Skip to main content


Happy Friday! This week we're focusing on two questions:

  • Text or video: what's best for learners?
  • Does the YouTube comment section have value for learners?

Text or Video: What’s Best?

I hate watching instructional videos. If learning styles were really a thing (and let’s be clear: they’re not), I would have the opposite of the visual learning style. So when I saw the first article I’m featuring this week, I was intrigued. In a study reported in January 2021, researchers investigated the influence of media (text, video, or subtitled video) on students' learning outcomes. In this experiment, learners were randomly assigned to a text, video, or subtitled-video condition, in a pretest, posttest, and delayed posttest design. The findings? Subtitled videos placed additional demands on learning (consistent with Mayer’s Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning, which we’ve discussed in previous issues) and were less effective for deep learning. Overall, though, results from the study confirmed that for immediate retention, there’s no difference between giving learners a video, a block of text, or subtitled videos. (I’m relieved that my hatred of instructional videos won’t hold me back any.) Researchers do caution practitioners, however; “the choice of the modality to use should be based on the specific purpose of the learning content” based on Mayer (Tarchi, Zaccoletti, & Mason, 2021).

This article has three important implications for L&D professionals:

  1. A small amount of digital text can be effective for deep learning.
  2. Videos are preferred by many people and are also positively associated with immediate application of learning tasks.
  3. Subtitled videos are great (especially for non-native speakers of the video’s language) but require extra cognitive effort to process the content.

Key Takeaway: “Practitioners may use either instructional narrated videos or instructional texts to support deep learning processes on a relatively small amount of content, whereas subtitled videos may overload students' cognitive processing,” (Tarchi, Zaccoletti, & Mason, 2021).

Read More ($): Tarchi, C., Zaccoletti, S., & Mason, L. (2021). Learning from text, video, or subtitles: A comparative analysis. Computers & Education, 160.

The Comment Section: A Haven for Trolls or a Learning Opportunity?

Following along with this same video thread, one group of researchers asked, “What’s the value of the comments for a YouTube video?” (Surely it's more than just a place to air your grievances or yell, "First!")

After conducting a content analysis of around 1500 comments on science learning channels on YouTube, Israeli researchers Dubovi & Tabak came to the conclusion that there’s an opportunity for learners to engage in argumentative deliberation in the comment section, thereby deepening their understanding of a topic. This informal space, they suggest, can serve as a forum for collaborative interactions that support informal and nonformal learning. So, what does this mean for workplace learning and customer education? These findings support the idea that collaborative knowledge construction is possible and would encourage the enablement of comments on organizational learning content.

Key Takeaway: Uploading a video to YouTube? Creating content to share in an LMS? In either case, enable those comments! This can be a valuable way for your learners to co-create knowledge.

Read More ($): Dubovi, I. & Tabak, I. (2020). An empirical analysis of knowledge co-construction in YouTube comments. Computers & Education, 156.

Pets of Learning Science Weekly

Thanks to all of the readers who sent in their pet pics! This week we're featuring the adorable furry creatures submitted by Andrea M., who says, "I really enjoy reading your emails and listening to the podcasts! I love seeing other people's pets photos in the weekly email, so I thought I would share my fur babies. My husband and I have three adopted pets; the two cats, Darla and Gob (dark grey cat, named after the Arrested Development character), and the dog is Beau, a Rottweiler/German Shepherd/Lab mix." Thank you for sharing, Andrea!!


Would you like to contribute to the cuteness index of my inbox? Send me (hi, I'm Julia) your pet pics at

Wondering why we’re including animal photos in a learning science newsletter? It may seem weird, we admit. But we’re banking on the baby schema effect and the “power of Kawaii.” So, send us your cute pet pics -- you’re helping us all learn better!

The LSW Crew

Learning Science Weekly is written and edited by Julia Huprich, Ph.D. Our head of growth and community is Julieta Cygiel.

Have something to share? Want to see something in next week's issue? Send your suggestions: