When Educating About Insects, Instructional Video Can Help
By Josh Lancette
What’s the best way to teach a farmer about pest control?
While that could be a setup to a good (or bad?) joke, it’s actually a real and important question that educators think about. How do we get the best information on pest control into the hands of people who need it most in a way that they will remember and apply?
To help answer that question, a team from the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center decided to do an experiment where they tested the effectiveness of a short video (6 minutes) versus a longer pre-recorded PowerPoint presentation (19 minutes) on helping participants identify sugarcane aphid (Melanaphis sacchari) and estimate its population densities. Their results are published in a new article in the open-access Journal of Integrated Pest Management.
The researchers—Jason Thomas, Robert Bowling, Ph.D., and Michael Brewer, Ph.D.—found that participants viewing instructional videos “scored similar to those exposed to the slideshow videos for aphid identification.”
They also found that participants viewing the instructional video “performed significantly better at estimating sugarcane aphid populations after training,” while participants who viewed the slideshow presentation “showed no significant improvement at estimating aphid densities when compared with pre-training assessments.”
In other words, the study found that the short video was at least as effective as the longer slideshow, if not more effective.
However, the researchers don’t envision videos replacing in-person education sessions.
“We do not suggest that video presentations and storage of them online can replace face-to-face question-and-answer periods with [pest control] managers,” they write. “Concise instructional videos like those created in this study may prove beneficial to extension workshops by providing audience members more time to ask relevant questions and be active learners. This extra time for discussion will allow extension educators to learn more about their audience, increase learner engagement, and address regional issues that may not be relevant to learners of other regions.”
They do envision videos being archived online as a way to increase on-demand access to learning materials, though.
“Archived videos and other digital materials allow learners to refresh their memory of important principles as needed,” the researchers write. “Importantly, these materials can be used in moments when management decisions are made, allowing them to apply principles in the very moment they are needed.”
Journal of Integrated Pest Management
Josh Lancette is manager of publications at the Entomological Society of America.
A 19-minute recorded PowerPoint presentation on techniques to identify the sugarcane aphid is used in IPM training sessions for growers conducted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center.