POD’15.4 – What I took from a safety video
Yesterday I went to an excellent session at the 2015 POD Conference titled “Creating instructional videos that actually work,” where Judy Brooks and Chad Hershock of Carnegie Mellon shared how they consult with faculty who want to produce videos. Their methods include asking the faculty member to use a rubric to assess a video’s effectiveness.
If you have flown recently, you probably saw an instructional video instead of watching a flight attendant give a safety briefing. On my way to San Francisco for the conference I saw the United Airlines video shown below; it’s clever, humorous, and engaging.
Comparing that to a live briefing is like comparing a flipped class video to a live lecture.
Let’s be clear: video is inherently neither better nor worse than live lecture. What’s an advantage in one situation can be a disadvantage in another. In this specific case, there are some definite pluses for video as a medium:
- The content is carefully crafted. There are no mistakes and nothing is left out. Travelers can watch the video on every flight and the message will be exactly the same.
- It’s efficient. While the video plays, flight attendants are able to get other work done.
- The sound quality is excellent. It’s loud enough and not garbled. The speakers enunciate and none of them has much of an accent.
- Subtitles are included for individuals with hearing difficulties, and they are provided in two different languages.
- Visual effects – animation, zooming, arrows – allow the video to convey meaning in ways that a live human being can’t.
So why would United ever ask another flight attendant to give the safety spiel? For one thing, lots of small commuter planes don’t have video screens. For another, producing the video cost them a LOT of money; it may not turn out to be worth the expense in the future. We’ll see.
My point – and the point of the POD presentation – is that educators need to understand the affordances that video provides. Most professors don’t have the skill, time, or resources to regularly make productions like United’s, but they can make good videos. And if they deliberately take advantage of what the medium does well … they will make better videos.