Accelerated viewing of online courses

Researchers have found that viewing online courses at speeds of one and a half to two times does not impair comprehension or memorization.

Viewing online courses and pre-recorded videos has become the norm for learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. As is often the case with pre-recorded material, students and high school students try to watch them at a faster speed to catch up in a short amount of time. Is the learning process suffering because of this?

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles decided to test this hypothesis. The results of their study are published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology. 231 students were invited to participate in the experiment and they were divided into four groups: in the first group the participants played video at normal speed, in the second — with acceleration of one and a half times, in the third — twice, in the fourth — two and a half.

Students watched two short clips of 13-15 minutes each about the Roman Empire and the real estate market without pausing and without taking notes. Immediately afterwards, they took comprehension tests on the content of the videos with 20 questions each.

It turned out that participants from the groups where the viewing speed was increased by one and a half and twice gave roughly the same number of correct answers (about 25), while participants who watched the video at normal speed answered 26 questions correctly. The worst result was shown by the group for which the speed was increased by two and a half times — only 22 correct answers.

A week later the subjects were retested for video comprehension, but with different questions. The group that watched the video at maximum speed again showed the worst results, with 20 out of 40 correct answers, while the group that watched the video at half speed and half speed again had 21 correct answers. The best result was shown by the group for which the video was not accelerated: 24 correct answers out of 40.

Scientists also tested whether the number of views at different speeds affects the degree of understanding and assimilation of information. So, one group was given the task of watching the videos twice at double speed, while the second group was given only one time at normal speed.

Both groups appeared to have approximately the same result, scoring 25 out of 40 correct answers in the comprehension test. However, when one group was given the opportunity to watch the videos twice at double speed, but a week apart, they scored higher (24 correct answers out of 40) than the group who watched the videos only once at normal speed.

The researchers noted that watching videos at no more than twice the speed does not really impair comprehension and memorization, and this strategy can be used in learning. However, it may not be effective when dealing with particularly complex material.

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