The Changing Role of Technology in Education: Learning Through Video

By - October 22, 2020

study conducted at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic’s shelter-in-place orders found that the average American watched up to eight hours of streaming video content per day. While that number decreased as the United States started opening back up, this trend is once again a case of the pandemic highlighting what was already happening. As a society, especially younger generations, we're video obsessed. 

Even before COVID-19, our society’s video obsession was clear. A February Forbes article entitled “Looking Deep Into the State of Online Video for 2020” found that 49% of the population watched more than five videos a day. That number is even higher among teenagers, with 69% of US teens watching some online videos every day.

Teens and young adults aren’t just watching influencers lip-synch to pop songs. Gen Z and Millennials are using videos to get inspired and learn: 

  • 86% of all YouTube users (which includes 85% of US teens) use the video-streaming platform to access how-to, instructional, or tutorial videos. 
  • 80% of Gen Z said YouTube has helped them become more knowledgeable, and 68% went even further indicating “YouTube has helped them improve or gain skills that will help them prepare for the future.”  
  • 59% of Gen Z prefers video learning to traditional book learning. 
  • 50% of people in a Google survey said “they don’t know how they’d get through life without video." 

There’s science behind why we learn so well from video. Humans are born hardwired to associate visual objects with behavior and watching moving objects is one of the first ways we learn about the world. In fact, watching activates over 50% of your brain.  

At their most basic level, videos tell a visual story, and stories have always been the way people engage with one another. As the Psychology Today article “The Inside Story” found, “They (stories) are the most effective form of human communication, more powerful than any other way of packaging information. And telling purposeful stories is certainly the most efficient means of persuasion in everyday life, the most effective way of translating ideas into action, whether you're green lighting a $90 million film project, motivating employees to meet an important deadline, or getting your kids through a crisis.”  

As technology and its role in our lives evolves, the ways we create, deliver, and consume stories will also continue to change. The explosion of streaming video has made it the indisputable medium of choice for Millennials and Gen Z. Simply put, today’s students learn through video, and the impact of video content will be important for educators to keep in mind as they strive to meet students where they are. 

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