Online Video and Motivation


Communication tools have historically shifted societal time and space dimensions. Instructional design and multimedia components have paralleled in their advancements. Communication advancements have exceedingly invited multimodal information representation within a connectivism reality. Online education’s digital space utilizes technology to mediate instruction. The number of diverse adult learners in online higher education has proliferated and created a unique learning experience. The nuances of the online education industry have created gaps in existing learning theory; for example, what type of instruction approaches best promote learning in this digital and diverse space? Andragogy learners chose to be students who can have characteristics of self-directedness and rich prior experiences. Constructivism utilizing multimodal multimedia can draw upon adult learners motivators, knowledge, experiences. Anchored-based video instruction offers an opportunity for learner-centered problem-solving, connection to peers, and receiving formative feedback. This type of learning theory and instruction migrates away from restrictive reading and writing dominate literacies and summative behaviorism assessments. However, a lack of developed qualitative research concepts on how socio-cultural motivators invited through multimodal constructivism and how they’re assessed in online space is missing. The experiences and performance of online learners is currently assessed primarily through two approaches: learner’s comments in relation to course content and quantitative analytics tracking activity and scores.

Key Terms: anchored-based instruction, constructivism, motivation, multimedia, multimodality, instructional video, socio-cultural.


There is a lack of knowledge on how instructional video artifacts in online higher education motivates students. Most multimedia research focuses solely on user experience reduction of cognitive load design principles. There is also quantitative research that focuses on learning analytics measuring student activity. Hibbert (2015) sheds invaluable qualitative research light onto student’s experiences with instructional video. Her findings formulated a concept of “blurred experiences”, which is students holistically experiencing all online class’ multimedia products. The goal is to draw on the existing research and determine what is currently the “best” instructional approach that utilizes video for eliciting motivation. A secondary goal is to consider future qualitative research exploring socio-cultural motivators through constructivism anchored-based video instruction.

Instructional Video

Instructional video is a component l material utilized frequently in online education. It falls under the umbrella of multisensory multimedia learning artifacts. Hibbert (2015) discusses how multimedia artifacts are experienced as one holistic experience. This means that recollection of live webinars, powerpoints, and videos are commonly confused with instructional video. Also, media players and webpages with nestled video can alter experience. Learners’ sense making abilities don’t necessarily illuminate explicit distinctions between the multimedia artifacts. Learners blur the multimedia and the course learning experiences together based on Hibbert’s qualitative interviewing of online students. Understanding the interdependently blurred experience has significant design implications. 

Instructional video is considered a pre-recorded multimedia material designed with the purpose of a learning goal. Instructional material promoting the best learning outcomes is designed with three components. First, the experiences of the learner must be considered to understand their interpretations and motivations. Second, solid multimedia design principles can reduce cognitive load, while maintaining engagement (Mayers, 2001; Brame, 2015). Third, all multimedia components are holistically blended together with learning content. Acknowledgement of these three components can achieve engaging and motivating multimedia that complements learning goals.

There are many variants of video that can be utilized in online education. Some examples include lecture capture, tutorials, learning presentations, and sometimes documentaries. There is no established criteria on budget or quality, but higher quality and visible institutional branding standards can eliciting perceptions of credibility (Hibbert, 2015). The utilization of different video types is determined by the learning goal. This thesis provides insight into the best usage of instructional video that follows solid multimedia and multimodal design principles. 

Target Learners

Adult learners’ profiles contain characteristics that have implications for instructional designers. Instructional approaches for andragogy must be different from K-12 learners. Adult learners’ motivations, interests, and goals require different instructional scaffolding. These learners are in educational settings because they chose to be. Bonk, Lee, Kou, Xu, & Sheu (2014) discuss andragogy motivation through their survey analysis quantitative findings of online course users. The findings shed light on the strong self-directed learning disposition of andragogy. Conaway & Zorn-Arnold (2015) also argue that self-directed learning is a characteristic and must be utilized in instruction and assessment to elicit motivation.

In addition, andragogy self-directed learning attributes provide insight into how to design for eliciting motivation. Designers must consider what is the reason adults pursue higher education. Understanding the construct of motivation in this population will help create relevant instruction. Bonk et al. (2014) mentions how professional self-interest pursuits is a significant reason and motivation. Dr. Hibbert’s (2015) qualitative interview research of online matriculated students reveal the same findings that professional pursuits motivated adult learners. The students expressed interests in career changes and growth. This means that instructional content and multimedia components must be relevant to meaningful professional endeavors. This could be achieved through tailoring content to the users; for example, incorporating activities less restrictive on outside and inside school knowledge and literacies. Designing with a level of autonomy for opportunity for connecting prior professional experiences or goals could elicit motivation.

Instructional approaches for eliciting motivation differ among Western and Eastern Asian learners. Iyengar & Lepper (1999) conducted qualitative research on learners regarding the relationship between choice and motivation. The study’s curiosity inductively built a concept that agency as a motivational factor is linked to Anglo-Western students. Instructional approaches built around choice is only motivating for Anglo-American learners. The Eastern Asian students in the study demonstrated greater motivation derived from their mother’s influence. Eastern Asian learners were motivated by harmony and credibility of “in-group” members. The difference in socio-cultural motivators has significant implications for designers. 

Online education invites adult learners from diverse backgrounds into a shared learning space. Designers must consider the best instructional approaches and multimedia component material that strike a balance with different learner’s motivational needs. Iyengar & Lepper (1999) discuss how removing agency can have adverse effects on Anglo-Western learner’s health and satisfaction; on the other hand, too much choice will not be demotivating for Eastern Asian learners. There may be a number of solutions for future research, but a current suggestion is for constructivism instructional video with in-group representation. 

In addition, constructivism for a diversity of adult learners draws on their invaluable prior experiences. Adults from all backgrounds have neuronal networks built through their interactions and senses with their cultures and world. Instructional video with constructivism design can work for context-based learning (Choi & Johnson, 2005). Contextualizing and delivering multisensory instructional content can work for many different learners. The opportunity to see and hear with multimedia contents to activities increase the chance to visually decode information to grow neuronal connections (Zull, 2002). Adult learners have higher visual intelligence and are better at visual decoding (Smith and Ragan, 2005). However, the motivational differences of Anglo-Western and Eastern-Asian learners presents an invaluable challenge. First, the learners are driven by similar professional goals, but derive motivation from different places in their socio-cultural worlds. Instructional designers who seek to engage with multimedia can utilize anchored-based video instruction. This learning instruction multimodally represents information, while providing some level of agency with controlled corresponding questions. Also the presenter and branding of the video should be reflective of “in-group” credibility. 

Problem Description


Historical context elucidates how the current relationship between instructional media and instructional design has evolved. The goal of this brief historical overview is to establish a position capable of understanding the significance of past, present, and future technological advancements and instructional learning. Background insight is invaluable for examining how instructional approaches and multimedia components developed; also, it provides insight into residual context containing attitudes and behaviors that influenced the educational “norms” around instructional media usage.  The past contains clues shedding light and explanation for current underlying learning needs and problems.

This section will follow a chronological examination of the intersectionalities of instructional multimedia educational usages. There will be mention of the instructional design field’s fruition; also, how usage of multimodal technologies altered societal time and space dimensions. Different modalities permeate throughout societies and gradually shift as new communication tools are adopted. New ways of communicating alter knowledge, community, and senses of the world (Innis, 1972). Learner’s meaning making and interpreting processes evolve with the technological advancements and modality usages of societies. The shift in communication patterns means that the circulating modalities become multiliteracies and should be reflected into the education space (Carey, 2009). Education incorporating digital communication tools and their modalities in instruction will invite increased engagement and participation (Vesudevan et al, 2010). Instruction reflective of societies multiliteracies will reduce the barriers between knowledge of outside and inside school for increased neuronal connections.

The earliest movement of prevalent multimedia utilization within educational spaces occurred in the early twentieth century. The technological advancements in radio and film mediums motivated an influx of education supplementing instruction with media materials. The phenomenon is referred to as the Visual Instruction Movement (1918-1928). This movement sought to improve education with the usage of visual aids. The media materials also offered the affordance of targeting learner engagement and interests (Schwartz & Hartman, 2005). Learners during that time had limited access to vast amounts of information within the world around them. Incorporating media materials was a significant and new experience for learners. 

Many educators began thinking about how the inclusion of various multimodal learning materials could enhance education. Educators utilized maps, stereopticon slides, films, music, radio news broadcast, etc. materials (Reiser & Dempsey, 2012). However, it should be noted that a device capable of simultaneous sound and film had not developed until the late 1920’s. Hutchinson (2002) mentions how an early device, the vitaphone, had the capability of orchestrating visuals with speech and music. The Vitaphone was not widespread and utilized mostly for entertainment. The mediums provided opportunity for engaging multimodal outside and real-world information to supplement classroom instruction. Integrating media material invited outside multisensory knowledge into the space in exciting ways to see and hear information.

Overtime, simultaneous video and sound devices technologically advanced. More sophisticated devices grew out of capitalistic incentives driving development, such as the television. More accessible video devices resulted in society slowly adopting the medium. The adoption of medium also meant inviting new forms of communication altering societal time and space dimensions (innis, 1972). Households began receiving uniformed time-bias visual and auditory information across vast space. Television contained information that allowed connection to strangers more quickly and across vaster space compared to a book medium; thus, shifting the size of shared knowledge and community. Local knowledge blended across communities in visual and auditory communication.

Instructional technology arguably has grown from the roots of the Visual Instruction Movement using component media materials. The first large scale and prevalent usage of video-based instruction happened during World War II. A copious amount of soldiers lacked proper ability to perform duties. Therefore, psychologists and educators were tasked with observing behaviors and creating training materials (Resier & Dempsey, 2012). Soldiers watched filmstrips intended to supplement their training (Hibbert, 2017). The film’s movement modality showing fluid processes of complex duties targeted recognizing information learning problems.

In the preceding decades, instructional technology evolved beyond engaging media within and outside schools.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s, educational television networks emerged. Public Broadcast Station and Sesame Street (Hibbert, 2017). In the 1960’s and 1970’s, “educational technology” became a defined field by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology Commission. The title of the field has since been debated and even goes by many other monikers, such as learning specialist or instructional design. For this thesis, the title of instructional design(er) is preferred. The field has constantly evolved with complex utilization of instructional approaches and multimedia component advancements. 

The US government continued to seek the educational benefits of multimedia. The US government granted the AECT funding to explore instructional insectionalities between technology and education. The goal of the examination sought to understand how instructional technology benefited learning in schools. Limited knowledge around the benefits existed at that time. However, many competing learning theories and models had begun to formulate. B.F. Skinner developed behaviorism, while Gagne developed a 9-step hierarchical model with roots in cognitivism. Through continued research an effort a design process emerged in the form of “design, implementation, and evaluation” (Reiser & Dempsey, 2012, p. 3). The 3-step process is similar to today’s common standard of ADDIE. This moment in history marks a turning point for the field to think more deeply about the instruction, learning, and media material design process for curriculum.

Instructional technology continued to evolve with the introduction of computer and internet technologies. Hoadley (2015) mentions that the The 1980’s and 1990’s emerging technologies strongly influenced daily thinking processes. Computers began to take some of the cognitive burden as an intelligent technology; therefore, increased ability could happen from the interdependence of machine and human (Salomon, Perkins, Globerson, 1991). Intelligent machines had begun to influence information producing and consuming.

 However, perception of isolation surrounded the identity of a computer user’s role. Hibbert (2015) discusses how early computer user’s interaction reflected task-oriented learning computer activities designed with predictive outcomes. Designers viewed the relationship between technology and users a one-way designed experience. Connectivism and constructivism instructional approaches would exist and proliferate later. It can be argued that the instructional limitations on the computer as a component tool for learning is rooted in behavioral cognitivism theory; for example, the focus on completing prescribed and controlled incremental assignments (Hibbert, 2015). Also, the limitations on the sophistication of multimodal representation of information restricted higher-cognitive and constructivism senses of the world approaches. Hoadley (2015) offers an alternative perspective and argues that the learning science community knew early-on computers were capable of higher-cognitive and motivational tasks.

In addition, the pattern of society gradually adopting technology applied to the computer. Society gradually adopted computer’s with the internet into their homes. At this time, society primarily saw technology through a technology determinism perspective. Most existing technology had been solidified time-bias information delivery, such as television. The idea that experience could be designed influenced the early technologies utilized in instruction. The history of instructional learning approaches and video technology influenced perceptions and attitudes around the  “user” identity. 

Remnants of technology determinism can be seen in today’s user experience design principles. User design anticipates how the user will interpret and interact with their space. User experience draws on social semiosis framing multimodality. However, this field has evolved and has become a solid foundation for multimedia design. Utilizing the field’s principles can reduce cognitive load and increase learner’s abilities through instructional approaches with engaging component multimedia. Video is similar in the fact it has historical roots in a one-way isolating and technology determinism learning approach. However, the blending of user experience design with multimedia has allowed an opportunity to build further instructional understanding. Instructional designers utilizing instructional video build from the foundational principles and evolve into constructivism through technological advancements.

Computer and internet advancements led to increased accessibility and then society’s gradual adoption of communication technology. Schools and homes increasingly purchased the technology along with its vast information affordances. User’s had begun to experience and participate with information in different ways. Learner’s could produce multimedia artifacts and information in forms of images, sounds, videos, etc. These earlier user’s began producing and consuming multimedia component artifacts with their instruction. The gradual adoption of computer mediums had begun another shift in societal time and space dimensions. Learners experienced new ways to see and hear information through a space-bias dimension medium with shorter relevance time information relevance. The time and space shift increased the opportunity for constructivism learning approaches (Jenkins, 2009). Learner’s interdependence and information meditation of the world proliferated.  

The birth of the Digital Age evolved from society’s adoption of computer’s technological advancements. In 2004, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) sought to improve the isolated task-oriented perception of the user/learner. There began an effort to create uniformity across internet space for clearer multimedia and information sharing. In 2012, W3C affirmed Web 2.0 to follow a vision for inclusion of all users. The change opened the interconnectivity of uniformly accessed information. This created instantaneous connections with strangers across vaster space, thus a global community could be possible. Learners across the world communicate and interact with technology based on the principle standards set by W3C. These standards have shaped society’s interconnected and daily communication landscape. Learners utilize the affordances of connectivism to utilize each other’s knowledge to produce and interpret information (Siemens, 2011). 

Instructional learning approaches and technology have strong interconnectedness throughout their inceptions and advancements. Historical analysis of medium usages has shown the ways societies multimodal communication changed. Computer and internet technology have followed this pattern and expanded literacy beyond only reading and writing text-based modality. Information is moving in additional multimedia forms, such as podcasts and videos multimedia. Utilizing these multimedia components in instructional approaches invite the ways knowledge is truly communicated in societies. Currently, instructional media and instructional design have great relevance in online course design.

Online courses can easily integrate outside multimodal knowledge and multimedia artifacts into their course environments. Also, we’re evolving into the Mobile Age where information is on the move (Jonassen, 2014). Mobile devices allow access to information almost anywhere at any time. Producing and consuming information can happen in a myriad of different physical spaces. Mobile technology has contextual implications for instructional instructional design; for example, higher education students might approach multimedia differently, while at work or commuting on a NYC subway. Bonk et al. (2014) discusses how designers must consider how students are accessing educational information in different spaces, such as bus, cafe, home, etc. Learner’s with limited time or not motivated with multimedia not serving a contextualization of learning content purpose. Constructivism anchored based video instruction with solid cognitive reduction multimedia principles can be easily integrated into online education. Also, technology affordances can assess learner experiences with multimodal component multimedia both qualitatively and quantitatively. 

Historical Links to Today

Online education is exceedingly ubiquitous within educational institutions. The 21st century educational space has expanded beyond the confinement of classroom walls. Information permeates throughout the 21st century with the instantaneity of digital communication usage (Jewitt, 2008). The process of disseminating and interpreting information is increasingly mediated through a mobile digital screen. Information with semiotic meaning is framed through multimodality influencing socio-cultural motivators. Learner’s identities are linked with these various multimodal affordances of knowledge expression across their online classroom, home, and community environments.  

The shift in medium affordances has evolved the time and space dimensions of societies. Information is represented and interacted with in various multimedia forms that proliferate information at rapid instantiety (Innis, 1972). This is the current landscape for the 21st century learners; online education is utilizing the instantiety affordances of digital mediums. The multimodal characteristics that contain multiple points of entry for communicating knowledge and identity must be included. Restricting multimodalities without solid instructional reason than that is effectively digital medium usage. Dr. Vesudevan (2010) inductively developed the “breaking the frame” concept shedding light on instructional benefits of increased engagement and participation from multimodal integration in curriculum. Break canonical curriculum with purposeful multimedia materials can increase motivation to learn, 

Instructional design teams (containing video or multimedia producers) are a phenomenon of today’s socially situated time and space dimensional needs. Instructional designers construct meaningful learning approaches with invaluable pedagogical strategies. Designers fill the role of orchestrating the learning needs of our digitally interconnected connectivism knowledge-based world (Howell, 2015). Bonk et al. (2014) mentions that our society has evolved into a world of multimodal information abundance. Learners’ motivation and comprehension can increase through better designed learning, such as establishing best instructional video design practices. 

Acquiring and sustaining the attention of students is a difficult task for a person or online education. Simply using reading and writing literacy activities may not be engaging enough for online students (Sherer & Shea, 2011). Hibbert (2015) argues that simply copying and pasting classroom content into an online environment will not work for engaging students. In-person (also hybrid learning) and online learning environments have different design implications. Multimedia ia superb at engaging can can be a multimodal solution for increasing student motivation to learn.

Communication mediums have always been an extension and holder of societal connections and knowledge. The oral culture of ancient Greece to the proliferation of books have had significant impacts on societies and cultures (Einstein, 1979). Mediums changed the way new ideas information moved across space at a quicker rate. Books and telegraphs had connected communities through shared knowledge. Our current time and space is an evolution of mediums. Our multimodal communication is at a pivotal movement for knowledge. There has been an eruption of information on a global scale. This information is in the form of layered modes containing identities. 

Today’s current time and space resides in the Mobile Age because information is accessible anywhere via cell phones (Jonassen, Howland, Marra & Crismond, 2011). It becomes an issue when institutions avoid purposefully multimedia content delivery in their online learning designs. If designed with reflection of the communication environment, then socio-cultural elements of the learners can be easily integrated. Learners drawing on their senses of the world will be engaged and participate in learning (Kolodner, 2004). As Mcluhan & Fiore (1963) argues “trying to do today’s job with yesterday’s tools-with yesterday’s concepts” (p. 8). 

The time of text-based reading and writing literacy dominance is not how many students glean understanding. Learners are composing and interpreting meaning via the “orchestration” of various modes blurring together to expand the efficacy of meaning making (Hull & Nelson, 2005) Online education has the affordances of easily integrating purposeful multimedia modes into structural approaches, which can still contain text. Multimedia material components, such as instructional video can align with how 21st interact with information. 

Historically curriculum has routinely focused on narrow reading and writing for assessment purposes. Controlling how students glean knowledge creates an easier way to measure learning outcomes (Haertel & Herman, 2005). Vasudevan, Schultz, & Bateman (2010), argue that task-oriented learning exists today to accommodate the heavy usage of standardized testing assessment. This assessment is limiting in the sense that it doesn’t allow students to demonstrate their outside knowledge and skills through the affordances of other mulitliteracies. For example, reading and writing literacies are limiting in their confinement of outside knowledge and community expression. The diversity of online student populations today offer invaluable outside knowledge. Multimodality is becoming more of a “global language” where more perspectives are entering the daily communication (Hull & Nelson, 2005). However, there is the problem that standardized tests cannot be simply replaced and ignored educators. A solution is for online courses to consider utilizing multimedia component material to motivate students.

Gaps in Current Research

There are knowledge gaps in the best instructional video practices for online high education. Hibbert (2015) argues there is no conclusive evidence of solid online practices that work for every learner. There exist a nebulous criteria for how multimedia can be best utilized for promoting learning. United States schools are known for their test-based assessments. The tests are behaviorists assessments because lessons are repeated to meet a predictive scoring of success. Text-based literacy is a relatively easy modality to assess for measuring student performance (Vesudevan Schultz, & Bateman, 2010). However, the limited and restrictive usage of text-based literacy inhibits outside knowledge and agency of intrinsic motivation. 

Online classrooms utilizing multimedia have the affordance of centrifuging from on-site text-based literacy. The inclusion of instruction video and coordinating multimedia artifacts opens opportunities to connect neuronal commitments with new information. Outside knowledge enters the online environment through the multisensory visual and auditory media. Choi & Johnson (2009) discuss how multimedia creates an engaging opportunity for constructivism context-based learning. There can be instructional approaches that tap into socio-cultural motivators. However, there is limited qualitative research on how students from various backgrounds experience temporal variations of multimedia components. 

The gap in research can be attributed to the lack of assessment because of historical reliance on reading and writing literacies. Most research on multimedia artifacts is on cognitive load reduction and user experience design research. Mayer’s (2001) build multimedia design principles for how to increase cognitive residue. Hibbert (2017) builds on Mayers’ principles and contributes qualitative context for what learners experienced while engaging with instructional video. Hibbert conducted survey and interview analysis to measure how students interacted with instructional video artifacts. Her findings concluded that learners blend all multimedia experiences together; however, invaluable insight on video was gleaned in the finding of gesture and branding modalities increased trustworthiness. Videos with confident ‘in-group’ speakers, such as the professors or industry professionals, influenced the credibility of the component materials.

Currently, there is a lack of assessment helping determine the best multimedia artifact instructional design. A commonly utilized assessment in online education is data analytics quantifying performance. LMS have the affordance of measuring and reporting the activity of the learners. For example, clicks/selects on links, test scores, and watch time of videos. In some cases, interoperability tools can integrate AI to ensure credibility of student activity. Honorlock software utilizes a computer camera to watch online test takers. The problem with analytics and AI is that it doesn’t reveal the experience of the learner. 

Quantitative research has shed positive light multimedia design. Watch analytics provides evidence that learner’s attention span dissipates after 6 minutes. Looking at patterns in the data is helpful for determining types of video to utilize; for example, long lecture capture may not be the best video type choice if an engagement target is part of the learning goal (Guo, Kim, & Rubin, 2014; Schwartz & Hartman, 2005). These findings can help with media selection and design for instructional designers. Brame (2015) offers an alternative perspective that quanitated watch time doesn’t mean motivated and engaged viewing. The watcher can be passive and may require anchored-based instruction contextualization of the content. The link to future learning activities could elicit active viewing motivation. The student’s follow-up anchored activity could provide quantified LMS score data and patterns. Lockyer et al. (2013) refers to measuring learners activity as a “digital footprint”. The activity provides an opportunity to engage in formative feedback. This data collected from the LMS report will display the learner usage of component materials and performance of each completed task (or not). As Brame (2015) asserts, “If students don’t watch the videos, they can’t learn from them.” (para. 11). Students not selecting instructional videos needed for anchored-based instructional will be known to educators. Horn (2019) argues for more understanding on what multimedia design choices increase engagement and motivation. Horn discusses how Strayer University sought the assistance from film makers for their instructional videos. The inclusion of professional entertainment enterprise showed a 10 percent fewer drop rate of the online courses and a 85% increase in fully watched video. The increase in percentage can arguably be attributed to motivation through exciting multimodal usage. This aligns with Choi & Johnson (2009) argument that engaging video creates active viewers who can apply gleaned knowledge to future learning.

On the other hand, qualitative research explores what makes video engaging beyond a quantified retention and classroom digital footprint activity. Sung, Huang, Shen, Cherng, Lin, & Wang (2017) discuss temporal variation analysis of learner’s experiences while watching online video. The study utilized a timestamped log to allow students to comment. The researchers coded the language for clustering data to understand learner’s experiences with the content. Adding qualitative measurements will help contextualize the status and experiences with multimedia components materials. Hibbert (2015) argues that quantified measurements don’t reveal what has been learned with multimedia inclusion. Understanding the “what” part is important for instructional designer’s approaches to activities. Sung et al.’s (2017) research is a blend of qualitative and quantitative research for examining video experiences; however, their study lacks knowledge on how the multimedia contributes to constructivism and future learning; for example, would students continue to need multimedia’s multimodal representation to transfer and make sense of future activities. How did instructional approaches with multimedia, such as anchored-based, differ amongst socio-cultural motivators for students? These are knowledge gap questions that can be useful for future researchers building on existing concepts.

Problem Statement

This analytical thesis keenly examines learner motivation processes in online higher education. The goal is to find instructional solutions that best promote online learner motivation through instructional approaches utilizing engaging video artifacts (Schwartz & Hartman, 2007). The research questions guiding the trajectory of findings design solutions for this knowledge gap problem:  

  • How can instructional designers think about instructional approaches that promote motivation through instructional multimedia components?  
  • How can instructional designers assess motivation through integrating instructional video: 
    • What student’s experience as they interact with video artifacts.
    • How measuring student’s performance shifts as they interact with video artifacts.
  • How can instructional video design choices influence socio-cultural motivation.

Constructs of Motivation

Instructional designer’s lack of knowledge on how to contextualize socio-cultural instructional multimedia components materials can be unmotivating to learners. The nature of learning is motivated by context, which cannot be avoided or separated from the learner. Context contains the formula for how to construct designs with greater learning potential. Hoadley (2018) argues that “learning is a product of context” (p. 13). If we breakdown context, it will contain unique socio-cultural and prior neuronal commitment clues that surround target learners (Tessmer & Richey; Dewey, 1938/1997). Motivation is a phenomenon existing as a social construction. Analyzing what social milieus experiences can help shed light onto what learning theories and tools to utilize for instruction.

Instructional design choices utilize contextual clues for selection and design meaningful learning instruction and multimedia components. For example, motivation differs among cultures valuing personal choice and “in group” credibility. The context of who makes the decisions is important when designing for motivation. East-Asian culture is about promoting harmony of the collective. Anglo-Western culture is individualistic and motivated by choice (Iyengar & Lepper). 

Online learning has its own set of educational threats and opportunities compared to on-site learning. These two formats of educational environments (sometimes varying degrees of hybrid) cannot be viewed as the same. Online students can easily become unmotivated in learning because of impersonal sequencing of start, middle, and closure of course interactions (Howell, 2015). Asynchronous courses could entirely lack visuals and sounds of educators and peers, which resulting in restrictive social connections. The lack of communication beyond text modality would restrict outside knowledge sharing. Online courses with no multimedia content can be disengaging and isolating (Vasudevan et al., 2010). Online environments can greatly benefit from embracing constructivism learning drawing on socio-cultural motivators. Adult learners offer invaluable prior experiences and knowledge to share and connect with through multiple modal channels. Adult learners have higher visual intelligence and are better at visual decoding, thus video can work exceptionally well for this audience (Smith and Ragan, 2015). Anchored-based instructional with multisensory video could invite multiple ways to engage and problem solve.

The world communicates daily with multiple modes via our mobile digital tools mediating our socio-cultural connections. McLuhan (1967) argues “Societies have always been more shaped by the nature of the media by which men [and all genders] communicate than by the content of the communication” (p. 8). Online courses that invite the usage of our medium’s full modes of communication will create a motivating environment. The students will be able to draw on the ways they communicate.

Developing the knowledge on how to elicit learner’s motivation is exuberantly helpful for instructional design. Intrinsic motivation is possible under course design conditions that simultaneously engage and allow constructivism freedom. Deterding et al. (2001) explores how agency has been utilized in educational gamification. Gaming is the ultimate interactive and user controlled medium. Learners have an opportunity to set goals, make choices, and experience consequences. Domagk, Schwartz, & Plass (2010) argue that interactivity requires a reciprocal relationship with a student to elicit emotions and motivation. A game is the ultimate reciprocal experience because it has to respond to student’s actions in order for progress to happen. For example, games provide “control over representation”, which is the ability to manipulate angle, speed, and control. However, games still have controls and parameters to implicitly shape the user’s do, see, say, and engage activities. Games can still control behavior with parameters that might not unmotivated East-Asian learners (Barab et al., 2005). Instructional video practices can borrow from gamification and allow leverage for some agency, while designing implicit parameters to elicit intrinsic motivation. 

Video practices that acknowledge the power and inevitable nature of agency will arguably adopt a constructivist design approach. The approach is useful for determining how socio-cultural context influences motivation. Choi & Johnson (2009) argue that knowledge is sociocultural based and cannot be transplanted from educator to student. This is similar to Vgotsky (1978) who thought learning is rooted in socio-cultural context, such as shared beliefs, symbols, and relationship, and knowledge. Knowledge is a slow progress that requires experiences to make neuronal commitments assisting with meaning making fueled by motivation. Sherer & Shea (2011) mention how blending instructional video and discussion boards can be effective anchored-based video instruction. The video provides freedom to make multisensory sense connections and share experience through discussion. However, Sung et al. (2017) takes the idea further and suggest doing multiple temporal variations of comment timestamps from students on videos.

The content within an instructional video content must be decided on through an the established learner profile. The profile must contain socio-cultural and prior experiences knowledge of the target learners. The foundational social and cultural features of the learners will help with producing artifacts in meaningful ways. For example, presenters on video can reflect “in-group” professors or industry professionals. Also, a speaker could reflect the demographic of students, such as a female presenter for the all female Barnard College (Hibbert, 2015). Schwartz & Hartmann (2005) argue that contextualized video materials can help with active and future learning. Students actively motivated watch content and have greater chances of performing better on future learning assessment activities (Choi & Johnson, 2009). The viewers of the video can utilize neuronal connections from previous neuronal commitments.

Instructional video striving for socio-cultural motivation must embrace some level engagement for active viewing. Video content that doesn’t acknowledge the “blurring” of surrounding technology and adult learner motivations are ignoring the idiosyncrasies of this learning population (Hibbert, 2015). Video artifacts don’t need to be presented in isolation and can interconnect with anchored-based activities. These factors have engagement design implications beyond only following adoption of socio-cultural factors. Horn (2019) discussed how Strayer University enlisted the help of Hollywood filmmakers for their videos. The goal sought to increase motivation and elicit emotions from the viewers. Filmmakers are experts in utilizing socio-cultural contexts that utilize experiences of the viewers to connect with a story (Hibbert, 2015). This can be one effective strategy to integrate engaging story motivators in instructional video.

In addition, Strayer enlisted the help of filmmakers because of high drop rates in their online courses. Horn (2019) argues that the reason for student dropping centered on poor multimedia inclusion, busy adult learners, and overall boring student experience. Vesuvevan et al. (2010) also argued that traditional course content can be dull and boring. Horn’s research focused on online MOOC courses. There is significant motivation differences between MOOCs and official online matriculated courses. For example, MOOCS are low stakes and doesn’t always require finishing. In some cases, MOOCs can later be accredited if accepted into its issuing institution, such as Columbia Video Network upon acceptance. The two online courses types are different, however instructional video in higher education can borrow successful engagement practices from the MOOC world. For example, Strayer University’s MOOCs experienced a 10% reduction in their dropoff rate with filmmaking story inclusion. The quantifiable findings demonstrates the power of utilizing engaging storytelling for video content.

The measurement of decreased dropoff rates can be one assessment component around the best instructional video practices. Horn (2019) argues that the online course before filmmakers was considered boring by learners. This means that passive viewing and unengaging multimedia content existed. Strayer University’s positive filmmaking storytelling provides useful information for media design. The analytic data of fewer dropoff rates can be incorporated into future media select and design plans. 

There are additional contextual design implications regarding motivation. Hibbert (2015) argues that motivation can be induced through contextual features based on expectations. Learners expect video content to include branding, presenters, humor, and quality of video. The branding inclusion is useful for establishing credibility of the content. An institution utilizing their branding is communicating the meaning of trustworthiness through their usage of an emblem symbol. The symbol elicits motivation to believe the multimodal artifact. The presenter or voice of the video should be tailored to reflect the learners. For example, specific higher education fields may respond better to credible and well-known professionals known in their industry; also, speakers confidently gesturing and sounding similar to the demographic’s vernacular will be relatable and more realistic. Humor is considered a motivator because it establishes a human connection. For example, a professor utilizing a joke about the industry can align with the Mayer’s (2001) informal principle. Lastly, the quality of the video is important because students have tuition costs and expect a polished product. Hibbert compares the quality contextual feature as a “consumer” and learner hybrid expectation. These three features are crucial contextual motivators to consider for media selection and design. 

In addition, the physical location of students during viewing of videos can greatly impact motivation. Jonassen et. al (2011) argues that the Digital Age has evolved into the Mobile Age. The way that learners produce and consume knowledge is mediated through mobile digital technology devices. The movement factor has implications for designers. Hibbert (2015) argues that adult learners in higher education may have many additional time demands in their lives. The context of an adult learner is not the same as a k-12 student. Adults can have jobs, families, and restrictive access to quiet spaces. This learning audience might respond better to multimedia artifacts designed their contexts. For example, shorter length video, direction to take notes and mention of it relating to an anchor-based assignment (Guo et al. 2014). Also, if students are on break at work or commuting home on public transit, then these design choices can help with actively watching. 

Motivation is a culmination of underlying features that can be measured in relation to specific contexts. The features that create motivation can be considered through the Attention, Relevancy, Confidence, and Satisfaction (ARCS) framework. This framework can be utilized to test if content elicits motivation. Choi & Johnson (2009) conducted an experiment on online learners utilizing text-based and video-based materials. The study assessed the learners through tests and survey analysis. The results highlighted advantages of video delivery over text primarily in the Attention component of ARCS. It was mentioned that a small, but noticeable higher mean of student’s satisfaction was recorded. This findings aligns with Schwartz & Hartman (2005) who argued video was superb at capturing learning engagement. The relevance and confidence features remained unchanged. However, a limitation with that study is video-based multimedia didn’t include a constructivism instruction approach inviting socio-cultural motivators.



Future research studies can explore deeper insights into socio-cultural experiences of online learners. However, currently the best instructional approach for online instructional video integration to elicit motivation is constructivism anchored-based video instruction. This approach supports the many needs and requirements of andragogy. The constructivism anchored-based video invites problem solving that draws upon existing knowledge and experience. Andragogy strongly suggests that instructional allot room for integrating prior experiences. Conaway & Zorn-Arnold (2015) argue that adult learners live in the “right now” and self-directed learner-centered instruction suits this population, such as constructivism. The activity will require a discussion board answering questions from the context-based video. Instructional video artifact’s multimodal characteristics invites easier neuronal connection to the multisensory content representation. Adult learners have higher visual intelligence and are better at visual decoding (Smith and Ragan, 2015). A corresponding discussion board with questions to answer can reveal student’s thoughts and experiences. Also, process analytics on LMS can show student activity and scores across the year for formative feedback. 

In addition, the anchor-based instructional needs strong multimedia design principles. Mayer’s (2001) Twelve Principles for multimedia content creation is helpful for reducing cognitive load. For example, the multimedia principles argue that a combination spoken word and image is better for learning than only spoken word. Videos with conflicting modalities can reduce the artifacts efficacy; for example, cognitive load reduces memory retention with less opportunity for neuronal commitment for future learning (Brame, 2015). 

Brame (2015) explores the theory of cognitive load on  memory. Brame explores the learning science behind types of memory retention in relation to education. She discusses the various stages of memory, such as sensory, working, and long-term. In order to reach long-term memory there must be careful attention to solid design of learning experience. Brame places memory into three categories. Intrinsic load is making connections through conditional relationships (everchanging). This is similar to constructivism because it considers the learner’s prior experiences and connects to the world around them. Brame recommends focusing on intrinsic load is how to improve a lesson for “better” learning. This reiterates the significance of following Mayer’s multimedia principles.

Hibbert (2015) expands on Mayers’ principles and argues how multimedia artifacts and the Mobile Age influences meaning making. Hibbert’s concept of “blurred experiences” sheds light on how each multimedia artifact holistically influences learner experience. The multimedia that instructional video is nestled around impacts the senses and meaning making. The media player and user experience layout of websites/LMS can distract from content. Also, the multimodal features of video communicate trustworthiness.  For example, visual institutional branding, production quality, and learner familiarity with video speaker’s credentials. Learners are also watching multimedia content in various physical locations with mobile devices. These visuals and mobile contexts have significant video implication for establishing active viewers 

Instructional video with the goal of engagement will require specific design parameters. Guo et al. (2014) discusses analytic research on learner attention span. The findings revealed that instructional videos exceeding 6 minutes had fewer watch through data. This means that it might be best to segment videos if the content exceeds 6 minutes. Also, Horn (2019) discussed findings on how integrating story into video decreased online course drop rate. Stories increased engagement and alleviated dull and boring attitudes toward instruction. Schwartz & Hartman (2005) argue that video is an innately engaging multimedia artifact. However, research has shown that engagement factors still need to be considered when designing multimedia.

Overall, instructional designers must consider the construct of motivation in online higher education. The online education field is expanding and deserves conclusive research on best instructional approaches supported with learning theory. Right now, the ADDIE design process can fit aspects of engaging multimedia component materials into their media design plans to match overall goals. Online education is utilizing digital multimodal tools to connect the teachers and peers. Utilizing multimedia opens the class for constructivism ways to connect knowledge and identity. Instructional designers with this knowledge can better steer away from controlling assessment with behaviorism and cognitivism learning. Anchored-based video instruction can call upon learners’ senses and motivators to problem solve, while also inviting multimodes besides only reading and writing literacies. Daily communication has evolved into multimodal information learned through connectivism. Adult learners can flourish in student-centered constructivist instruction that is context-based and invites outside knowledge. Group anchored activities also have the benefit of peer connection and formative feedback from educators. This thesis does not argue for the usage of instructional video, but instead purposeful consideration.

Future Research

A knowledge gap in online video socio-cultural motivation currently exists. A qualitative exploratory research design utilizing ethnography could research this area of focus. A purposeful sample of diverse online higher education students could provide the research site and participates. Observing and interviewing experiences in the socially situated anchored-based video instruction with constructivism learning theory could provide data. An actively participating primary instrument researcher in the class could gauge the social nature and experiences.

The anchor-based instruction utilizes video and coordinating discussion board questions to increase the connectivism of perspectives. The data collection methods would focus on indicative thematic data looking for themes related to motivation differing among socio-cultural backgrounds in constructivism led multimedia instruction. What socio-cultural perspectives were driven by constructivism in the online classrooms drive motivation to learn. What did multimodal instructional multimedia tools do for the learners. What motivational changes happened with constructivism instruction and assessment. 

The findings could help build concepts around the construct of motivation in online environments. Instructional video is embedded in all surrounding multimedia. Exploring the experiences around video would require including mention of all multimedia in a study. The goal would be to help establish clearer information on what multimedia helps with learning and assessing of overall goals. This knowledge could help instructional designers and educators develop purposefully learning instruction beyond reading and writing literacies. Also, constructivism could change the way experience and performance is assessed beyond analytics. 


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