Use Branching Videos to Engage Students

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Using branching story lines within an interactive decision-making video is an engaging method of enhancing the learning process for digital natives. Each short video segment along the path of the branching story line presents the viewer with a dilemma (decision point) and a subsequent choice of how to proceed. As the viewer makes decisions and proceeds along the story line, s/he creates a unique viewing and learning experience for him/herself. The video provides more behavioral and contextual clues that support skills training, behavior analysis, and meta-analysis. While more interactive forms of video are recommended for more engaging learner experiences (Bell & Bull, 2010; Cajar-Bravo, 2010; Clothier, 2013; Franzoni, Ceballos, & Rubio, 2013; Vural, 2013), but branching videos are a more sophisticated form of interactivity consistent with contemporary media trends (Clothier, 2013).

Link to example artifact(s)

  • Well-produced set of branching videos on YouTube demonstrating a simple but well-planned decision-support process: “Blend Your Own Adventure
  • Simple tutorial for creating branching videos on YouTube, including student-produced examples from high school history students: Choose Your Own Adventure Videos from The History 2.0 Classroom
  • Professionally-produced branching murder mystery film exemplifying the decision/consequence dynamic of this format: “Hunch

Link to scholarly reference(s)

Bell, L., & Bull, G. L. (2010). Teaching with Digital Video : Watch, Analyze, Create. Eugene, Or: International Society for Technology in Education.

Cajar-Bravo, A. (2010, January 1). Expanding learning and teaching processes in an ESL/Civics ABE classroom using an interactive video lesson plan in the U.S. southwest: An action research study.

Clothier, P. (2013, October 28). Interactive video: The next big thing in mobile.

Franzoni, A. L., Ceballos, C. P., & Rubio, E. E. (2013). Interactive video enhanced learning-teaching process for digital native students. Proceedings from 2013 IEEE 13th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT).

Vural, Ö. (2013). The impact of a question-embedded video-based learning tool on e-learning. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 13(2), 1315-1323.


Dodd, M. (2014). Use branching videos to engage students. In B. Chen & K. Thompson (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

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