Video Killed the Online Text Star: Knowing when Video Can Add to the Millennial and Gen Z Online Experience, and When It Can’t

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Video content, while still essential for achieving appropriate student outcomes, must be selected, designed and utilized in ways that are appropriate for our student base. This session focuses on the uniqueness of Millennial and Gen Z students, and course design philosophies for using and creating video resources for successful outcomes.


Former faculty member in communication and college administrator. Currently applying those skills in the teaching and learning discipline of online learning.
A former high school teacher for ten years, Cory began serving Rasmussen College in 2009, first as an IT Support Specialist and eventually transitioning to the Course Development team in 2012. Specializing in the management, maintenance, revision and improvement of existing online courses, Cory became the Senior Manager of eLearning in the spring of 2016, responsible for the management, growth and advancement of the Manager of eLearning roles, as well as the continued development, innovation and advancement of the course design and development process. Cory holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Instructional Technology from St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, PA, a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Education from Concordia University, Seward, NE, and an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Information Systems Management from Rasmussen College. Cory and his wife, Sara, have two boys, Judah and August, and reside in Chaska, Minnesota.

Extended Abstract

In this session, we will explore the unique learning styles of today’s Millennial and Gen Z learners, specifically, how each generation interacts, processes and responds to video.  Using that information, we will also present on course design philosophies and best practices for creating video resources within online courses that are effective for these unique generational learners.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when we think about developing video resources in our courses?  Is it the constraints of finding appropriate material for both our Millennial and Gen Z learner?  Is the main challenge producing original video due to time constraints and cost? Perhaps, many of today’s course designers are not familiar with the best-practices for adding video to courses that will prove effective for these specific generational learners.  We don’t have all the answers, but we do have strong evidence that gives us clues to the type, length, and visual appeal that must be considered when producing and adding video resources to our courses.

In a 2018 study, Pearson Publishing found that across all major social media platforms, Millennials interact Facebook more than any other platform, while for Gen Z learners, YouTube is most prominently used.  The study further found that while Millennial learners still value text-based materials overall, Gen Z learners overwhelmingly prefer YouTube and other video-based content as their main learning modality. This data provides some very unique challenges, as well as opportunities, for how we design and implement video resources in our courses.

Furthermore, video learning takes place in all types of environments (i.e. classroom learning, or professional workplace training) as well as for all audiences.  Video training for non-Millennials and non-Gen Z learners can take different feel, but there are going to be some consistent elements identified through best practices.  In this session, we’ll do a compare and contrast analysis so we can see the video consumption needs involved and where trends lie today.  Inevitably, while Gen Z and Millennial audiences have some unique aspects, there are some video elements that will always be effective, regardless of the learner.

Five years ago, researches at MIT CSAIL and edX produced one of the largest studies on video engagement to date (2014).  In that study, researches not only uncovered base data on the types and lengths of video that is most effective for online education, but also generated a series of recommendations that can prove effective for designing and incorporating such materials in our courses.

During the course of our session, we will not only explore these best practices and recommendations for effective video design, we will also share how we have put these into practice via the creation of original video content through our educational partner, Collegis Education, for use in Rasmussen College’s online suite of Competency Based Education courses.


Guo, P. J., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014, March). 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). ACM.

Pearson Publishing (2018, August) Beyond Millennials: The Next Generation of Learners. Global Research & Insights.