Creating Video Lessons Part 4 – Reducing Cognitive Load!

Moia Rowsome Blog

Ugh! Too much information.

Brain Overload!

Welcome to part 4 of my blogs on creating engaging video lessons! So you have written your script and storyboarded your content. Now it’s time for the really creative process to begin! Enhancing and developing your slides with images and narration! This week, I’m going to be talking about how to use images to develop an engaging video lesson without overwhelming the learner and thus avoiding cognitive load.

Ugh! Too much information!

So we’ve all been there. That long, tired afternoon sitting opposite someone who has filled his or her presentation with diagrams, text and images, while they persist in talking over it. Although the information on the presentation might be excellent and what they are saying might be really good stuff, for the audience or learner it becomes overwhelming and very dull. So we disengage.

But why does this happen? Is it just that we find it less interesting? Well, in the brain there is what we call a dual channel which we use to process information. This happens through the eyes and the ears. The eyes process information we see and the ears process information we hear. And it gets more complex than this. Because the eyes have to absorb images and tiger-1098274_1280read text, they can be subject to what is called the split attention effect. This happens when you have a set of images on a screen to portray a concept and then also text to read too. Your eyes are trying to read the text while working out what the images mean, so you become overwhelmed. This experience is called ‘cognitive load’. The effect can be then exacerbated by someone narrating or talking over this content, causing you to feel really disengaged and bored, so you stop listening…and start to fall asleep…zzzz

So, is there a way of avoiding subjecting our students to this so-called ‘cognitive load’ experience? Well, yes I believe there is! My mantra:  Keep Things Simple. Here some tips on how to keep your students or audience engaged:

  • Be aware of the amount of text you are using. It’s ok to use some text, but start to try and use images more often to represent a point.
  • Substitute on screen text with narration for deeper explanations.
  • You can then use arrows and circles to highlight a point in your video that you are referencing at any given time.
  • Make sure the images you use are simple and support the narration.
  • Make sure your narration is clear, simple and to the point.
  • And watch the length of your video and the amount of content and information you fit in… sometimes it’s better to divide your lesson up into 2 or 3 videos!

Here is a video I made to explain this process. It exemplifies what I believe to be a good approach to making presentations and videos – simple with images and narration! I hope you like it. If you have any videos you have made for your classes, please share them with us as we’d love to see what you are all doing! Also, if you have any other tips like these, we’d love to share them too in our blogs! Oh and make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter too for more blogs and fun activities for the classroom!

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