I was recently featured in an article in In Business magazine that highlights “The Online Video Phenomenon” and talks about the upsurge of online video marketing.  Why is it so popular?  Well, as stressed in the article, online video marketing is popular because it allows a story to be taken around the world, it “brings a much higher level of engagement” and because “Human beings are visual by nature”.  While reflecting on this trend myself, I added that social media platforms and the Internet allow people to no longer be “confined to a local television market” Witness this year’s presidential election and the rapid Internet release of videos by the candidates.  The ability to evoke emotion with music and imagery and editing is very strong.  That has always been the case with motion pictures delivered via TV and DVD but now the delivery channel is so much more vibrant, with so many more features and abilities, that its day has come.

I have long been a believer in motion picture when the goal is driving a purchase decision, changing hearts or changing minds, or simply embedding knowledge or procedures.  My eLearning company, Web Courseworks, Ltd., actually was begun as an eLearning division of Madison Productions Incorporated, a privately held Wisconsin corporation with over thirty years of experience in successfully producing eMedia, motion pictures, Flash animation and audio enhancements.  To this day, the re-named Madison Media Productions is still the video production division of Web Courseworks.

What does all this have to do with effective eLearning?  Well, when considering the new video trend in marketing I was thinking about how videos not only enhance marketing strategies, but also have the ability to drastically improve eLearning courses (when used correctly).  This began my search for the most helpful tips of effective eLearning video.  This list, created by Saffron Interactive of London, England, demonstrates well-put together tips for including video in eLearning modules.


How to…Use video effectively in e-learning

Videos can be a great addition to e-learning packages-but only if they’re used in the right way.  Here are Saffron’s top ten tips for making sure videos are adding value to your e-learning rather than just adding megabytes to your course.

1.  Keep videos short and to the point: Unless you’re making the video interactive, keep it short and focused so your learner doesn’t switch off.  This is especially true for monologues given by company executives: keep the learner engaged by keeping it short and sweet.

2.  Use videos for emphasis:  Don’t overuse video.  Always ask yourself ‘is this the best way to illustrate the learning?’ Video can be more memorable than text so use it for emphasizing and reinforcing key learning points.

3.  Make videos interactive:  If you’re considering including a longer video then make it interactive, for example by pausing it intermittently to ask the learner questions.  This keeps them involved and focuses their attention on the learning points you want to emphasize.

4.  Follow up with questions or a summary:  If you don’t make the video interactive in any way then make sure you follow it up with a brief summary of the key points covered.  This should help to prevent any key learning points slipping through the net.

5.  Use videos to demonstrate how to, or how not to, do something:  A video can be a great way of illustrating how not to do something and then getting the learners to spot the mistakes.  Depending on time, you can then follow up by showing them the correct way of completing the task.

6.  Use actors not real employees:  Your video will only be as good as the people in it and employees may be nervous or forget their lines.  Use professional actors but make sure you send scripts through in advance, giving clear instructions on character and costume.

7.  Be creative:  Think about how television programs are filmed and consider whether you can mimic their style.  For example, try using different camera angles to break up long speeches or reinforcing key points by having text appear on screen.

8.  Include a transcript:  Providing a transcript makes a video accessible to everyone, such as learners with hearing difficulties or those without headphones or sound cards.  It also enables learners to refer back to the content without watching it again.

9.  Be technically clever:  Compress video files as much as possible to avoid learner frustration whilst waiting for them to load.  Consider creating a low bandwidth version for slower internet connections, perhaps using photos rather than video, or lower quality video.

10.  Make videos downloadable elsewhere:  Get the most out of your video by including it as a downloadable resource, either in the course or from an intranet site.  That way, the learner can refresh their memory of the key learning points without completing the whole course again.


Adding a few of my own:

11. Use video in branching scenarios: Use a simple Sim Builder to require the learner to watch a video and make a choice.  Based on the learner’s choices a different set of video or video paths appear.

 12. Use Hot Spots:  Have a learner watch a video to identify critical concepts.  Each hot spot is a link to more information on this critical subject such as safety in the workplace or fire hazards.

13. Consider the “Kahn Way”: The Khan Academy has become all the rage because of the way it organizes and indexes subjects as short video lectures.  Finding a talent or teacher that can pull this off is half the battle.  Adding good supporting text or examples is the other.

14. Incorporate the Cut Scene:  Video games use short videos called “cut scenes” to establish context and/or further a story line.  These videos are interspersed within the game play and very short.

15. Demonstrate executive commitment:  Record a short executive introduction to the eLearning course to demonstrate executive commitment to the learning objectives.

Managing eLearning is written by the Blog team at Web Courseworks which includes Jon Aleckson and Jillian Bichanich.  Ideas and concepts are originated and final copy reviewed by Jon Aleckson.