The power of video in e-learning

Four ways video can work as a powerful tool

18 January 2018 | Chloe Cheeseman | , ,

Video is the modern global medium for consuming educational and entertainment content. By 2019, technologists predict that 80% of all internet traffic will be video. Video-creating technology has also improved in terms of both quality and accessibility, making it easier and more affordable than ever to include video elements as part of a learning mix. But why bother to jump on the bandwagon? Using our experience at Walkgrove in making award-winning learning solutions, we’ve suggested four ways that video can work as a powerful learning tool either standalone or as a component of an e-learning, classroom, or blended learning solution.

Video can motivate your learners

Making your audience want to learn is a key training design challenge, particularly in compulsory learning courses. Video presents instructional designers with unique possibilities of answering the, ‘why bother?’ question for learners up front and with impact. Using a creative combination of striking active visuals, music and voiceover is an effective way to grab learners’ attention, engage them emotionally and dramatise the human impact of learning outcomes on customers, colleagues or beneficiaries.

If used well, video storytelling can produce a powerful introduction to bespoke e-learning or classroom-based training that activates the drive to learn. You could even release a video ‘teaser’ trailer for your training as part of the exciting build-up to the launch of a new initiative or product. 

Remember, these introductions don’t need to be high-budget to be effective. A brief introduction to a course filmed on your smartphone or webcam can instantly make the training feel more relevant and personal. This could be delivered by a senior executive, colleague or service user - anyone who can give the training a real-world, human face.

Video can keep your learning audience engaged and interested

Engagement is key to successful learning. However, for our modern training audience, whose attention span is apparently shorter than a goldfish’s, maintaining focus on course materials is a significant hurdle. This is especially relevant for learners who are self-guided in desktop or mobile e-learning environments, and are prone to distraction by email notifications or social media interactions. Modern e-learning development has to take these challenges into account.

Video elements that are relevant, well-scripted and creative can bring variation and enjoyment to training materials that help to maintain learner interest and attention. A beneficial feature of video is that it can simultaneously incorporate audio, visual, written and ‘interactive’ elements, which appeal to all learning preferences and styles. The combined power of all these features makes video a useful tool to deliver short bursts of easily digestible information in an entertaining format.

To keep the learning experience active and retain learner attention, videos should be used selectively and in short snippets. Trainers and content marketers seem to agree that videos of no more than a couple of minutes are the most impactful.

Video can facilitate ‘learning by doing’ in realistic situations

If we want learners to retain and apply their new knowledge and skills, then they need to feel that the teaching content is relevant to them. Video technology makes it possible for us to create custom e-learning simulations that can immerse e-learning audiences in realistic scenarios and demonstrate to them how they can apply the taught content in a practical, day-to-day context.

Using actors or virtual characters, we can present learners with scenarios in which they have to make decisions about what actions to take. As with traditional role-play activities in classroom teaching, such simulations allow the training audience to learn by doing and learn by their own mistakes. This applied and practical approach facilitates deep learning and knowledge retention. See an example here. Collision management for TfL

Using video, we can also show learners the consequences of their decisions unfolding in realistic scenes. Such techniques can have a powerful effect. Witnessing the realistic impacts of their choices means that learners are more likely to have an emotional engagement with the content; one which better embeds the knowledge they have acquired, and will enable them to apply it if they encounter a similar situation in real life.

Videos make great standalone, accessible learning tools

Thanks to YouTube and the proliferation of video-based content on social media, many learners are already used to watching short videos for both entertainment and information purposes. Video is a great option for creating ‘quick-burst’ learning content in this modern, fast-paced cultural environment. Short videos that are downloadable or also hosted online are easily accessible across different platforms, including smartphones and tablets, facilitating learning ‘on the go’.

A wide range of bite-sized content can be delivered using video, but its inherently visual and animated nature makes it especially helpful for presenting practical demonstrations, such as teaching all the steps and details involved in assembling a product or using a piece of software.  These ‘micro-learning’ videos are also a great option to support blended learning solutions, either as short learning refreshers of key points, or introductions to new topics prior to further face-to-face training or e-learning.


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