When Actors Replace Instructors as On-Camera Talent

The traditional method for creating online lecture videos is for professors (or Subject Matter Experts) to lecture straight to the camera. However, Purdue University decided to use a different technique by using professional actors to give the lectures instead.


(Photo Credit: Campus Technology)

Students gave feedback regarding this approach and said that they enjoyed the videos with the actors more than the videos with SME. The project management team at Purdue also shortened the videos to under seven minutes since research has shown that adult learners stop learning more information after point. The team could not just use any actor to fill in the position of a lecturer; the actor had to speak in a way that wouldn’t distract the students from learning the content.

According to Vickie Maris, former director of professional development programs, it is easier to update courses with this approach because videos can be inserted and removed when needed. If the video does not seem relevant or useful to most students any more, than they can be replaced with another one. Maris also noted that it is important to not date videos by mentioning the date it was filmed or events that are happening at that moment so that it could last longer.

There are pros and cons for using SME vs Professional Actors for these videos.

SME know the topics well enough to not have to read off a teleprompter or script. Thus, students find them more reliable. However, actors never state that they are the instructor in the videos and just go right to the content to avoid the students feeling like they weren’t getting the “real thing.” Actors are also more comfortable in front of the camera and can capture the students’ attention more effectively.

Cost is a factor for both SME and actors. An actor can charge between $891 – $1056 on the first day, but some professors charge an hourly rate that can end up being more expensive than an actor (Schaffhauser)

After a beta course that used both actors and SME in their lecture videos, students stated that they still preferred the actors more. The team is using this feedback to develop new course series and update videos and other content delivery methods.

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Source: http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2015/05/13/When-Actors-Replace-Instructors-as-On-Camera-Talent.aspx?Page=1