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The Importance of Video Summary Assignments in Online Courses

2 min
Young girl in yellow sweater keeping notes on her notebook.

In online courses and MOOCs students most often access videos, and spend most of their time watching them. However, given the fact that watching a video is a somewhat passive activity how can we be sure that learners have reaped all of the possible benefits from it?

The key is to engage learners in more active processes before, during and after the video experience so they can absorb the information better. Video summaries is a great way to achieve that.

Evidence-based interventions have used video summaries to get insight into how they affect learning. In their research, Van der Zee et al. (2018) compared three groups of learners under different learning conditions:

The first group was given a pre-written summary of the video for the learners to read, the second group was asked to write a review of the video, and the third merely watched the video.

The results were revealing. Learners who read or wrote summaries had higher grades both in the weekly quizzes as well as on the final course quiz. This result is not surprising if we consider the following:

Elearning model example
An example of a video summary in the format of a course to increase memory retention using the testing effect.

Substantially more learners engaged with a pre-given video summary than in the “write a summary” condition (Probably because it required more effort from the learners). And also, reading and writing a summary appeared to both have a positive impact on quiz grades! This is a massive indication for online course creators to avoid asking learners to write a summary on their own. Provide pre-written summaries instead!

Summarizing holds many learning benefits because it goes beyond mere manipulation of information. Students are required to generate or read inferences that go beyond what is presented in the video.

So, ask your learners to read a summary of each video content. It is easily scalable and employable in any course and also functions without feedback. Just add the video summary at the end of your video using one of our beautiful templates or in a separate e-book.

Example of text with feedback
Example of LearnWorlds’ Interactive Video Player with a Text with Feedback.

In case you want your learners to write a summary you can provide a “text with feedback” question in the after video quiz “Please shortly summarize the video for yourself in about three sentences” or ask them to share it with the community to see the benefits ;).

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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.