Learning 4 MIN READ

How to Draw Attention in Video Lectures

Video lectures are one of the most promising teaching materials in online learning. And you may have already recorded many educational videos.

Having to do with video production, you may often wonder: How can I make it this time so that students won’t lose interest while they are watching my videos?

Well, while creating online courses there is the very critical part of the recording phase of your videos:

Your presence.

How should you behave while recording a video? Or, how expressive should you be?

We did the research to provide you with the right answers.

Using Attentional Cues

When it comes to instructional videos, what is known to affect the learning performance is instructor behavior. Empirical evidence suggests that adding attentional cues in the instructor behavior guides learners’ visual attention and thus improves their learning performance in video lectures.

Attentional cues provide non‐content information that can guide learners’
visual attention at the right time to the information taught by the instructor

Why are attentional cues beneficial for learning?

They decrease the competition in our brains between relevant and irrelevant information and also reduce unnecessary cognitive load. Attentional cues can be achieved initially with facial expressions and appropriate body language.

The Need for Facial Expressions in Video Lectures

The critical problem of learning with video lectures is students’ sense of distance between you and them. This distance affects their learning experience and satisfaction.

Emotion can shorten the distance. The emotion expressed by the instructor’s facial expressions creates the perception of closeness. Namely, it could overcome students’ feeling of isolation in video lectures.

Many instructors haven’t realized the importance of their facial expressions in video lectures and how their emotion affects students. However, it is a fact that the way instructors express is more important than the verbal content of feeling communication.

“Emotions conveyed through instructor’s facial expressions are as
important as the knowledge itself.” (Becker et al., 2014)

Wang, Liu, Chen, Wang, and Stein (2018) for example, investigated this exact question comparing a group of students who were taught by a conventionally expressive instructor with a group of students who were taught by a very expressive instructor. Their study proved three critical assumptions:

Result no.1
Video lectures with a very passionate instructor ignite higher students’ attention compared with a lecture with a conventional level of expressiveness.
Result no.2
Students in the heightened level of expressiveness lecture group manifest a higher arousal level (an index of one’s physiological and psychological state of awakening).
Result no.3
Students who watch a very expressive instructor show higher learning test scores. That means that learners are more focused and learn more.

Given the results of the study, it is inevitable to admit that high instructor expressiveness is a crucial factor for your video design. The circle below will help you understand how high expressiveness works. It seems that increased expression in video lectures:

increasing expression in video lectures

Higher expressiveness also gives essential social cues so that learners can remember an answer to a question. Implicit messages can bring learners back to the happy expression of the instructor when knowledge is conveyed and makes them impressed.

Guiding with Your Gaze to Draw Attention

Gaze guidance is one of the most common signals in human communication to communicate intent. When you guide your students with your gaze you automatically direct their attention towards what you are teaching and also, you provide a sense of social connection and interaction between you and the learner.

Gaze guidance in video lectures means that the instructor is not merely looking into the camera but switches between looking at the camera and the content presentation in the background. These switches might direct the learner’s visual attention away from the instructor’s image to the information you are emphasizing at the moment.

For example, you can stand at a PPT slide or Photoshop software interface, and look at the PPT slides several times.

Research Findings

Research has already confirmed the beneficial effects of gaze guidance. Hongyan Wang, Zhongling Pi, Weiping Hu (2018) in their study on 64 undergraduate students investigated this exact issue. Their study was designed to examine the visual attention and learning performance of learners who watched a video lecture with or without the instructor’s gaze guidance.

They used eye‐tracking technology and questionnaires to test whether the instructor’s gaze guidance affected learners’ visual attention in two video conditions: Videos with and without the instructor’s gaze guidance.

The presenter used the same tone, intonation, description, and explanation of vocabulary in the two videos of each knowledge type, facial expression, and image size on the screen.

The data on learners’ eye movements showed that:

Together, the results are consistent with the social presence theory. According to this theory, social cues provided by the instructor are assumed to activate the learner’s learning engagement.

Overall, these results suggest that your gaze guidance is a powerful cue for learners to switch their visual attention from your face to the content area on the slides.

How to be Expressive in Educational Videos

Be as expressive as you can. A heightened level of expressiveness can act as a marker to the knowledge and impress your learners. Be sure while you record your video to:

Don’t hesitate to express your own opinion! Add some fun and enthusiasm or any feeling that arises while you are performing! Choose your instructional style to make an impact.

So, these were some research-based tips from us. Visit the LearnWorlds Academy to learn more about how to create the best instructional videos with Video-Based Learning.

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Course Designer & Content Creator at LearnWorlds

Anthea is a Course designer and Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team. She holds years of experience in instructional design and teaching. With a Master of Education (M.Ed.) focused in Modern Teaching Methods & ICT (Information & Communications Technology), she supplements her knowledge with practical experience in E-Learning and Educational Technology.