue that this helps students reach the more critical thinking oriented tiers in Bloom’s Taxonomy – namely evaluating (5th tier) and creating (6th tier).

Embedding interactivity in a video more often engages an audience, therefore turning passive learning (the presentation of new content) into active learning (letting students “play” with the new content) – and shouldn’t this be what learning is all about? If you agree, then be sure to read part 2 of this post that identifies some ways to add this interactivity to your videos.

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