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When it comes to asynchronous online learning, the literature recommends multimedia content like videos of lectures and demonstrations. However, the lack of emotional connection and the absence of teacher support in these video materials can be detrimental to student success. We proposed incorporating talking heads and annotations to alleviate these weaknesses. In this study, we investigated the cognitive and affective effects of integrating these solutions in asynchronous video lectures. Guided by the theoretical lens of Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning and Cognitive-Affective Theory of Learning with Media, we produced a total of 72 videos (average = four videos per subtopic) with a mean duration of 258 seconds (range = 193 to 318 seconds). To comparatively assess our video treatments (i.e., regular videos, videos with face, videos with annotation, or videos with face and annotation), we conducted an educational-based cluster randomized controlled trial within a 14-week academic period with four cohorts of students enrolled in an introductory web design and development course. We recorded a total of 42,425 total page views (212.13 page views per student) for all web browsing activities within the online learning platform. Moreover, 39.92% (16,935 views) of these page views were attributed to the video pages accumulating a total of 47,665 minutes of watch time. Our findings suggest that combining talking heads and annotations in asynchronous video lectures yielded the highest learning performance, longest watch time, and highest satisfaction, engagement, and attitude scores. These discoveries have significant implications for designing video lectures for online education to support students’ activities and engagement. Therefore, we concluded that academic institutions, curriculum developers, instructional designers, and educators should consider these findings before relocating face-to-face courses to online learning systems to maximize the benefits of video-based learning.
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