learning from video vs. a book
January 17, 2006 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Why do I learn better from a videotaped lecture than from reading a book? They both seem to be passive and linear in thought, but somehow I learn better from the video. Why is that?
posted by mrkohrea to Education (12 answers total)
My brother has the same thing. He's just an aural learner -- his retention is much better if he hears information than if he reads it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:08 PM on January 17, 2006

I would guess that you're simply better at recalling things you've heard than things you've read. Perhaps reading out loud to yourself could help your recall.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:09 PM on January 17, 2006

Try reading your text aloud into a voice recorder, then listening to it back. Beats having to find videos for everything you need to learn in this world.
posted by cior at 12:09 PM on January 17, 2006

videotaped or audiotaped? if it's videotaped, perhaps you are recalling better because you are using two of your senses (vision and hearing) instead of only one (reading - vision only)
posted by seawallrunner at 12:19 PM on January 17, 2006

Reading is not passive.
posted by Robot Johnny at 12:34 PM on January 17, 2006

Interesting. I learn much better from reading. I would often skip lectures as an undergraduate for this reason.
posted by driveler at 12:36 PM on January 17, 2006

i like (AudioBooks) books on tape better the books too...

I seem to absorb it better.... plus, when things get technical (nonfiction), i can always rewind. I dont "go pck" pages in a book...
posted by Izzmeister at 12:44 PM on January 17, 2006

Don't we hold onto information better if it's accompanied by a visual cue? I think visualization is a pretty common mnemonic technique.
posted by forallmankind at 12:55 PM on January 17, 2006

Mr. K, how do you feel when you are watching versus reading? Do you feel like different parts of your brain are engaged in the processed? Is your focus different?

For me, retention does not correlate to media type, but it does correlate to my level of focus. Is most of my mind wandering while some small portion recites the words in my head? Or am I actively pulling meaning from the material with all of my attention? (A related point here is that comprehension often increases when people move from slow subvocalized reading to speed reading. Speed reading forces a switch to engagement with ideas and integration of ideas into your existing knowledge, while slow subvocalized reading can just be an internal recitation of words with little engagement.)

Do you play video games much? It could be something simple in the environment that clicks your mind into a more focused mode, and thereby makes your comprehension and retention increase.
posted by alms at 12:57 PM on January 17, 2006

As many have pointed out, each person learns best in his own way -- via seeing, hearing, reading, etc.

But lectures are different from other forms of learning in that they are delivered by a HUMAN. We are social creatures, evolved to respond to social cues. This may be a big factor for you. In other words, the professor's facial expressions, gestures, etc. may be helping you learn, because they're hooking into a primed part of your brain.

On the other hand, I'm a fairly anti-social person. I'm shy and introverted. I learn MUCH better from reading. In a social setting, my brain gets TOO primed. I get so confused by the social cues that I can't pay attention to the content.
posted by grumblebee at 1:13 PM on January 17, 2006

I recently read a good book about different learning styles and how to maximize your learning based on your stlye. It is called How to Learn Anything Quickly. Well worth the $6 for the practical gems inside.
posted by blueyellow at 2:09 PM on January 17, 2006

I do very well with just reading. However I also do very well with listening, provided I am slightly distracted at the same time. Driving while listening is my very favorite way. Housework while listening does well, too (for both the housework and the learning!).

Now in my late 40's, it is possible that I do better with this listening thing myself. As a child, I soaked up what the teacher said while happily doodling or 'playing with stuff on desk' (to quote the teacher's stupid complaint).
posted by Goofyy at 10:32 PM on January 17, 2006

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