Video-Based Instruction in Distance
Learning: From Motion Pictures to
Robert A. Wisher
U. S. Army Research Institute
Christina K. Curnow
Video-based instruction is a common denominator in many forms of distance learning. Although correspondence courses have played a larger overall role, instruction delivered through video has been a mainstay in distance learning since the early days of the black and white educational film (Freeman, 1923). The Internet is revitalizing the use of video for instructional purposes. The race is on to create streaming technologies using Internet protocol packets for delivering high-fidelity, full motion video to the desktop. Throughout the past century, an underlying assumption has been that video can be a vital ingredient to learning.
There is little doubt that a well-designed video component stimulates the interest level of students. Plainly, though, video is not essential for all distance learning. Successful examples of learning from phonographic recordings (Rulon, 1943), educational radio (Woelfel & Tyler, 1945), tape-recorded lectures (Popham, 1961), and audio teletraining (Wisher & Priest, 1998) have demonstrated the efficacy of voice alone or voice with printed materials, to name just a few alternatives to video. How necessary the inclusion of video, particularly high-quality video, is to the process of learning from a distance is debatable. As with many issues, the answer depends. It depends on the types of tasks being taught, the individual characteristics of the students, the role of the instructor, and the instructional alternatives available.
This chapter reviews the important findings on the impact of video-based instruction on learning. The main focus is on distance learning, but there are many forms of learning. These include the psychological, persuasive, and vicarious aspects of video communication. Considered to a lesser extent in this chapter, then, is the impact on learning from exposure to mass video communications, such as learning during casual television viewing. Although such environments might lack the formal structure and design of distance learning, they can sway opinion, influence behavior, and alter mannerisms and attitudes. These also are examples of learning from video.
The acquisition and modification of knowledge must be enduring, and learners must become capable of performing actions they could not perform beforehand. Distance learning refers to