At the Online Learning 2018 conference I had the opportunity to examine the neuroscience behind effective video production.  Mark outlined some of the research he has been involved in in collaboration with MIT and Accenture. Previous research found that students were more successful when video was interesting. They set out to find out what makes video interesting. Some ideas activities like quizzes have been used for a long time, but there was no neuroscience research to examine it in detail.

The Research

The research is being conducted in three phases. Today some initial findings, which are available on this blog site.  It is critical that we examine these questions because we are working in a rapidly changing world. eLearning is the most salable way to meet the needs of learners on an ongoing basis.


  1. Virtual Pilot – with different control groups
  2. EEG Scan at MIT Lab (in progress)
  3. EEG Scan of Accenture Employees

I am very interested in the questions to be answered in phase two and three. the findings from phase 1 were summarized.

Key Points

Scenario-based instruction is better than a talking head. They state that lectures on camera is the least effective way to communicate content. Learners crave a story-line, which can be done through scenarios. Interactive outlines also improve interest. While this is intuitive, they now have some scientific proof. They did find that putting key ideas (words) on the screen is helpful for helping students to memorize content.

In IT examples there was no correlation between instructional strategies and interest. However, interest was impacted by interest in the topic. If it was perceived as relevant was more important than the video. This audience needs targeted and relevant learning.

Growth mindset directly correlated with both expressed interest in the topic, EEG results, and the final assessment. This finding was applicable to both business and IT examples. People with high growth mindsets are able to learn more effectively. How can we improve people’s mindset?

Best Practice

Micro-Learning – content must be broken down into smaller chunks. They suggest that the hippocampus can only handle a 20 minute time limit. I suggest a 5 minute time limit. It sounded like they generally agree. Searchable and indelible content is best.

Triggering an emotional response is needed. Learners need relevance, meaning and emotion. Scenario-based learning triggers the emotional connection and makes learning more memorable. Stories are more likely to change attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. The narrative is important. It stimulates the brain to predict the future. Scenarios should be realistic, capture human interaction and facial signals.

When constructing stories they have a host that provides a narrative, a leader/mentor and the work team.

Reinforcement impacts learning as well. It is known that after 30 days the brain retains about 20% of the information taught. During the first month after the learning it may be helpful to reinforce the content using quizzes, flashcards and other notifications. More research is needed to improve overall learning quality.

My Reflection

This study is interesting, but nothing surprised me. It is logical, which is a good thing. The logic makes it more believable. I hope to see the results of phase two and the final study. It is phase two and three that I am most interested in.

I will try to find a way to improve growth mindset among my students to boost the effectiveness of a variety of teaching and learning strategies. Storytelling is already a goal of mine for education in general. Applying this to my self-created videos may be difficult for some content, but I will watch for opportunities to incorporate it. Relating content to something students may already know is a good strategy to remember for video creation.

Isucc / Pixabay





Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit

1 Comment

Development of “Connecting with Online Learners via Video: Success strategies” @Cambrian_Jess @CineJefft #GlobalSummit18 #onlinelearning2018 #I4PL2018 – Insights from Nurse Killam · November 6, 2018 at 5:01 pm

[…] one of the questions at the end was about our opinion on a presentation earlier in the conference that talked about some neuroscience for effective video production. While […]

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