Instructional designers are often tasked with using bells and whistles, including video, to make training programs "engaging,” but experienced IDs understand that engagement doesn’t come from simply placing a video into a deliverable. We know that connecting the dots for learners and providing relevant and purposeful content at the right time is truly what enhances engagement.
The use of video isn't a learning panacea, but video can nevertheless be an effective tool when deployed strategically.
Video works well in training programs when it’s part of a larger initiative—as a step along the learner’s journey. It can reinforce learning when it’s used as a designated touchpoint within the training.
Videos can operate as reusable learning objects, small segments of content that can be added to training programs in a plug-and-play fashion. When videos are made available on their own in an accessible way—hosted on the organization’s portal, intranet, social media channel, learning management system, etc.—learners can be directed to them as just-in-time learning adventures. When a learner needs to know specific information or how to do something directly related to an activity they are working to complete, they can access that video right then and complete the task.
Video Can Be Easily Created and Edited
Video used to be an expensive and time-consuming medium; it still can be, of course, but advances in technology and a learning audience that is increasingly forgiving of imperfection means video can now be captured, edited, and enhanced in simple, low-cost ways.
Video needn’t require the full-scale cost of a studio or the high-end equipment. Most instructional designers already have a satisfactory device for capturing video—their smartphone, which can deliever a rawer look and feel to a video segment that eliminates the stuffiness that sometimes accompanies fully staged video. Today's learners are accepting of "amateur" video, given that they see it every day on social media and news outlets.
That said, one of the keys to using video successfully in training deliverables is planning. Instructional designers are wise to use basic storyboarding to put the pieces of the video into place. They help the designer visualize how the video elements will come together—the actors, scenery, actions, etc. When it’s time to actually record footage, realize that retakes are often required, and this is not a bad thing. View initial takes as rehearsals, allowing everyone (actors and the videographer) to get the feel for how things will play out.
When editing the video, as with developing eLearning, use the bells and whistles of your editing software sparingly. Be kind to your audience and act as a purist when editing, minimizing the use of fancy filters, transitions, and animations.
Training That Benefits from Video
Training programs of all shapes and sizes can benefit from the inclusion of video. Below are a few examples of using video in training initiatives.
Video can be used as welcome messaging to help set the stage for the upcoming training. Think of an onboarding program for a global organization. The new associate may need to navigate several layers of the organization just to get acclimated with where she falls within the bigger scope. Video segments can be used in scheduled formats to emphasize a welcoming message. The new associate could encounter a video upon completing designated levels of the onboarding program. Video could highlight senior leadership at various levels, explaining the organization’s vision and culture, and their own department’s vision. Videos could also be of teams, specifically those the new associate will be interacting with and within. These videos don’t need to be lengthy, but can provide the valuable messaging within a short (30 seconds or less) timeframe.
Coaching and Performance Support
Just as with onboarding, video can also be used in a coaching capacity to support globally dispersed workers. Managers and supervisors may find themselves supporting teams across distant borders; video provides those learning teams another layer of connection as they work through a training program that may require additional behavioral support. Not all managers have the luxury of walking down the hall to provide encouragement to their team members, and video can help to bridge that connection gap. Videos can be short messages from managers explaining the value of the training, attention to next steps, or certain aspects that require focus for success. Go a step further by employing a structured video sharing element allowing the manager and employee to share feedback, guidance, and learnings as the learner works through their learning path.
An obvious use of video is for demonstration, to illustrate steps in a process. Job aids are commonly used to provide this step-by-step information, but however valuable that job aid is, it is inherently one-dimensional. A video takes that information and wraps the real-world experience around it. Think of a systematic process involving a large piece of machinery; workers need to understand how their actions and activity will interact with that large machine. When and how that happens, and the idiosyncrasies of that interplay, become more apparent and real when seeing it through a video versus reading a set of steps. The video can be used to prep the learner for how the machine works before walking onto the floor for the first time. That same video could also be used as reinforcement for learners who struggle with how certain steps are executed, and it can be used in assessment—probing learners for the correct response to specific knowledge-check questions.
Try melding video into learning activities. This can go in several directions. One option is to use the video as a static delivery element, providing visual information for the learners (individually or part of a team) to analyze the information and situation, and then respond using learnings acquired. Video use can be dictated by the complexity of the activity at hand, such as with a case study example. The video could possibly set up the problem or issue needing to be resolved. Characters can be introduced, along with the situation, assumptions, and other critical story elements. Learners can rewatch the video to affirm understanding and capture other details they may have missed initially. The bonus of using video for a case study is the inherent addition of the human part of the scenario that doesn’t always translate effectively or directly from paper.
Another path for using video in activities is employing learners to capture and create video submissions in order to demonstrate knowledge and application of learning. Maybe the training topic involves the practiced use of specific behavioral techniques, like those used in active listening or providing feedback. Teams can engage in practice activities and record each other demonstrating skills. This is particularly useful when a training program encompasses several face-to-face days where learners are building on skills over that timeframe. The learners will essentially have a video diary demonstrating required skills and their improvement over time. They also will have documentation for opportunities for improvement. These videos can be shared with their supervisors and used as a benchmark for professional development plans.
Followup, Post-Training, and Evaluation
Video can be used after the formal training has been deployed, to provide learners with followup video to assist in solidifying retention on distinct training content. It’s recommended to keep these followup elements short and to-the-point. It’s also helpful to think of these followup videos as training elements themselves and consider how they can be repurposed in other fashions within other programs, or as just-in-time training.
Another method is to collect information regarding a learner’s behavioral progress after training, using video as the delivery mechanism. Learners can submit videos on an online training community portal or directly to their supervisor. Either way, the video operates similarly to learners demonstrating skills, only at the post-training stage. If submitted via community portal, learners can operate in a peer-to-peer support system, providing each other constructive feedback and insights.
Testimonials as Communications
Establishing a communications strategy when planning a training program can have a significant impact on the success of that training. In that planning, video testimonials should be considered. These snapshots of a day-in-the-life experience for learners can help to build excitement and momentum around a training program. Those video snippets can be used in a variety of ways—to promote the initiative itself, to promote the organization from a bigger perspective, and to promote the value of L&D at the organization.
Added Video Bonus: Design and Development
Instructional designers can also leverage video during the design and development process itself. When working with subject matter experts, IDs may find SMEs struggling to understand the many documents and steps in the process. IDs can create a short how-to video explaining how a document is structured or what the overall steps are in the eLearning review process. This type of video can be reused and repurposed in future training projects, specifically those with the same client.
Video presents a wide array of opportunities to be incorporated into training programs. The complexity of capturing and editing video has lessened, providing instructional designers more avenues to use it. Planning ahead and thinking through the impact of video will help make the most of this robust learning enhancement.