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 and Bull, 2010; Cajar-Bravo, 2010; Clothier, 2013; Franzoni, Ceballos, and 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. Retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertations. (UMI No. 3424310). Retrieved from

Clothier, P. (2013, October 28). Interactive video: The next big thing in mobile. Learning solutions magazine. Retrieved from

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. Retrieved from


Matthew Dodd (2014). Use branching videos to engage students. In Chen, B., deNoyelles, A., & Thompson, K. (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning. Retrieved July 11, 2020 from

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