Video Length in Online Courses: What the Research Says

Barbra Burch, Research and Development Coordinator at Quality Matters

Videos are an important feature of many online courses. In producing and using videos to effectively engage students and improve their learning, one decision instructors and instructional designers must make is how long the videos should be. Here are two studies that provide a lot of useful information for practice:

How Video Production Affects Student Engagement: An Empirical Study of MOOC Videos

A large-scale study from researchers at MIT that used data from 6.9 million video watching sessions. The top of the second page has recommendations for the types of videos that work best, including a recommendation that videos should be shorter than six minutes in length.

Leveraging Recorded Mini-Lectures to Increase Student Learning 

This study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Stout asked students about the impact videos have on their learning. The study concludes, “A majority of students believed the videos helped them learn course content and that the videos were best kept to less than 15 minutes in length.” The methodology section has detailed information on producing videos for online courses.

Another helpful resource on video usage and best practices is Kaltura’s third annual State of Video in Education Report which was released in July, 2016. It appears that videos as a part of online courses are here to stay and that tailoring them to the right length to engage students is an important consideration in providing an overall quality experience.