3 Popular Video Types That Instructional Designers Use In Modern ELearning Courses

cinema-154392_150Traditional learning saw teachers “pushing out” pre-determined syllabi to students over a pre-defined period of time. Over the past decade, however, eLearning has changed that approach of delivering education. As the age of the intra and internet progressed, instructional design has evolved from the “push” to the “pull” approach, with students favoring the “on demand” and “at your own pace” learning method.

Too often however, these self-study eLearning courses are based on a “read-listen-click” flow, turning the act of learning into a rather dull and mundane task, instead of something students look forward to. Thankfully however, the introduction of video in modern e-learning courses is quickly changing how new concepts are more effectively taught to young students and adult learners alike.

Video-based learning plays on the age-old saying, “When I observe, I can understand and do much better”. Thanks to advances in video technologies today, there are a number of visual eLearning strategies that can be used as teaching aids. However, not all of them are suitable for every type of on-demand or self-paced learning. Here are a few of the most popular types of videos that instructional designers often tend to favor:

Talking Head

As the name implies, this type of video instruction favors a “talking head”, much like a news caster, delivering a lecture. Talking heads

  • Deliver relatively simple concepts where listening is more important than seeing or doing
  • Work great when eLearning is delivered to mature (focused) audiences
  • Deliver best results where the “talk” can be scripted

When designing talking head videos, the following instructional design considerations should be kept in mind:

  • Presenters should be pleasing to look at, with clear accents and voice pitch
  • Content should be delivered in short batches
  • The “talk” should be supplemented with additional resources containing website links and transcripts of the talks
  • Videos should be edited and un-necessary pauses and “ramblings’ should be  deleted


These are video-based learning modules that offer situational learning opportunities to the student, depending on certain options chosen or choices made during earlier parts of a learning session. Such eLearning  videos work best when:  

  • Students must apply the knowledge learned to different scenarios
  • There is no single “correct” application of the learning material
  • It is possible to build realistic scenarios based on interactions with the student 
  • The material taught can be simulated in the form of scenarios

The following instructional design elements must be kept in mind when designing scenario-based video learning modules:

  • Learners must be able to relate to scenarios
  • Scenarios should be offered on a graduating scale of complexity
  • Scenarios should use a “building block” approach, where each eLearning module builds on learning objectives from previous modules

Interactive videos

As the name indicates, such videos aim to engage directly with students during the course of a module or an e-learning lecture.  These types of videos are best used when:

  • It is essential to confirm that a particular concept has been understood before proceeding to the next lesson
  • The material taught can be translated into short responses – True/False, Yes/No, Multiple Choice questions, and not verbose essay-type interaction

Some instructional design elements that must be kept in mind when developing an interactive video includes:

  • Keep the interaction lively and engaging
  • Design interactivity intermittently throughout the module, as opposed to leaving it for the end of the lesson
  • Allow students to go back and review segments of the e-learning module if their interaction determines that’s needed
  • Offer positive reinforcement to students after each interactive response
  • Use multiple forms of interaction: video clips, graphs, spreadsheet inputs, intelligence-embedded forms and screens 

Each type e-learning environment is different, and the choice of an appropriate video teaching aid will determine on several factors, including type of material being taught, environment in which learning is taking place (individual study, class room, board room, joint delivery to multiple audiences). And so too must the instructional design considerations, highlighted above, be tailored for best results.  

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