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How do students use video in higher education?

March 16, 2015

Los Angeles, CA. A new SAGE white paper out today reveals the types of educational videos that appeal to students and where they go to find them. Titled "Great Expectations: Students and Video in Higher Education," the paper includes suggestions for librarians as they connect the video resources found in their libraries with researchers, instructors, and students.
Combining previous research with surveys of 1,673 students and a collection of in-depth interviews, study author Elisabeth Leonard, MSLS, MBA, examines how and why students use educational video inside and outside of the classroom, how likely students are to watch videos found in libraries, and presents recommendations for librarians attempting to communicate the video resources they have.
Among her findings, Leonard found the following:

  • 68% of students report watching videos in their classes. 
  • In addition to watching videos because they are assigned or shown during class, 79% of students voluntarily watch videos to enhance their understanding of a topic, to learn the steps necessary to do something successfully, to understand the practical application of a theoretical concept, or to find a video that they can use during their own presentations.
  • For students, the most compelling videos are those that feature a charismatic or compelling speaker who is animated, easy to understand, and will look directly at the camera. While students liked speakers with a sense of humor, humor that seemed unnatural was unappealing.
  • Preferred video length ranged from 5 to twenty minutes, depending on the video topic, type, and relevance.
  • Students are largely unaware of resources that their libraries provide access to and instead find videos through professor recommendations or through YouTube and Google searches. Only 32% of students report searching for videos in the library or on the library’s website. Students expressed a hesitation to using a library’s video resources for fear that they are outdated.

Students recommended that the library market video resources using the library website, the learning management system, social media (including Facebook), e-mail, touch screens inside the library, and posters on bulletin boards near the entrance to the library. They also recommended that the message be clear and target specific services rather than a general message about the library.

"All of these findings help to describe the changing higher education environment," Leonard wrote. "With a diversity of age ranges and life experiences and with a similar diversity of classrooms types (synchronous and asynchronous, in person and virtual), student expectations for videos—including how their faculty will employ videos—are just as diverse as the campus communities to which they belong."

Find out more by reading the full white paper, titled "Great Expectations: Students and Video in Higher Education" found here:

If you are attending the ACRL Conference and would like to join a discussion on the white paper (with free brunch included), please email

If you are attending UKSG, please drop by our stand to join in a discussion around the white paper with Elizabeth Leonard. Please email

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