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Why Video is a Must in Today's Higher Education Instructional Design

/ Victoria Sambursky

Students work on a project in class. Magenta filter on top of image.

Take a glimpse into today's college classroom, and you’ll see faculty using instructional design methods from the classic ADDIE model to the student-centered Kemp model to shape young minds and improve learning outcomes. However, according to one study, when one university classroom received video lessons in addition to their existing course content, it didn't just increase student knowledge — it moved some students' grades from a B to an A.

"Some learning activities are best-done face-to-face, like class discussion," states one of the study fellows, "But our results show many forms of learning can be done better and more cost-effectively via video."

So, how can college faculty incorporate video and other digital media into instructional design models to elevate their educational goals? And why is this important?

Join us as we take an in-depth look at the most effective higher education instructional design methods and how (and why) video and multimedia tools can be included in today's models to boost student learning, engagement, and retention and prepare them for future career success.

What is instructional design in higher education?

Higher ed students working on computers at table.

Instructional design is a framework for developing learning materials for any grade level, including higher education. Three main components are considered when developing these frameworks to ensure effective learning: educational objectives, learning activities, and assessments.

However, instructional design methods are about more than just content creation; they're part of the evolution of educators' ongoing quest into the science of how students learn. And for any of these models to work, instructors must consider students’ needs and learning styles and the best ways to present the content, including adding interactive video and multimedia tools.

Benefits of leveraging video in instructional design

Integrating video and multimedia tools into instructional design models in today's higher education institutions creates an expansive learning experience that goes far beyond the classroom. According to Boston University Digital Learning and Innovation, using visual and interactive media to support course delivery results in benefits including:

  • When video content is viewed at home (flipped classroom), class time is used for discussion, comprehension checks, and content reinforcement
  • Multimedia content helps enhance the learning process, leading to better knowledge retention
  • Videos provide more opportunities for students to engage with the content. They can also do this at their own pace and on their own time
  • Video can sometimes demonstrate complex ideas better than verbal instruction.

One report highlights the urgent need for integrating digital technologies into today's higher education curriculum. It suggests these tools will prepare students for a more "unpredictable and changing future" where technology will play a vital role. The report notes: 

  • digital tools help identify areas where students may be struggling
  • online polls and other digital technologies engage all students, especially introverted students who would not ordinarily participate in the discussion.
  • student "real-time response systems" promote digital citizenship in the classroom by allowing students to participate in class while also being rewarded.

The paper also states that multimedia tools assist in developing abilities that students will need for career success, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and process comprehension skills.

An article in Fast Company discusses the pivotal role of digital media and how integrating this technology into college curricula prepares students for the future of work. It reveals, “Students need to become literate in in-group collaboration to understand how to work inside a team. Not only does implementing video and multimedia collaboration tools give them real-life skills for the workforce, it also has compounding effects on their education itself.”

Top instructional design models and video learning strategies

Higher ed student raising hand in class.

So, how can today's higher education faculty incorporate video in their instructional design methods to improve student learning outcomes? Below is a list of the most popular instructional design models used in higher education. Also included are innovative ways to use interactive video and multimedia tools in both asynchronous and synchronous environments to develop immersive and interactive learning experiences within the different models.

The ADDIE model — a classic approach

This model is the most traditional and systematic approach to instructional design. The model consists of five step-by-step and interrelated phases:

  • Analysis - assessing students' learning needs and determining the best way to meet those needs.
  • Design - creating the course or program, determining what is included, how it will be presented, and how to reinforce learning.
  • Development - making learning materials like interactive projects and assessments and developing the best way to deliver the materials.
  • Implementation - instructional materials are delivered to the learners.
  • Evaluation - instructors assess the effectiveness of the materials and make necessary changes.

Add video:

Instructors using this method can emphasize the ADDIE "design" stage by using video to create an interactive syllabus. Instead of presenting students with a traditional syllabus, an interactive one guides them through the different sections while introducing video interactions ranging from "check-ins" for understanding to instructor feedback.

In the "development" stage of ADDIE, creating asynchronous courses with on-demand video or recorded video messages can help deliver impactful content and reinforce the material. Creating an introduction with motion titles can give helpful context to future viewers. Adding text bubbles to the video can also provide supplementary information to help strengthen learning. 

The SAM model

The SAM model, short for Successive Approximation Model, addresses the learning need through repeated small steps. The method emphasizes collaboration between instructors, subject matter experts, and learners. This model is especially effective when the course content is changing fast or there is a need for a quick turnaround. The model includes:

  • creating the content materials based on the learners' needs and goals 
  • reviewing and testing the materials with the learners to get feedback and suggestions 
  • revising and refining the materials based on feedback
  • implementing and evaluating the final material to measure its impact on the learners' performance

Add video:

If using the SAM model, create small interactive videos to measure real-time impact. These videos can include brief, engaging interactions interwoven within lectures to maintain student interest. Add pop-up questions like multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank throughout your videos to gauge student understanding in real-time. Adding questions also helps get live student feedback and suggestions.

If creating these videos is not feasible, using educational YouTube videos can be just as effective. With interactive video design platforms like PlayPosit by WeVideo, instructors can add interactive elements to any online video. This tool also allows faculty to incorporate peer review into any instructional video course. Create an open forum and allow everyone to share their feedback, or create small groups so that students get more personalized attention. (By the way — PlayPosit meets Quality Matters (QM) standards for instructional design.)

Higher ed students collaborating on digital devices.

Bloom's taxonomy and Merrill's first principles of instruction

Bloom's taxonomy is a cognitive learning method with principles that help classify and manage learning objectives and outcomes. Bloom's Taxonomy learning model helps instructors identify, organize, and outline what students will learn in the course by:

  • assessing a learner's current level of knowledge
  • creating courses specifically designed to advance their learning 
  • framing learning objectives, activities, and assessments around the verbs provided by Bloom to make learning measurable

It suggests using verbs or actions that reflect the different learning levels, from remembering and understanding to higher levels, such as evaluating and creating. The method also asks instructors to create learning content and materials that challenge learners to move from lower to higher levels.

Merrill's first principles of instruction is a task-centered approach to instructional design. It encourages instructors to provide students with authentic tasks that mimic real-world situations. The model is based on five principles: task-centered, activation of prior experience, demonstration, application, and integration. 

Add video:

Faculty can utilize both instructional design models by having students demonstrate how to solve a real-world problem or complete a skill using video and multimedia tools. Have students create their videos as standalone assignments or request learner-made content like video, audio, or text as part of an assessment. These assignments also help faculty better understand the impact of their instruction so they can make course improvements.

Dick and Carey model

This model is based on the idea that effective instructional design requires a systematic approach to analyzing the needs of the learners, developing clear objectives, designing instruction, and evaluating the effectiveness of the instruction. The method is beneficial for designing courses that require a high degree of individualization to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Add video:

If using this model, try microlearning by creating short videos for students to view outside the classroom. In the video lesson, include three to seven interactions and allow unlimited attempts to complete each task. Instructors can view students' understanding and areas they may struggle with in real time and adjust the next day's lesson accordingly. By combining interactive pre-class video content and focused in-class discussions, courses can be designed to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Another way to meet student's needs is to create explainer videos or animated ones to help break down hard-to-explain or abstract subjects more effectively than text. Explainer or "how-to videos" also free up instructor time by sending a link to the students directly and asking them if they have any questions after watching the video.

Gagne's nine events of instruction

This model, also known as "conditions of learning," is a structured, cognitive approach to instructional design. This model is more like a set of principles and is based on the idea that nine key events must happen for learning, including:

  • gaining attention
  • informing learners of the objective
  • stimulating recall of prior learning
  • delivering the content
  • providing learner guidance
  • eliciting performance
  • providing feedback 
  • evaluating performance and learning 
  • improving retention and transfer 

Add video:

When instructors use this method and teach courses via Zoom or another video platform, adding an audience response system allows students to take live polls, surveys, and questions and answers during the lesson. By utilizing this active learning strategy, students engage with the content at a deeper level. This live interaction improves retention and comprehension while keeping students engaged and focused throughout the lesson.

Using interactive video and multimedia tools is not just an innovative trend but an essential piece in the evolution of instructional design. Including dynamic video content in these frameworks encourages student engagement, enhances learning experiences, bolsters information retention, and champions active learning. By leveraging the power of visual and interactive media, learners are also equipped with the foundation they need to thrive in their future careers.

We hope these instructional design models and digital learning strategies help higher education instructors and faculty discover endless ways to individualize the student learning experience!

Victoria Sambursky.
Victoria Sambursky
Victoria began her career in secondary education, where she worked as a high school English teacher for several years. Eventually, she transitioned to the nonprofit world, working in adult education and later as a scholarship fund director. After the birth of her daughter, Victoria took her love of writing in a different direction and became a professional content writer. Her published works include feature articles, blogs, and interviews on many topics, including higher education and social-emotional learning. These days, you can find Victoria hiking around the Northeast and spending time with her dog, Shelby.