Nicole Messier, Senior Instructional Designer at IDMPS
June 26th, 2023
WHAT? Heading link
Micro-lecture videos are short videos (typically three to eight minutes long) designed as instructional material for online asynchronous courses or to support instruction for other course modalities (e.g., on-campus, synchronous distributed, hybrid, or online synchronous courses).
Elements of effective micro-lecture videos include:
- Length is three to eight minutes (and should be no more than ten minutes)
- Aligned with one or more learning objectives
- Paired with other instructional materials (resources, readings, etc.)
- Partnered with learning activities that allow students to practice skills or apply concepts learned
- Mindfully planned to foster instructor presence, improve student learning, and support information processing
- Purposeful pauses to encourage note taking for retrieval practice, promote reflective thinking, and mitigate cognitive load
Please visit the WHY section to learn more about processing information and cognitive load.
Types of Micro-lecture Videos Heading link
Types of Micro-lecture Videos
Different types of micro-lecture videos can be designed and implemented in courses; some examples include:
– Micro-lecture videos
– Micro-tutorial videos
– Micro-authentic learning experience videos
– Micro-summary videos
Please select each of the following types of micro-lecture videos to learn more.
Micro-lecture videos can be developed in a lecture style where the instructor covers a topic, clarifies misconceptions, and makes connections to previous knowledge. Micro-lectures can also be developed to expand on concepts introduced during assigned readings.
Micro-lecture videos can be recorded in a light board studio where the instructor is fully visible to the students as they write or draw on a lighted board. For example, the instructor writes and draws while lecturing to create a diagram that incorporates the theory being discussed, key terminology, and concrete examples. Research shows that hand-drawn lecture videos are considered more engaging and interesting by students than traditional lecture videos with static visuals (Chen et al., 2020; Mayer et al., 2020). These videos provide cues from instructors’ gestures, drawings, and gaze, and the information is shared incrementally and synchronously to support essential processing, foster generative processing, and reduce extraneous processing (please visit the guiding principles of CTML below to learn more) (Chen et al., 2020; Mayer et al., 2020).
Micro-lectures can also be recorded using a green screen where instructors can use gestures and gaze to signal or cue students about the visuals around them as they discuss a topic. This technique is similar to a meteorologist demonstrating a weather forecast.
Micro-lecture videos should remind students to take notes and include intentional pauses, so students can follow along while taking notes. Note-taking helps students to select, organize, and integrate important information into previous knowledge (Mayer et al., 2020). And, although students can pause micro-lecture videos, research has shown that students rarely use the pause button when available, so intentional pausing by the instructor is needed (Biard et a., 2017).
Please visit the Video Tools & Services information in the HOW section of this guide to learn more about video recording services (e.g., light board and green screen) available to UIC instructors.
Micro-lecture videos can also be developed as micro-tutorials where the instructor demonstrates how to perform an action or task. In micro-tutorial videos, instructor presence can vary based on the style of the demonstration. For example:
- The instructor is fully visible as they write or draw on the light board (e.g., the instructor is writing out a chemistry calculation in a light board studio).
- The instructor isn’t visible as the micro-tutorial takes on a first-person perspective where the student feels as if they are performing the procedure (e.g., the instructor is demonstrating how to help a patient into the Sims semi-prone position). Research has shown that students feel more involved in the action or task when a procedural video is in the first-person perspective (Mayer et al., 2020).
- The instructor isn’t present on the screen and narrates the screen capture of their computer as they demonstrate how to perform a task (e.g., the instructor is creating a how-to video on utilizing MS Excel for data analysis) (Peng, 2019).
These micro-tutorials can be partnered with learning activities to allow students to practice the skills and tasks introduced by the instructor. Please visit the Micro-lectures Videos with Learning Activities section below for more information on connecting learning activities with micro-tutorial videos.
Micro-authentic Learning Experience Videos
Micro-lecture videos can also apply authentic learning experiences by incorporating scenarios, case studies, and real-world problems, which allows students to demonstrate their application of knowledge when partnered with reflective activities and authentic assessments.
For example, an instructor discusses a scenario for a human resource topic and then poses a series of questions for students to address the scenario in the following assignment. Micro-lecture videos can also pose questions to foster creativity and critical thinking in inquiry-based, problem-based, and scenario-based learning (please visit the Authentic Assessment teaching guide to learn more).
Micro-lecture videos can be developed to summarize or recap a learning experience or a unit of study. For example, an instructor creates a weekly wrap-up of key points, topics, or ideas and discusses how they connect to the upcoming week’s learning. Micro-lecture videos can also be designed to provide feedback from learning activities. For example, the instructor might create a micro-tutorial video on performing an engineering calculation.
Next, students practice the steps in the micro-tutorial to complete a similar calculation. Lastly, the instructor creates a micro-summary video of the activity with general feedback to support students’ ability to perform engineering calculations and problem-solving when errors occur.
Please visit the HOW section for more information on designing and implementing micro-lecture videos.
WHY? Heading link
Theories Supporting Micro-lecture Videos Use
Individuals can only process small amounts of information at a time (working memory), so if students are overloaded with too much information, then they will be unable to process and organize the information into schemas (long-term memory). It is vital that information be broken down and presented in smaller chunks to improve student understanding and retention (Mayer, 2014; Sweller et al., 1998). Two theories that explain how information is processed and learning occurs are cognitive load theory and cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTML).
Cognitive Load Theory
The cognitive load theory contains three elements: intrinsic load, extraneous load, and germane load (Sweller et al., 1998):
- Extraneous load refers to nonessential information that does not support or contribute to student learning and could be detrimental to learning (also known as extraneous processing). Instructors can avoid using irrelevant animations, visuals, or details that distract students, cause cognitive load, and do not support student learning. For example, a talking head animation is displayed on the screen simultaneously with other important information.
- Intrinsic load refers to the instructional content that students need to hold in their working memory and is impacted by its complexity and the student’s prior knowledge (also known as essential processing). For example, if the content is highly complex, instructors can segment information into several micro-lecture videos and focus on one learning objective at a time.
- Germane load refers to the presentation of information and activities that support knowledge transfer from working to long-term memory (also known as generative processing). For example, instructors can pair micro-lecture videos with learning activities that allow students to process information and practice applying knowledge and skills learned.
Instructors can utilize cognitive load theory to design curricula and instruction that support the intrinsic load, minimize extraneous load, and foster germane load to ensure students are successful learners. Please visit the How section to learn more about implementing this theory in your micro-lecture videos.
Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (CTML)
The cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTML) focuses on the processing of information via two channels: auditory and visual (Mayer, 2014):
- The auditory channel refers to sound/verbal processing during a learning experience.
- The visual channel refers to sight/pictorial processing during a learning experience.
The cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTML) suggests that individuals have a limited capacity for processing information through each channel, so instructors should be mindful of the amount of auditory and visual information presented to students to avoid cognitive overload (Biard et al., 2017).
Guiding Principles of CTML
There are several guiding principles in the cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTML) that can support instructors in designing effective micro-lecture videos. These principles are organized into three categories (Mayer, 2021):
- Reducing extraneous processing – strategies to reduce distractions and minimize cognitive load
- Managing essential processing – strategies to support student learning of essential content and skills in working memory
- Fostering generative processing – strategies to support the selecting, organizing, and integrating of content and skills from working memory to long-term memory
Principles to Reduce Extraneous Processing Heading link
Principles to Reduce Extraneous Processing
The following principles will help instructors to minimize extraneous processing (extraneous load) so that students aren’t distracted or overloaded during a learning experience (Mayer, 2021):
- The coherence principle states that extraneous, nonessential elements should be reduced so that the information is coherent. Micro-lecture videos should be designed to remove elements (text, audio, graphics, motion, etc.) that do not contribute to learning (extraneous load).
- The signaling principle states that students should receive cues directing their attention to essential material about to be covered. Micro-lecture videos should be designed with verbal cues by the instructor or by highlighting key material on the screen to signal students to pay attention to important information.
- The redundancy principle states that information should not be duplicated through the auditory and visual channels. Micro-lecture videos should be designed to avoid information redundancy presented through narration and on-screen text. One recommendation is to utilize more visuals and narration and less on-screen text to minimize redundancy.
- The spatial contiguity principle states to keep any text that corresponds with a visual close together so that learners understand the relationship. For example, if labeling a chart or graphic, ensure the text label is close to the visual.
- The temporal contiguity principle states that narration and visuals should be simultaneous. Micro-lecture videos should be created with narration in sync with the visuals displayed. For example, hand-drawn micro-lecture videos provide narration and visuals synchronously.
Principles to Manage Essential Processing
The following principles will help instructors direct essential processing (intrinsic load) so that student learning is improved (Mayer, 2021):
- The segmenting principle states that information should be divided into small chunks of content and that the format should allow students to self-pace their learning. Micro-lecture videos should be designed as short videos with bite-sized segments that students can pause, rewind, and control playback speed. Instructors should also pause during their recording to ask reflective questions and encourage note taking.
- The pre-training principle states that key concepts, terminology, and definitions should be introduced before the micro-lecture video. Micro-lecture videos should be partnered with readings, resources, or other introductory information so that students can receive this information before starting the micro-lecture video.
- The modality principle states that information is processed better from visuals and narration than from visuals and text. Micro-lecture videos should be designed with limited text and rely more on visuals and narration.
- The multimedia principle states that information is processed better from on-screen text and visuals than just on-screen text alone. Micro-lecture videos should contain visuals that support or clarify the information in the narration.
Principles to Foster Generative Processing
The following principles will help instructors support generative processing (germane load) so that students can transfer information from working memory to long-term memory (Mayer, 2021):
- The personalization principle states that information should be presented as an informal conversation, not as a formal speech. Instructors should consider using more casual vocabulary when designing micro-lecture videos.
- The image principle states that instructor presence does not necessarily enhance information processing. Micro-lecture videos should be designed mindfully to determine what should be presented visually. For example, the instructor can demonstrate a skill or present visuals with narration to support the understanding of concepts.
- The voice principle states that narration should be done by an appealing human voice, not by an unnatural computer-generated voice. For example, instructors should use a friendly voice and show positive emotions when on screen.
- The embodiment principle states that if an instructor is present, they should gesture and maintain eye contact. For example, instructors can write or draw in a lightboard studio and point or gesture to key information in visuals.
- The generative activity principle states that activities should be planned during the pausing of videos to support long-term memory. For example, instructors can encourage note-taking and ask students to recall information presented (retrieval practice) during the pauses.
Please visit the HOW section to learn more about designing micro-lectures utilizing these principles and to download a checklist for micro-lecture videos.
Impact of Micro-lecture Videos Heading link
Impact of Micro-lecture Videos
The use of micro-lecture videos as the main instructional material for learning course content and procedural knowledge has been shown to improve student satisfaction, engagement, and performance.
- Increased student satisfaction – students reported that micro-lecture videos were easy to use and useful for learning course material which improved their satisfaction with the courses (Jiang et al., 2022; Kossen et al., 2021; Zhu et al., 2022).
- Increased student engagement – students demonstrated higher levels of engagement, including the number of views and length of viewing time compared with longer video recordings of lectures (Zhu et al., 2022). Students also reported that hand-drawn micro-lecture videos improved their concentration and understanding of the material (Chen et al., 2020). Hand-drawn micro-lecture videos were also considered more favorable when compared with micro-lecture videos with static graphics and images (Chen et al., 2020).
- Improved student performance – students demonstrated improved procedural and academic performance when utilizing micro-lecture videos as instructional material compared with longer video recordings of lectures (Biard et al., 2017; Jiang et al., 2022; Srivastava et al., 2022). In a research study on micro-lecturing and micro-learning patterns (activities partnered with micro-lectures and micro-tutorials), researchers observed an increase of 32% in student conceptual understanding and overall skills (Srivastava et al., 2022).
It is vital to consider incorporating learning activities while designing micro-lecture videos to support understanding, application, and transfer of knowledge. Please visit the HOW section to learn about micro-lecture videos with learning activities.
HOW? Heading link
Designing Micro-lectures Videos
The following steps will support you in designing effective micro-lecture videos:
1. Identify the course goal or learning objective(s) that your micro-lecture will support.
2. Select the type of micro-lecture video (e.g., lecture, tutorial, authentic learning experience, summary, etc.) and the type of recording (e.g., self-recording using video tools or studio recording using green screen, light board, etc.).
3. Determine the pre-training (terminology, definitions, readings, resources, etc.) students need before viewing the micro-lecture video.
4. Write the script for the micro-lecture video, including an introduction, body, and conclusion.
- Use more informal, conversational speech in your script.
- Build in intentional pauses in your script, including reminders for students to take notes and reflect on questions.
- Also, check your word count to ensure that your video remains short (e.g., around 450 words for a three-minute video and 1000 words for an eight-minute video).
5. Decide the level of instructor presence needed for the type of micro-lecture video.
- For example, if utilizing a micro-tutorial then you might be on camera for the entire video. Or you might have varying levels of presence where you are on camera for the introduction and conclusion, and in the body of the video, only your hands are present as you demonstrate a skill.
6. Identify the visuals needed to support learning (if applicable) and write a description of the visuals to improve the accessibility of the micro-lecture video.
- For example, if utilizing a summary video, you may want a graphic organizer or concept map (a visual tool used to display the relationship between concepts) that you will narrate as a review of previous learning experiences.
- Remember to avoid utilizing visuals that don’t contribute to student understanding of the content or require extraneous processing.
7. Identify any on-screen text needed to support understanding of the visuals presented. Remember to place text labels near visuals and to limit the use of on-screen text to avoid redundancy and minimize cognitive load.
8. Identify the learning activities to be partnered with the micro-lecture video
- For example, instructors can intentionally pause for note-taking or ask questions for retrieval practice during the video. Please visit the Micro-lecture Videos with Learning Activities section for more information on designing activities to partner with your micro-lecture videos.
9. Select the appropriate video tool for recording your micro-lecture, if applicable. Please visit the Video Tools & Services for Micro-lectures section for more information.
10. Record the micro-lecture video utilizing a conversational tone. If on-screen, remember to make eye contact, gesture when appropriate, and signal to students when presenting key information.
11. Utilize the automatic closed captioning for any spoken word during the micro-lecture video. Next, edit any errors in the closed captions and insert the descriptions of visuals in the closed captioning (visit the Video Tools & Services for Micro-lectures section for more information).
12. Embed your micro-lecture video on your course site, and after implementing the micro-lecture video, review the analytics for continuous quality improvements. Please visit the Video Tools & Services for Micro-lectures section for analytics information.
Please download the following checklist to help design and review your micro-lecture videos — Micro-Lecture Video Checklist.
Micro-lectures Videos with Learning Activities Heading link
Micro-lectures Videos with Learning Activities
The following are examples of learning activities that can be partnered with your micro-lecture videos:
- Reflective activities – instructors can pose a question during the micro-lecture video, and students can respond through a discussion board, journal, or essay question. For example, an instructor can ask students to reflect on Erikson’s psychosocial development theory, make a connection to their childhood, and then respond through the journal tool in the LMS.
- Retrieval practice activities – after viewing a micro-lecture video, students can answer questions to support their working and long-term memory. For example, after a micro-lecture video on biochemistry, students submit a set of short answer questions on the regulation of gene expressions covered during the micro-lecture video to practice retrieving information learned.
- Concrete example activities – instructors can design activities where students apply examples of theories or concepts introduced during a micro-lecture video. For example, an instructor can create a summary micro-lecture video about three theories and include a graphic organizer assignment (a visual tool used to display the relationship between concepts) where students are tasked with showing the relationship between the three theories and providing examples.
- Practice activities – after viewing a micro-tutorial video, students might be asked to practice an action or task. For example, an instructor could demonstrate how to utilize specific MS Excel formulas for a finance assignment, and then students could download an Excel template provided by the instructor and practice using those formulas.
Video Tools & Services for Micro-lectures
There are two UIC funded and centrally managed video tools that you can utilize to record micro-lectures: Panopto and Echo360. Both of these tools offer automatic closed captioning that can help increase the accessibility of your instructional materials and data analytics to support continuous quality improvement.
Want support in developing and recording micro-lecture videos? Consider scheduling an instructional design consultation to help design your micro-lecture videos or a media consultation to determine your recording needs (e.g., scheduling recording time to utilize the light board or green screen in the studio).
CITING THIS GUIDE Heading link
CITING THIS GUIDE
Messier, N. (2023). “Micro-lecture Videos” Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence at the University of Illinois Chicago. Retrieved [today’s date] from https://teaching.uic.edu/resources/teaching-guides/digital-learning/micro-lecture-videos/
REFERENCES Heading link
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Srivastava, S., T.V., P. (2022). Achieving effective micro-lecturing using micro-tutorials and micro-learning patterns. Conference Paper. https://doi.org/10.56059/pcf10.7228
Zhu, J., Yuan, H., Zhang, Q., Huang, P.h., Wang, Y., Duan, S. Lei, M. Lim, E.G., Song, P. (2022). The impact of short videos on student performance in an online-flipped college engineering course. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 9, 327 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-022-01355-6