Do video mash ups help or hinder student learning and engagement?
Research Proposal submitted to Dr. Philip C. Abrami in support of the course
requirements for ETEC 513
May 5, 2008
Do video mash ups help or hinder student learning and engagement?
VideoNotes is an online learner centered multimedia tool that wraps around video
streamed course lectures at Carleton University. It allows learners to insert keywords, edit
and rearrange course lectures, and create a personalized lecture mashup. Doing so may
alter the lecture’s original instructional design. VideoNotes effectiveness will be
compared to an existing Internet video on demand (VOD) system, which allows learners
to access streamed course lectures. Effectiveness will be examined via final grade
comparison, questionnaire and tool usage metrics. The results from this study will be
examined and interpreted based within the theoretical framework of constructivism and
cognitive load theory.
The purpose of this research is to examine the effectiveness of VideoNotes as a learner
centered tool, specifically in comparison to traditional instructional television (as
delivered via Internet video streams), and within the context of constructivism and
cognitive load theory. While VideoNotes is a mechanism for the transmission of video
based lectures online, it allows students to do much more than simply watch a lecture.
VideoNotes is not a medium; it is a tool that allows students to construct and manipulate
their instruction in a potentially meaningful fashion.
Since the appearance of the very first instructional media, researchers have analyzed their
impact on learning and students’ achievements. There have been numerous studies
examining the effectiveness of various delivery media and their effectiveness as
compared with a traditional, in-class mode of delivery. The general conclusion by the
majority of researchers has been that there is no significant difference between a new
method of delivery and a traditional classroom (Russell, 1999).
The tools that can now be wrapped around delivery methods continue to evolve and
become advanced. With the advent of rich Web 2.0 technologies, we are beginning to see
learning tools that learners can use to manipulate the medium of transmission. These
tools may allow students to construct a more meaningful and personalized learning
experience from what traditionally, in the case of instructional television has been a
direct, instructor controlled medium. In addition these learner-controlled tools may also
impact and allow students to modify the instructional design contained in the instruction
and may have profound effects on how learners construct meaning, and the cognitive load
they experience as they learn.
VideoNotes is potentially one such tool. It is a web-based, Adobe Flash application,
which allows learners to insert keywords, titles, and descriptions to user defined
segments, (‘clips’) of a webcast class lecture and then allows learner to break a lecture
apart and recombine it into a new and personalized lecture based instruction (Appendix
1). These personalized lectures can be shared and modified by fellow learners, creating a
potential social learning environment.
Following Kozma’s (1994), Mayer (2005), and Yiping et. al (2006) ideas that
contemporary research should investigate how different media characteristics can be
effectively used to support meaningful and more effective learning, this study will
explore the following research questions:
1) Does interactive VideoNotes technology enhance the learner’s understanding and
improve learning effectiveness?
2) Is this technology “just a tool”, a “vehicle for delivering instruction” (Clark,
1994), or does it have characteristics that might allow learners to construct
meaningful learning more effectively and efficiently?
On April 25, 2008 a search was conducted through five education research databases, and
two computer science/technology databases using the query “mashup”, or “remix” and
“video”. The databases and number of studies returned were as follows ERIC (2), JSTOR
(2), CBCA Education (1), PsycInfo (0), PsycAbstracts (0), IEEE Xplore (3), and ACM
Digital Library (27).
The abstracts of theses 34 articles were read to determine whether research had been
conducted into the use of mashups in both practical and experimental studies. Not one of
the articles consisted of research into the use of video mashups or remixes in an
educational context. They are either more concerned with the description of this new
technology and the technical mechanisms.
However, there is a rich and vast literature on distance education and media, and older
media, such as instructional television, audio media, etc. and their effectiveness and
influence on students’ performance, facets of which will be present below.
Instructional Television in Education
As soon as television was introduced to the public, educators started inquiring about
educational potential of a new medium. During the 1950s and early 1960s enrollment in
American colleges and universities increased, while financial support stayed on the same
level, which prompted some administrators to recommend the use of instructional
television. The argument was that instructional television could handle classes with large
enrollment while saving time and money for postsecondary institutions (Frantz, 1965).
Frantz (1965) observed that instructional television does not provide a desirable
interactivity between students and instructors, but despite that, he concludes that “in 86
percent of 393 experiments, students who received televised instruction performed as
well as or better than those in the conventionally taught sections of the same course” (p.
Research studies during the 1990s and 2000s echoed Frantz’s (and others) earlier
conclusions. The most consistent findings comparing traditional classroom instruction
with instructional television suggest no difference between the two in student
achievement (Phipps and Merisotis, 1999). Bacon and Jakovich (2001) compared the
effectiveness of an introductory psychology course taught through instructional television
with the same course as it has been traditionally taught. The study analyzed students’
attrition, attendance, and performance. They found no significant differences between the
three groups of students.
Online Modes of Delivery
There is some research that examines electronic delivery of lectures: synchronized
PowerPoint slides and recorded audio, streaming video lectures, and text based, chunked
Since the late 1990s, there has been significant growth in postsecondary education
delivered through the Internet (Cohen and Brawer, 2003). A frequently used technology
is streaming audio and video. Hecht and Klass (1999) conducted one of few studies about
the use of streaming video technology in off-campus classes. They examined and
compared the achievement of two groups of students, one of which attended a traditional
class, and the other accessed it of-campus, via Real Media streaming technology. The
authors found no difference in students’ final results.
Stephenson et al, (2008), compared two delivery methodologies and structures of online
lectures (synchronized lectures and text based segmented lectures navigation to face-to
face-lectures and determined that performance between the three methodologies were
The Role of Media
Does the medium of delivery play a role? In his article published in 1994 (Media will
never influence learning) Clark argues that media cannot influence learning or
motivation. Clark states that the instructional effectiveness was never a function of the
media of instruction but rather depends on the instructional methods used (emphases
added). The goals of instruction are the same, regardless of delivery media. Clark
summarized his research on media in his 2001 book Learning from Media: “media are
mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement any more
than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition” (2001, p. 13,
emphases added). Clark also argues that educators should choose instructional media
based on costs and not learning benefits (Ibid.).
Clark’s conclusions initiated significant debate among researchers. The most prominent
critic being Kozma (1994), who argues that media and instructional methods should not
been separated. According to Kozma (1994), and Mayer (2005), each medium has unique
capabilities to carry specific instructional methods and educators need to decide how
these capabilities can best be used to promote learning events. Kozma (1994) believes
that instructional methods, technology, and context of learning situation come together to
create a mixture that influences students’ learning. Kozma suggests that, the most
important question one should ask is: “In what ways can we use the capabilities of media
to influence learning for particular students, tasks, and situations?” (1994).
Distance education (DE) depends on media for delivery. Without an appropriate medium,
DE cannot exist (this includes paper based courses). Media does have a role to play, but it
should not be the determining factor in instruction. Bernard et. al., (2004) conclude that
the design of learning materials should follow cognitive principles including
constructivist and socio-cognitive. There appears to be widespread weakness in the tools
of DE (Bernard et. al., 2004).
“Where are the cognitive tools that encourage deeper, active learning – the ones that
Kozma and Cobb predicted would transform learning experiences?” (Ibid., p. 414).
VideoNotes and Theories of Learning
Research into the effectiveness of any new tool to aid learning should be placed within
the framework of an appropriate learning theory. This is necessary to help explain any
observed phenomena. While it may be useful to analyze collected data within a
theoretical vacuum and to observe cause and effect relationships, it is far more useful to
explain the reasons for the observed phenomena.
VideoNotes is a multimedia tool that potentially allows individual students to construct
meaning from a direct instruction teaching method, and to share this meaning with other
students. VideoNotes will be examined within the context of two educational theories:
constructivism and cognitive load theory (CLT).
In the case of VideoNotes, CLT and constructivism can be seen as being potentially
complimentary to help situate and understand how VideoNotes may or may not impact
Constructivism incorporates many ideas and aspects from many different psychologists
and philosophers including Piaget, Bruner, Vygotsky, Dewey (Driscoll, 2005). According
to this instructional framework learners construct knowledge best in an active fashion;
they participate rather than being passive. Instead of being passive and waiting to be
“filled” with knowledge provided by instructors, learners play an active role in their own
learning process. The theory also states that learners bring prior experiences that must be
activated, in order for learning to take place (Ally, 2004). Because learners bring personal
experience, and each learner brings different experiences, learning is personal. Finally
humans are social animals, and learning takes place in a social environment. In summary
constructivism states that learning requires effort on the part of the learner, it is active
and requires students to activate their prior knowledge (Muller et. al., 2008).
Consider how VideoNotes fits within constructivism. The instructional material hosted
inside of VideoNotes is usually anything but constructivist in nature. The materials
consist essentially of direct instruction techniques (lecture); the instruction is very much
However once the lecture is placed in VideoNotes, the tool allows students to take
responsibility in how they use the direct instructional material. By entering keywords and
descriptions at any point of the lecture, are learners not making personal choices about
what and where to enter keywords? Since each learner enters his or her own keywords,
each lecture becomes a personalized learning resource. This way, instead of just receiving
information provided by the instructor, learners are actively engaged with instructional
material, which they contextualize and personalize to meet their own needs. The learners’
choice of vocabulary when entering these keywords and descriptions may be a method of
activating prior knowledge and a way of better preparing the learner to learn from the
The second aspect of VideoNotes to consider is the editing of the lecture by the learner
into clips and their subsequent reassembly. The process of determining what is important
in a lecture again reflects on the personal nature of learning. Each learner using
VideoNotes makes choices about what they feel is important in a lecture and what is of
less importance. When a learner decides that an aspect of the lecture is important
(perhaps based on their previously entered keywords), they are making a personal
decision. This personal decision of importance and less importance may again be linked
to their prior knowledge. A choice not including a concept in a mashup could indicate
that their prior knowledge is already sufficient to understand the concept.
The process of reassembly allows the learner to deconstruct the original instructional
design and to potentially assemble a new lecture into something more meaningful.
Learners can work across topics and lectures, to construct potentially powerful personal
VideoNotes may also address the social aspects of constructivism. Social constructivism
implies that knowledge is constructed from social interaction and collaboration (Fox,
2001). VideoNotes touches on this aspect by allowing learners to share their completed
mashups. Other learners can reuse, reedit and reassemble these mashups into their own
Cognitive Load Theory
The second learning theory that will be applied is Cognitive Load Theory (CLT). CLT is
concerned with the learning of complicated tasks or knowledge, specifically where the
learner can be overloaded with information and cannot process the information quickly or
efficiently for learning to take place (Pass et al., 2004).
CLT works on the assumption that there are two memory systems: a working memory
with a limited capacity and a long-term memory system with essentially unlimited
capacity. Information is stored in these memory systems as schema (Kirschner, 2002)
When learners work with material that is unfamiliar, the capacity of working memory is
small, however if the material is familiar to the learner, long term memory activates and
short term memory capacity becomes large (Pass et al., 2004). The theory suggests that
there are three types of cognitive loads: intrinsic, extraneous and germaine. Intrinsic load
refers to number or amount of information and their interrelations, while extraneous and
germane load is the method of how information is presented and the activities around
them to the learner. If the manner and activities do not contribute to the process of
creating schema it is extraneous; if they are related and it fosters schema creation, it is
considered germane (Sweller et al., 1998).
Ignoring the instructional design of the lecture video itself (which incorporates some
techniques to lower load, with its simultaneous use of visual and auditory materials),
VideoNotes can be examined in the role it plays in how it address cognitive load. Does
VideoNotes lower intrinsic load, does add extraneous and/or germane load?
The learners’ decision process of adding keywords, descriptions, and selecting content
that is meaningful or of less meaning (to them) adds cognitive load as they try to process
the information that is being presented. What kind of cognitive load is this? If the load is
helpful to the learning process, it would be consider germane, however if the load is
extraneous, detrimental effects to the learners ability to learn the information would be
However VideoNotes can also be considered to play a role in potentially lowering
intrinsic load by allowing students to compartmentalize their learning, specifically when
they edit the lecture and reassemble the video lecture into a personalized lecture.
This same process can introduce unintended extraneous load, because the learner can
deliberately break apart an expertly designed lecture. The instructor who assembled,
designed and then delivered the original lecture likely had valid reasons for its initial
structure. Novice learners could break this underlying structure and add extraneous load
as they attempt to learn from an illogically structured lecture.
The purpose of this research is to examine the effectiveness of VideoNotes as a learner
centered tool as compared to learners learning from traditional instructional television
(delivered via Internet video streaming) within the framework of constructivism and
cognitive load theory.
This research will be conducted at Carleton University, a comprehensive university
located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, with approximately 21 000 undergraduate students.
Since 1978 Carleton has offered university credit courses via one way broadcast
television on a local cable television. In 2005 all Carleton University Television (CUTV)
courses were made available via Internet using Real Player in a video on demand (VOD)
format. This Internet video on demand format essentially duplicates the television
broadcast, with the added benefit that students can access the content at their own
CUTV currently offers forty-eight full and half credit courses in the Fall and Winter
terms, comprising approximately 10000 student registrations, representing about 7500
unique students. With more than 1 in 3 students participating in a CUTV course each
academic year, CUTV plays a significant role at Carleton.
A large majority of the 7500 student registered in CUTV courses are on campus students
(i.e. students that attend other courses at Carleton in face to face classroom learning
environments). Students register for CUTV courses predominantly by choice, rather than
being forced into a CUTV course section due to course sections being full. The most
common reasons cited by students when registering in a CUTV section were for reasons
related to convenience or to address class conflicts (Lyons, 2003).
The two methodologies to be compared in this study are instructional television lectures
as delivered via Internet video on demand, and the VideoNotes system.
Instructional Television (Internet Video on Demand)
Students view their course lectures using a computer running Windows or Mac Operating
systems via Real Player player technologies. Lectures are typically posted within 24
hours of lecture being recorded. Students must have high speed Internet and be registered
in the VOD course section to access the lectures. Only students registered in the VOD
section have access to these lectures. Lectures are delivered via redundant content
delivery network to ensure a high quality and reliable viewing experience. Video quality
is approximately equal to VHS tape. Students can pause, fast forward and rewind to any
section of the lecture.
Students view and use VideoNotes course lectures in a similar fashion to the Internet
VOD service. Rather than using Real Player, a modern web browser along with the
Adobe Flash 9 plugin is used. The video content in VideoNotes and the VOD service are
identical. Students must have high speed Internet and be registered in the VOD course
section. Content is also served from a content delivery network and video quality is
similar to VHS tape. In addition to learners having the functionality of VOD, VideoNotes
adds the abilities to keyword, describe, edit, reassemble and sharie video lectures). These
additional tool features are the major differences between VideoNotes and Internet VOD
services and the focus of this research proposal.
The instructional method primarily used by instructors in teaching a CUTV course
section is lecture. The instructional strategies are identical in both VOD and VideoNotes
systems as the medium (video) is identical.
It should be noted that some instructors do use more active instructional methods in their
teaching, (discussions, student presentations etc), but again these instructional strategies
will not vary when comparing VideoNotes to VOD.
The forty-eight courses used in this study are from across all disciplines and range from
first year to third year, with the majority being second year courses. Some of the courses
have small enrollments (40 to 70 students), while other are large (400 or greater). The
demographics (age, sex, standing and study discipline) of students registered in each
course can vary significantly. This is most typically seen in the elective courses offered
on CUTV. See appendix 2 for a listing of courses from the 2007/08 academic year.
Currently students register for a VOD section in Carleton’s course registration system.
Once registered in the VOD section, they automatically gain access to a BlackBoard
Learning System CE Enterprise (formerly known as WebCT 6) course that provides
access to the VOD course lectures. Each CUTV course has it own VOD WebCT 6
course. Only students registered in VOD lectures have access to these courses, and only
the VOD courses that they have registered in.
These WebCT 6 courses will be slightly modified to allow for this research study to be
conducted. Using existing functionality in WebCT 6, the group manager tool will be used
in each VOD WebCT 6 course to randomly and evenly assigning students between two
groups. Using the conditional access controls in WebCT 6, one group will access the
links to the VOD lectures, while the second group will access the VideoNotes system.
Students registered in two or more CUTV course may potentially be assigned to one
system in one course and to the other system in their other course. Group lists from each
course will be exported and compared to ensure that this does not occur; in the event that
it does occur the student’s assignation to one of the groups will be altered.
While the use of the VOD system is straightforward and does not require training or
documentation, VideoNotes is a more complicated tool due to its added functionality.
Students using VideoNotes will be provided with a short tutorial and documentation
illustrating how the tool can be use to add keywords, remix and share class lectures.
There are three sources of data, two quantitative: learner performance and tool use
metrics and one qualitative: learner questionnaire. Each will be addressed separately.
Student Performance Data
One accepted strategy to examine effectiveness of an initiative is to compare student
performance in the form of final grades between the two systems (Fenollar, (2007);
Godwin et al., (2008), and Kochman et al., (2001)). Depending on statistical differences
between courses, the data may allow comparisons to determine overall effectiveness of
VideoNotes across disciplines, instructional strategies, and level of course. The data may
also indicate scenarios were VideoNotes is more or less effective, compared to VOD.
For baseline information, VOD data can be compared to historic data (2005 -2008).
In addition to examining final grade information, course withdrawal rates will also be
compared. This data is currently tracked institutionally.
System use Metrics
The third source of information to be collected and examined will be the log information
collected by the applications running on the servers that the systems are being delivered
from. The log information currently tracks length and number of times, when and what a
learner accesses when they are using either system. This data can be analyzed either as an
aggregate or a granular level on course-by-course basis. This data may indicate
differences of how students use the tool and could allow correlations between
performance and effort.
Metric data will be collected after the courses end and after all requirements have been
At the conclusion of each course and after all course requirements have been completed,
learners will be asked to complete an evaluation instrument in the form of a questionnaire
(Appendix 3 for preliminary draft of instrument). The questionnaire will consist of
demographic questions, Likert-type questions regarding whether the systems played a
role in their learning, and questions on how they used each particular tool. It will consist
partly of questions that will be sourced from previous multimedia/distance education
literature (Evans, 2008; Stephenson et al., 2008; Sole et al., 2001) as well as questions
that will be generated specifically to evaluate VOD and VideoNotes. It will be necessary
to trial the instrument to ensure its validity.
Anonymity and confidentiality will be assured.
This three sources of data will allow for comparisons and may allow for establishing
causality. An example of this would be in the event that learners using VideoNotes
perform better than learners using VOD. This result can be compared with the length of
time students spent using VideoNotes as compared to VOD students, as well as correlated
to learner responses on the questionnaire relating to opinions on each tools effectiveness
in helping their learning.
Limitations and Delimitations
A potential weakness in the study is in the effect of new technology on performance. The
so-called novelty effect (Clark, 1983) may temporarily increase motivation and as such
learners may more time using VideoNotes, and making it difficult to establish causality to
VideoNotes. This may be able to be addressed by conducting this study over a two or
three year period.
Another possibility for limitations could include sample size. Enrollment in some of the
CUTV courses may be too low to generate an effective sample size for both VOD and
This study currently does not compare learner performance in an inclass face to face
learning environment, (although this would be possible as VOD and VideoNotes lectures
are recorded with learners attending the inclass lecture). Nor does this study consider
Significance of VideoNotes Research
Research examining the performance of learners using VideoNotes is less research into
media effectiveness, but rather an important investigation in a student centered tool
within the constructs of two establish learning theories: constructivism and cognitive load
VideoNotes is a type of tool that may allow students to construct personal meaning from
direct instruction. It requires learners to make decisions on what is important, to associate
and activate their prior knowledge when entering keywords and allows students to
arrange topics and concepts in an order that is different from the original instructional
design. These types of activities may place increased cognitive load on the learner. Is this
increased cognitive load extraneous or germane?
This research will be useful to practitioners and researchers, as it will help indicate
whether or not these types of tools and student centered processes help meaningful
learning. This investigation may determine that VideoNotes is the “type of cognitive tool
that encourages deeper and active learning as envisioned by Kozma and Cobb” (Bernard
et al, 2004).
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Appendix 1: VideoNotes Site
Figure 1: VideoNotes Entry page.
Figure 2: Entering keywords, description and creating ‘clips’
Figure 3: Assembling a mashup.
Figure 4: Modifying order of clips in mashup.
Appendix 2: CUTV Course List
BIOL 1010 Biotechnology and Society
BIOL 1902 Natural History
BIOL 1903 Natural History of Ontario
CHEM 1000 General Chemistry
CHEM 1003 Chemistry of Food, Health and Drugs
ERTH 1006 Exploring Planet Earth
ERTH 2401 Dinosaurs
ERTH 2402 Climate Change
ERTH 2403 Introduction to Oceanography
PHYS 1901 Planetary Astronomy
PHYS 1902 From Our Star to the Cosmos
TSES 3001 Technology-Society Interaction
Arts and Social Science
ENGL 2006 Children's Literature
ENGL 3304 Shakespeare
ENGL 3502 British Literature II
FINS 2105 Written Comprehension I
FINS 3105 Written Comprehension II
GEOG 2200 Global Connections
HIST 2303 Canadian Political History
PSYC 1001 Introduction to Psychology I
PSYC 1002 Introduction to Psychology II
PSYC 2001 Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology
PSYC 2100 Introduction to Social Psychology
PSYC 2400 Introduction to Forensic Psychology
PSYC 2600 Introduction to the Study of Personality
PSYC 2700 Introduction to Cognitive Psychology
PSYC 3402 Criminal Behaviour
PSYC 3403 Addiction
RELI 1000 Judaism, Christianity, Islam
RELI 2008 Religion and Aesthetics in India
RELI 2308 Death and Afterlife
Sprott School of Business
BUSI 1001 Principles of Financial Accounting
BUSI 1002 Management Accounting
ECON 1000 Introduction to Economics
LAWS 1000 Introduction to Legal Studies
LAWS 2003 Private Law Relationships
LAWS 2004 Criminal Law in Context
LAWS 2005 Public Law
LAWS 3305 Crime and State in History
LAWS 3306 Crime, Law, Process and Politics
LAWS 3307 Youth and Criminal Law
PSCI 1000 Introduction to Political Science
PSCI 2601 International Relations: Global Politics
SOWK 1000 Introduction to Social Work
Appendix 3: Very preliminary DRAFT Learner Questionnaire
1) How did you use the VideoNotes site (http://videonotes.carleton.ca) this term? (Select
all that apply)
a) Viewing lectures.
b) Viewing video remixes.
c) Creating video remixes.
d) I didn't use Videonotes
2) How often did you use the Videnotes site? (Watching and/or making remixes)
b) 1 to 3 times
a) 4 to 6 times
b) 7 to 10 times
c) 10 - 13 times
d) More than 13 times
3) If you viewed the video remixes created by others, did you find the remixed videos
you viewed helpful to your learning?
a) Very helpful
c) No difference
e) Very unhelpful
f) Not applicable
4) If you created your own remix, did you find the process helpful to your learning?
a) Very helpful
c) No difference
e) Very unhelpful
f) Not applicable
5) If you did not create Videnotes remixes, please describe why you did not? (select all
a) Would take too much time/You were too busy
b) It seemed difficult to use
c) I did not want to share my remixes with other students
d) Remixes seemed unnecessary
e) Other - please explain:
6. Name one thing you liked about Videonotes:
7. Name one thing that you disliked about Videonotes: