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The Cognitive Benefits of Interactive Video
Learning and Instruction
Media, such as photos, audio explanations and video, is becoming increasingly common and valuable as a learning resource. In The Cognitive Benefits of Interactive Videos: Learning to Tie Nautical Knots, Stephan Schwann and Roland Riempp reveal that media is more than just a mediated presentation of information:
Iconic media, however, should not be thought of as merely a convenient means of storing and transmitting visual information that is otherwise more or less cognitively equivalent to its " natural " unmediated counterparts. Instead, it should also be realized that one of the main benefits of media-based information presentations is that contents can be customized according to the cognitive needs of users (294).
Media producers can focus on certain components to help the viewer understand the material in a way that would be more efficient than watching an entire process from start to finish from an unmediated perspective. For example, a producer can zoom on a certain part, can spend more time explaining a more complicated component of the process, and can make it easier for the viewer to process the information by cutting out any distractions.
Schwann and Riempp explain that interactive media is a step above non-interactive media for learning because non-interactive media is generally designed for the masses. While non-interactive media will have cognitive benefits for learners, interactive media provides even greater cognitive benefits because learners can control the information they receive. " Interactive media enable the user to adapt the presentation to her or his individual cognitive needs by actively deciding about the " what" and the " how" of a given presentation(296). "
They prove that interactive media improves the learning process for procedural tasks through an experiment in teaching nautical knots. Students were either shown the full length instruction or provided the ability to control what portion of the video was watched at a certain time. Students with access to the interactive versions took a little more than half as much time to learn the material as students who could not control the viewing experience. This improved learning time was attributed to the students ability to distribute their cognitive resources to the sections they needed to focus on more.
Businesses can certainly leverage the benefits of using interactive video for training materials as well. By simply adding chapter markers and menus to make it easier for learners to get to a section, or through immediate probing and follow-up questions to ensure the learners gleaned the important information from the media and keep viewers engaged, the interactivity may help reduce the amount of time it takes learners to learn how to use a software, apply a product, and follow a process.
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