Discussion + Activity
1. At first guess, what do you think is the ideal length for an instructional video?
Watch this video and try to keep track of when you start to feel bored.
1. Research shows that the novelty of a stimulus wears off after about 10 minutes (Medina, 2008). Was this the case for you in this video, or was it different?
2. The average length of YouTube videos is 4.4 minutes (comScore, 2014). Do you think that instructional videos should follow the 4.4 minute guideline or the 10 minute guideline? Why or why not?
3. If you have more content to cover than a 10 minute video can hold, what might you do to obey the length rule and still cover the content?
Instructional video creators often wonder how long their videos should be. Eick & King (2012) surveyed students about their perceptions of YouTube lecture videos. Most of these videos were used for review purposes, and it is important to note that students were not required to watch them. If they were required to watch them, of course they would want shorter videos, less homework! Nonetheless, the students’ responses revealed that they preferred shorter video segments to longer ones. As for how long was too long, the students did not reveal specific lengths. Medina (2008) notes brain research that suggests the novelty of a stimulus wears off after about ten minutes. After ten minutes, the subject needs time to reflect, process, and digest the information. With this in mind, ten minutes might be a good starting point for instructional video designers. It is also worth noting that the delivery platform of the video makes a difference in viewer’s expectations of length. The optimal length of a video on mobile delivery platforms is less than five minutes (Cann, 2007), and in 2014, comScore reported that the average YouTube video length was 4.4 minutes. As Cann points out, this is likely attributed to the state of the viewer. Those who go to the theatre are mentally prepared to be entertained for two hours while those who browse online content are ready to jump and click somewhere else. With this in mind, if the video content requires more than ten minutes of time, it might be wise to break it up into more than one video if possible as to cater to those who are accustomed to short online video content.