Video: An interesting addition or an alternative to an e-learning course?

December 3, 2019 Aneta Stokes

You want to copy data and apps from your old phone to a new one. You’re not sure how to do it but you’ve found a dedicated course, PDF instructions, and a video tutorial. Which one do you prefer?

You’ve witnessed an accident and you want to finally learn how to do CPR. Where do you look for tips? In an article, a PowerPoint presentation, or a video showing how to give first aid?

In a team you manage, there are constant conflicts that you can’t resolve. A colleague sends you two tools: a fifteen-minute interview with an experienced manager about his ways of dealing with team conflicts, and a two-hour online training course starting with the module “Conflict – Definition, Types, and Historical-psychological Background.” Which one do you turn to?

Videos are powerful

Videos are still treated as an optional addition to training; a flashy element stuck to the beginning or the end of a sequence of slides, which — one assumes — will surely explain everything better and in more detail. Unlike on LMS, where video is rare, YouTube tutorials are most common choice when looking for hints in solving a specific problem. Maybe it’s worth following users’ natural behavior and delivering the content they need in the form they find most digestible?

It doesn’t need to be a blockbuster

Here, the fear of budgeting immediately raises its head: Slides with text and graphics are one thing, but a movie? Camera, lights, actors, makeup: The whole thing seems to be a very expensive undertaking, and the training departments don’t have the budgets of Hollywood producers.

Yes: In the case of a subject that is important to the organization, you can invest in a well-made film that will cost more than a traditional training course. If the benefits are worth the investment, then it’s also worth considering it. A video as part of the onboarding package presenting the company, with employee statements and showing the interior of the buildings, can make a good impression on new employees for years to come. Scenes of actors demonstrating compliance principles using specific examples can support employees in their daily work over many years, and do so far more effectively than comics or multi-click slides.

But a training video can also take a much simpler and less expensive form, perfectly fitting into the objectives of microlearning. Maybe instead of another training course, it’s better to do an interview with an expert or record short clips with one of the managers containing the essence of what you planned to spread over multiple modules? Maybe it’s a good idea to encourage employees to record a tutorial or a video guide on a certain topic using their phones, as part of a competition to summarize the training, for example? Maybe it’s worth using a recording in the training strategy — of a conference, a traditional training course, or a meeting where certain things have been explained in a way that the narrator cannot?

Processes, using the company’s tools, best practices, short instructional videos, dialogs: There are many possibilities and in most cases they can be a really attractive alternative to typical online courses.

Emotions, history, realism

According to Alfred Hitchcock, “a good film should start with an earthquake and be followed by rising tension.” In the world of e-learning, we don’t necessarily have to use titles like: “Insurance Sales: Reactivation,” “Tough Customer Attacks II,” or “The Advisor Who Knew Too Much.” This doesn’t mean, however, that when creating a training video — and I’m talking here about the more ambitious form — we can’t reach for sophisticated, high-end tools.

Excitement, joy, fear, tension, anger: When creating a short video that is to make a lasting impression on the user, you should appeal to their emotions, because when they’re present our attention increases. Intense music, pulsing images, intriguing text: We can make these types of videos as trailers announcing or summarizing a new course, product, or even a procedure.

If you want to show difficult situations or solutions to specific problems faced by your employees, and you create movie scripts after a thorough analysis of the users’ needs (remember Action Mapping?), don’t neglect to construct a story and build realistic characters. Just like in a training course, you don’t have to send your characters into space to illustrate a sales talk. In the video, the sales talk should take place where it usually takes place and the characters should be people similar to those who would usually do it. Because only then will your users be able to identify with them.

The range of possibilities is immense. For bigger budgets, let’s consider which topics will be more effectively illustrated by the camera than a storyline. For smaller budgets, even a film with a statement from a single person can be more powerful than yet another sequence of hastily made slides. A cartoon character with a narrator, or an actual expert talking about what he knows best. Which would you rather listen to?

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