When I first started creating online courses, I found that roughly 50% of my students would skip video, e-learning modules, and various other media elements. Students said they watched or skipped based on the time they had available and the perceived value of the content. When they realized that my media elements were supplementary rather than tied into the assessments, they were quick to dismiss them as nonessential if they didn’t have time to watch.
That was a game-changer for me. I started tying my media elements into the assessment process, and my viewing rates rose dramatically. I made sure that my questions required students to watch the media elements in order to succeed on the assessment. However, I also found that students grew weary of long media pieces, especially if the media only contained one or two assessment elements. After a few rounds of student feedback, I now use these three rules of thumb for media elements in courses:
1. Keep media elements short.
Elements that are 5-10 minutes in length are optimal. I find that anything longer typically drops viewing rates.
2. Keep media elements on point.
Academics who love their subjects can end up rambling or sharing too much information. Understand that your students may not share your affinity for the topic and keep your message focused, avoiding tangents.
3. Tie media elements into your assessment process.
If you’re going to have a media element in your course and you want students to view it, then make it valuable grade-wise for them. If you simply add media and students realize that it isn’t tied into an assessment, they will likely skip it.
I know, it may be tough to believe that your students may not want to watch the good stuff you create. I hear you. Your content might be super awesome. But it’s similar to the professor who gives great lectures but only uses questions from the textbook for the exam, and then wonders why some students skip the lecture. So the long and short of it is: if you want students to put in the time, you’ve got to make it worth their while.
Do you have some tips and hints on getting students to watch the multimedia elements in your course? If so, please share in the comments section below. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter!