The Value of Short Instructional Videos

Dear Faculty, 

Integrating instructional video into online or face-to-face courses can be a powerful tool to 

  • offer additional explanations about course concepts that students typically struggle with;
  • replace parts of face-to-face lectures to allow more in-class time for students to apply concepts; 
  • establish connections between course content and the real world. 

Faculty integrating video into courses are encouraged to keep those videos short. Brame (2016) recommends that instructional videos should be no more than six minutes. However, this recommendation may encounter pushback from faculty with concerns about providing thoughtful representation of complex content in chunks of video of that length.

After exploring the literature and best practices on recommendations for video length, faculty have discovered that using instructional videos of ten minutes or less will ensure that students will not only watch the video, but also better retain, process, and apply the information discovered there. 

Please consider these top five reasons why instructional videos should be less than 10 minutes: 

  1. Shorter videos are more engaging (Guo, Kim, & Rubin, 2014).
  2. Students may rewatch shorter videos more often (Cooper & Higgins, 2014).
  3. Shorter videos increase student learning (Ibrahim, Antonenko, Greenwood, & Wheeler, 2012)
  4. Breaking a lesson into shorter, “learner-paced segments” helps students process complex information (Mayer, 2008).
  5. The longer a video, the more a student mind wanders, such that their retention of material decreases (Risko, Anderson, Sarwal, Engelhardt, Kingstone, 2011).

If you are interested in integrating instructional video into your course, Academic Technology Services offers two particularly useful resources. First, instructional designers are available to meet with you and help guide you in integration of video into your course. Second, the eLearning Studio in 50 Hutchison provides a place for faculty to work on self-service video productions. For more information on scheduling an appointment with instructional designers or to use the eLearning Studio, please contact Mark Wilson at mwil@ucdavis.edu

Best, 

Alex Rockey

Managing Editor, The Wheel

Post Author: Alexandria Rockey

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