Blog reader Paul Colombo of webLearning wrote to let me know this Jakob Nielsen article was recently slashdotted.

Eyetracking data show that users are easily distracted when watching video on websites, especially when the video shows a talking head and is optimized for broadcast rather than online viewing.

That quote is from Jakob Nielsen's post. In email, Paul indicated that he notices business managers often want talking-head video with an executive message in compliance training. Yet, a still picture of the person and supporting text often works best-- clear, less distracting and highly effective.

I certainly agree with Paul on that, given all the typical costs associated with video. However, I think I disagree with the interpretation of the esteemed Mr. Nielsen-- talking head video isn't boring, it is, however, something people are very good at processing and multi-tasking. I actually like having the talking head and being able to access additional information. If I hear something in the voice, I can jump back to look at the face. I think the talking head is particular effective if the content addresses the affective domain. To me at least, such video obviously has a place in learning. However, as Paul implies, a still image can be just as effective as conveying the source and significance of a message for instructional purposes-- and often less distracting and more cost efficient.