Engage your Learners with Interactive Video

“In addition to enhancing learning, video can also reduce training time. It’s easier and takes less time to watch a well-made video than it does to read through pages of dense text or complicated diagrams to grasp a concept.”

Andy Cole (Via Brainshark; originally included in The Benefits of Video in eLearning)

Mobile Video
Via Pexels.

In my last post, we explored some benefits of using scenarios in eLearning. Today, we will examine the value of learning with interactive videos using PlayPosit. If you’re not familiar with PlayPosit, it’s an online environment used to create and share interactive video lessons.

PlayPosit Logo
via PlayPosit.

According to Raptivity (2015), interaction occurs in an interactive video when “the learner is shown a video that pauses at set intervals to reveal either additional information or questions to test knowledge. It actively involves learners during a video and gives them feedback whenever required.”

Our team had the opportunity to create an interactive video for an eLearning module we developed for a presentation at the 2017 Michigan OER Summit. Our module used open educational resources (OER) to help learners discover the importance of APA style and how to apply it to their writing.

We used PlayPosit to build an interactive video. A library had shared the original video about APA Style under a Creative Commons (CC) License. The content was fantastic and covered the criteria that we planned to examine in our module. As a result, we were able to create the questions that we wanted to infuse in the PlayPosit to test learner’s knowledge.

Screenshot of one of our interactive questions created with PlayPosit.

After the video showed pertinent information about APA, the video prompted learners to pause and answer a question to test their knowledge.

Interactive Video and Learning Theory

Interactive video learning is anchored in two learning theories: Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) and vicarious learning. SCT is the foundation of interactive video learning and the basis of situated learning, which is where scenario based learning comes from. Vicarious learning means we observe a skill or watch information and then we have a chance to test our knowledge or apply the skill that we’ve learned.

As professionals committed to helping others learn, we want our learners to feel engaged with the content presented to them. We hope that learners will discover the need, value, and relevance of what they learn and then apply it to their lives.

These ideas are the focus of Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory, which we applied in the eLearning example about interactive video. The following andragogic principles are also present in our example:

  • Learners have the opportunity to absorb information in the context of figuring out a problem.
  • Learners are immersed in activities that enable them to tie the subject matter to the application.

The benefits to using interactive video for learning, especially in higher education, include:

  • It facilitates active learning.
  • It engages by grabbing and retaining the learner’s attention.
  • It more clearly displays complex subject matter.
  • It supplies learners with immediate feedback.
  • It easily presents simulations.
  • It’s easier for learners to identify and discuss gaps/problems with peers.

Based on these advantages, it’s clearly valuable to use interactive video for learning.

Interactive Video Using PlayPosit

As an educator, you can sign up and take advantage of PlayPosit’s free options including Multiple Choice and Pause and Play. Here are a few ways that you can get started with interactive videos for learning:

  • Turn an existing static PowerPoint into an engaging narration. The narration can then be turned into an interactive video.
  • Search the Public Domain and OER repositories for content your learners need to know. Look for content with a CCO license, which allows you to modify the content.

PlayPosit is a great tool for creating your first interactive video. Why not give it a try?

Are you a learning theory addict? Do you use interactive videos in your eLearning? Have you ever used PlayPosit to engage your learners? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.


Cournoyer, B. (2017). 12 quotes on why video works for eLearning. Brainshark.

Creative Commons. (2017). “No Rights Reserved”. [online] Available at: https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/

Culatta, R. (2015). Situated Learning (J. Lave). Instructional Design.org

PlayPosit. (2017). highered. [online] Available at: https://www.playposit.com/learn/highered

Learning by watching: Social cognitive theory and vicarious learning. (2015). [Blog] Origin Learning. Available at: http://www.elearninglearning.com/learning-theory/interactive/?open-article-id=3359362&article-title=learning-by-watching–social-cognitive-theory-and-vicarious-learning&blog-domain=originlearning.com&blog-title=origin-learning

Pappas, C. (2017). The Adult Learning Theory – Andragogy – of Malcolm Knowles. [online] eLearning Industry. Available at: https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles

What is OER? (2017). [Blog] Education Week. Available at: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/03/29/what-is-oer-5-questions-about-open-oer.html

The MOOC: Window into our Pedagogical Soul

Remember the “Year of the MOOC” of 2012? What would possess us to even consider such a thing as a Massive Open Online Course? Maybe the MOOC captured our life-long-learner imaginations with the potential to enable free university-level education on an enormous scale.

This royalty free image is from pexels.com
This royalty free image comes from pexels.com.

Even the least of us could take a MIT or Stanford course from the leading expert of the world. Or, maybe the MOOC captured our mind’s eye because at our core we are teachers with an absorbing yearning to share our insightful understandings with as many as possible. But alas, the MOOC luster faded quickly.

There were irreconcilable differences; a feeling of betrayal of our basic values coming from staggering low completion rates. We left “divorce court” feeling the MOOC was nothing more than “mere marketing” hype or, at its worst as abject failures.

There were many explanations for the low completion rates but the principal cause centered on a basic pedagogical necessity for learners to be active and receive personal attention and interactions from their teacher. Being a student in a MOOC was much like being a dazed-video–watching-couch-potato in an infinite virtual lecture hall. It didn’t take long for our eyes to glaze over as we faded into the sunset.

But wait – maybe it’s premature to shut the MOOC door and send it to the “it was a nice idea … but” file. Coursera, the biggest MOOC provider, is investing in R&D, trying to find solutions. Their research led them to embrace an innovative active learning style trying to lift students off those binge-watching couches and have them face their screens and interact.

An experimental section of a Coursera coding skill MOOC requires students viewing a video and immediately demonstrate mastery by building a piece of software. The R&D Team teased out some 20 to 40 coding errors learners commonly make. If the student’s submission reveals common conceptual coding mistakes, a pop-up window appears with a clue, suggesting why they may have made the error.

“(Its) like a … (teacher) looking over your shoulder, giving immediate feedback associated with your mistake,” said Coursera R&D scientist Zhenghao Chen. “Students should have a clear idea why they failed,” Chen said. “Feedback prompts them to correct their misconceptions, to think along different paths.” (Ubel, 2017).

Coursera is not alone. Sense, a New York-based tech start-up with R&D labs in Tel Aviv is testing pattern recognition and semantic analysis methods that automatically bundle student answers to gather common results. The instructor might feed in 50 or more quiz solutions at any time.

The system analyzes student responses and reveals common patterns – successful responses, common mistakes, and even novel solutions – shared among submissions. With the Sense automatic batching in a MOOC, with even thousands of students, faculty can quickly pinpoint useful responses to learners who give similar answers – personalizing faculty-student interaction at scale.

What is the MOOC take away? The MOOC is a recent phenomenon but it is confirming the foundations of our understandings of learning we have understood for decades – authentic learning is active. Think: John Dewey and Jean Piaget.

It is easy to point our self-righteous finger at the MOOC– the truth is we are all sinners.  We know the power of active learning but get caught up in our own MOOC (Massive Onslaught Of Content). We resort to lectures and multiple choice assessments rather than encouraging active learning.

Maybe the research coming from MOOCs will cause us to stop, reflect, and discover new tools helping us reconnect to our pedagogical souls.

Ubel, R. (2017, July). There’s no success like failure.  Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/views/2017/07/19/moocs-test-personalized-online-learning