A Learning Analytics Approach for Evaluating the Impact of Interactivity in Online Video Lectures on the Attention Span of Students

January 26, 2018

As online video lectures rapidly gain popularity in formal and informal learning environments, one of their main challenges is student retention. This study investigates the influence of adding interactivity to online video lectures on students’ attention span.

Interactivity is perceived as increasing the attention span of learners and improving the quality of learning. However, interactivity may be regarded as an interruption, which distracts students. Furthermore, adding interactive elements to online video lectures requires additional investment of various resources. Therefore, it is important to investigate the impact of adding interactivity to online video lectures on the attention span of learners.

This study employed a learning analytics approach, obtained data from Google Analytics, and analyzed data of two Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) that were developed by the Open University of Israel in order to make English for academic purposes (EAP) courses freely accessible.

The paper provides important insights, based on quantitative empirical research, on: integrating interactive elements in online videos; the impact of video length; and differences between two groups of advanced and basic learners. Furthermore, it demonstrates how learning analytics may be used for improving instructional design.

The findings suggest that interactivity may increase the attention span of learners, as measured by the average online video lecture viewing completion percentage, before and after the addition of interactivity. However, when the lecture is longer than about 15 minutes, the completion percentages decrease, even after adding interactive elements.

Adding interactivity to online video lectures and controlling their length is expected to increase the attention span of learners.

Learning analytics is a powerful quantitative methodology for identifying ways to improve learning processes.

Providing practical insights on mechanisms for increasing the attention span of learners is expected to improve social inclusion.

Discovering further best practices to improve the effectiveness of online video lectures for diverse learners.

Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning