Article   August 08 2023

Consuming media is not learning

Video content is king. It’s entertaining and a great way to communicate. But does this mean that we always should use video when creating learning content? The short answer is no: Consuming media is not the same as learning something.

Man viewed from behind watching a screen

Image: (license free)

One of the most important keys to learning is that the preferred method activates your brain in the right way. 

But how do we do that? How do we best create active learning? With video or text? 

When introducing the concept of NanoLearning to new customers, we regularly get the question if it’s possible to use video. And of course, it is. But it’s not something we recommend, and there are several reasons for that. 

Active vs passive learning

Reading is an active process, involving our cognitive resources. When reading a text, our imagination needs to be at the ‘front seat’ too. Watching videos is almost the opposite - it is mostly a passive process. 

Videos (even good ones) simply feed us with the information directly without us having to take active part in interpreting letters and words. It doesn’t put our cognitive senses into use the way reading does. 

For further reading we highly recommend this summary: Reading vs watching videos. What science says.

Learning at your own pace

All humans learn the same way – but at different paces. This is also one of the main arguments for using text instead of video. When reading a text, it allows the learner to decide the pace. With video, it’s basically one size fits all. Reading also allows the learner to go back and forth without having to rewind or fast-forward the content. 

Allowing your learners to learn the same things – but at their own pace – is critical. Especially if you know that you’re targeting an audience with a variation in reading habits. 

Long-lasting learning

One of the overarching goals with NanoLearning is to – step by step – increase awareness and influence behaviors. In order to do that, information needs to be stored in the learners’ long-time memory.

And reading is usually the best method to do that. It allows you to easily re-read a passage or paragraph in a text as many times as you want. It also allows you to quickly scan a piece of information and revise the part you want. These factors make it easier to retain information in your long-term memory.

If you want your targeted audience of learners to really remember things – text is the preferred way of achieving this. 

Per Lagerström
Article   August 08 2023