Six minute video
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Design Pattern: Six Minute Video

Maintain student attention when delivering content by keeping video material down to six minute chunks.


You are aware that creating a full length video of your lecture for online delivery is too demanding, from both a teaching and a student learning perspective. You cannot maintain your enthusiasm and passion for a full hour video and you know that student attendtion will drop dramatically at various points across a long single recording. Threfore you need to create smaller discrete episodes that you can feel confident will be watched in their entirety by your learners.


This pattern relates to the production of online teaching material that is delivered in video format. This means any leacture capture style teaching resource that students are expected to follow to gain subject knowledge i.e. disciplinary content and/or particular threshold concepts.



Organise your video lecture material into sensible six minute chunks. You can then be confident the student attention will be kept until the end of the video. If available check this using the anlytics within your delivery platform.



'How Video Production Affects Student Engagement: An Empirical Study of MOOC Videos' - available for download at 

Recommendation 1: (of seven total recommendations): Instructors should segment videos into short chunks, ideally less than 6 minutes.



Data and References

Research at the University of Rochester (Guo, P., 2013) established that the optimal length for online videos is six minutes or less.  The author notes: “The optimal video length is 6 minutes or shorter -- students watched most of the way through these short videos. In fact, the average engagement time of any video maxes out at 6 minutes, regardless of its length. And engagement times decrease as videos lengthen: For instance, on average students spent around 3 minutes on videos that are longer than 12 minutes, which means that they engaged with less than a quarter of the content….The take-home message for instructors is that, to maximize student engagement, they should work with instructional designers and video producers to break up their lectures into small, bite-sized pieces.”

Guo, P. (2013, October 29). Optimal Video Length for Student Engagement.  Retrieved from

Kim, J.; Guo, P. J.; Seaton, D. T.; Mitros, P.; Gajos, K. Z. & Miller, R. C. (2014), Understanding in-video dropouts and interaction peaks inonline lecture videos, in 'Proceedings of the first ACM conference on Learning@ scale conference' , pp. 31-40 .

Guo, P. J.; Kim, J. & Rubin, R. (2014), How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of mooc videos, in 'Proceedings of the first ACM conference on Learning@ scale conference' , pp. 41-50 .


TED talks - 18 minute rule
Chris Anderson explained the organization’s thinking this way:
"It [18 minutes] is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online. It’s the length of a coffee break. So, you watch a great talk, and forward the link to two or three people. It can go viral, very easily. The 18-minute length also works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline."

And ...

Attention span in the classroom: first spike of inattention at 10 to 18 minutes. 




Author(s): Yishay Mor, Steven Warburton
Published at: 27 Feb 2015 10:09 GMT
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