Video-Based Learning: Exploring Effective Design Practices

With each passing year, the role of video in learning and education seemingly becomes more and more significant due to an increasingly mobile learner population and multiple affordances of online content delivery. Video-based learning (VBL) offers learners from all walks of life (e.g., higher education, self-learning, corporate training, etc.) a means to acquire knowledge quickly, conveniently, and on their schedules. As an educator, student, and entrepreneur, I have created and experienced many educational videos. For instance, I encountered lecture videos during my undergraduate studies, produced training videos for my martial arts and fitness business, and spent countless hours learning various skills on VBL platforms such as (a.k.a Linkedin Learning) and Youtube. Upon reflection of my VBL experiences, I recognize that not all educational videos are of equal quality; some videos lead to excellent learning outcomes and experiences, while others fall short in both regards. So then, what makes an educational video effective for learning, and what does an effective VBL design look like exactly? 

A broad literature review on VBL is my first step in understanding the characteristics of effective VBL design. I need to determine which elements of an educational video are essential to delivering positive and inclusive learning experiences that generate optimized learning outcomes. Considerations for VBL design include learner preferences and conditions (including socioeconomic status), corporate influence, technology adoption, interface design, pedagogy and learning theory, video production, subject-matter application, and accessibility. One study that I am looking into suggests three primary learning elements are essential to effective VBL design: cognitive load, student engagement, and active learning (Brame, 2016); I am interested in Brame’s article (2016) because it categorizes VBL design characteristics, much as I aim to do through my research. 

By no means is the above content a complete list of design considerations, but it’s a great starting point. Further, I understand there is a vast amount of information to consider before I can formulate valid conclusions on the topic of VBL design. Still, as an educator who specializes in distance learning, I am obligated to possess the skills, tools, and knowledge to produce compelling learning experiences for a diverse learner population, from start to finish, using digital media. For instance, part of my responsibility as a college instructor is to create asynchronous learning videos to supplement course learning materials. There is no designated team to assist me in producing educational videos, and much like instructional design, I am left to my own devices to deliver these VBL experiences. Luckily, I love working with digital technology and find immense fulfillment in creating digital products that incorporate multimedia. 

In sum, my objective is to critically analyze VBL design best practices by conducting a thorough literature review and evaluating Linkedin Learning educational videos (, n.d.) to improve my current and future VBL practice. I plan to incorporate educational videos and my VBL research into my education practice for the foreseeable future, so I’d like to capitalize on the opportunity to research VBL design during my time in the Master of Arts in Learning and Technology degree program at Royal Roads University (Royal Roads University, n.d.). 

To inform my research, I invite readers to share their thoughts and experiences with VBL. What do you like and dislike about educational videos? Are there any particular video production qualities that impact your ability to learn? Do you have a go-to VBL platform you prefer to use? Do you know of any social, political, or economic factors that impact VBL design? If you have any other ideas or comments that support my objective to understand VBL design, please feel free to leave a comment below. 



Brame, C. J., & Perez, K. E. (2016). Effective Educational Videos: Principles and Guidelines for Maximizing Student Learning from Video Content. 1–6. (n.d.). Lynda: Online Courses, Classes, Training, Tutorials. Retrieved April 17, 2021, from

Royal Roads University. (n.d.). Master of Arts in Learning and Technology. Retrieved April 17, 2021, from


8 thoughts on “Video-Based Learning: Exploring Effective Design Practices

  1. Love the issue you’re focusing on, Jonathan. I use a very small amount of VBL as walkthroughs for teaching foundational skills in Adobe apps. Previously, I had used text-based labs but a student asked if I would be able to create a video to accompany the PDF. It sounded like a good idea so I gave it a go and the students loved it. No more questions about confusing steps in the document and I was able to go provide deeper context about *why* I was doing something in the app or a problem they might encounter. So when I create VBL for a course, it’s typically as an extra rather than the sole source of information, but I don’t really know if this is the best way to use it.

    I have also personally used Lynda (now LinkedIn Learning) for its VBL courses, but found I didn’t really enjoy them. The instructors always seem to speak so incredibly slowly that I would increase the video rate, and they always said. so. much. A course on Adobe Photoshop *Fundamentals* is 12 hours long and one video titled Zooming In and Out is 6 minutes 34 seconds long. Photoshop is a huge piece of software, but “fundamentals” shouldn’t take 12 hours of video. That being said, the amount of content they provide is incredible and if you want to learn as much as possible about a tool, I’d always recommend LinkedIn Learning. Interestingly, when I recommend certain LinkedIn Learning courses/videos to my students, they inevitably go to YouTube and search about the specific issue they’re having instead.

    Regarding production qualities, I don’t really have a strong preference. Sometimes when they are really well produced I find it distracted, but that’s my own personal thing. I like there to be some level of crappiness to a teaching video. Something that says “a person made this and people are fallible.”

    Ok, that’s probably all you want from me for now.

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks very much for your thoughts on VBL. It’s great to hear your students have benefited from your instructional videos. Your question on VBL as a standalone learning modality is a major motivation of mine to explore this research topic. My instincts say more than VBL is needed to support efficient learning, but it likely depends on the subject matter. For instance, some professions require a hands-on learning modality, in addition to theoretical content delivery (e.g. lecture), like engineering, to achieve the desired learning outcomes; however, can VBL incorporate interactive elements to satisfy these learning needs? Enter smart VBL. Smart VBL incorporates interactive qualities (e.g. choose your own adventure) to engage students and promote active learning to instigate optimized learning outcomes – I believe one of the other teams is exploring this topic.

      Interesting feedback on Linkedin Learning. I’ve seen numerous sources suggest video content length absolutely affects student engagement. Even seeing that a video is hours long may deter students from watching it. That said, I agree with your statement that LinkedIn Learning contains an enormous amount of content, which perhaps is the platform’s greatest strength. If you like to learn via video lecture, and have the attention span for it, LinkedIn Learning will deliver.

      1. I haven’t had the opportunity to try Smart VBL, but I imagine it would be a huge step up from that passive learning of VBL. Even when VBL is meant to facilitate a hands-on activity (as in the case of my labs), it is still awkward for those who may not have a second monitor to view it on. How annoying is it to have to jump back and forth in order to engage? Bringing an interactivity to engage in the VBL would be fantastic! Your final paragraph offers up a great line in “if you like to learn via video lecture.” At the end of the day, it will come down to learning preference. While interactivity and production quality will improve the experience, those who just can’t get into learning through video will still struggle with the medium. Very interested in seeing where this inquiry takes you.

        1. Thanks for taking the time to provide your thoughts, David. Learner preferences certainly influence VBL adoption at the end of the day, which as studies suggest, is on the rise.

    2. Great conversation, gentlemen. I’m a huge fan of both LinkedIn Learning and YouTube for quick tutorials. I’m on the other side of the fence from David, however, I find poor production a distraction. I find I’m thinking about how they could have done the video better, rather than focusing on the content. I agree, however, on the concern about video length. My rule is that they should be as short as they can be… but as long as they need to be. Never cut a video short just to meet some invented parameter at the expense of the content… but also, be as concise as possible.

      My biggest frustration is an overly long pre-amble. When I look up a video to learn some specific skill… usually because I’ve come up against a challenge I haven’t encountered before… I’m forced to watch the instructor find the program on their desktop… open a new project… import some content… mess around with some settings… on and on and on… all the while explaining each step in nightmarish detail. Make your video about the skill you’re trying to present… and nothing else.

      1. Thanks for entering that discussion, Christopher! I probably should have explained that really low production quality is also difficult to watch. I think the issue for me is that sometimes, when it is really well produced, it feels like I’m about to be sold something. Your comments about length are bang on and I think it feeds right into your comments about preambles. They remind me of looking up a recipe that has eight paragraphs of story about how the person’s grandparent used to make this and it makes them think of summers in Arizona and they like to watch birds flying in their backyard while they make it in their kitchen and blah blah blah blah. Just gimme the recipe!! Provide the content and let’s move on. That being said, one of my students complained because I “talk too much” in my labs. I suppose I should also work on being concise.

      2. Thanks for your thoughts, Christopher. You make a great point in that learners do not want to watch the setup phase of a lecture, rather, it’s the learning material itself that should be front and center. I’ll be sure to get to the point in my future educational videos. Great feedback!

  2. This is both a fascinating and complex question to pursue. As suggested by both Christopher and David, there are many elements that interact, both within the design of VBL itself and with the expectations and settings of the learners accessing them. This kind of research is very much needed at this time, especially in the context of the “post-pandemic university” and the attendant evolving forms of educational delivery including media.

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