Video may have killed the radio star, but it’s also killed more passive forms of corporate training, such as the static PowerPoint or whiteboard presentation. With the proliferation of video content online, from YouTube and TikTok to Facebook Live, we’re saturated by videos. In fact, it’s estimated that audiences worldwide watch more than 1 billion hours of video on YouTube every day. It’s also estimated that more than 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. If you tried to watch the amount of content loaded onto YouTube in a single hour, it would take you around ten years! Those stats don’t even take into account the myriad other video-hosting platforms emerging and gaining in popularity every day!
However, not all videos are created equal, and audiences are becoming more discerning in regard to video content. So, as an online training course developer, you will need premier video content if you are going to deliver premier training content.
Before you can begin making great training videos, you need to have the basics on point. That means taking a pragmatic approach to your video development. You’ll want to consider the amount of time that you have to spend on production, your tech capabilities, and the needs and expectations of your target audience.
Depending on what you need and want for your videos, you have several options. One option is to embed short but non-interactive videos into your course. You can sequence the videos and embed access restrictions to ensure that students view one video in its entirety before moving on to the next. In addition, quizzes, knowledge checks, or other activities may be inserted between the videos to promote learner engagement, as the videos themselves are not interactive.
Another option is to increase interactivity by using a course authoring tool such as Rise for sequencing videos and integrating learning activities and assessments between the videos. You are not embedding learner activities within the videos themselves, but rather are creating a more cohesive, linear course because the course authoring tool enables the videos and learner activities to be linked. Thus, the course moves the student seamlessly from segment to segment (i.e., from video to video or from video to knowledge check and on to another video). Courses created using these authoring tools are then loaded onto SCORM and from there, onto the LMS to create a tidy, integrated course.
It’s also relatively simple to add interactive exercises and knowledge checks to videos and MP4s using course authoring tools like Articulate Storyline. In this case, interactive tasks, such as short, multiple-choice knowledge checks, can be inserted “on top” of the video. When the activity pops up, the video will stop, and students won’t be able to proceed with the video until they complete the exercise.
For a third option, you can add hot buttons on top of the video, which will enable students to access additional information to enhance their understanding or familiarize themselves with terms and concepts that may be new to them. You’ll need to upload to SCORM before posting the course to the LMS, but these tools are worth the extra effort because you’re introducing a significant level of interactivity into the videos themselves.
The fourth option is a bit more complex, requiring a fair degree of proficiency in video editing. This involves modifying MP4s using a video editing tool like Camtsia. If you’re new to video editing, Camtasia can be a bit of a headache, but if you have experience, it can be a great way to develop highly interactive content precisely tailored to the needs of your course and your client.
Whether you’re going for a relatively basic course format or something a bit more ambitious, there are a few fundamentals that you’ll need to have to ensure that your videos are top-notch. Specifically, you’ll want to have appropriate lighting and good sound quality throughout. If learners struggle to see or hear the content, they won’t get all that they should from the course.
In addition to the overall production quality, you will need a cohesive plan for your video content. That means striking the right balance between spontaneous and formulaic. You want your content to feel fresh but also well-crafted and nicely strategized. This will ensure that the videos are both relevant and easy to follow, while avoiding the impression that you’re either making things up on the fly or worse, recycling canned content.
Why Videos Matter
Perhaps the greatest attribute of videos is that they’re not always just videos. With today’s technologies, you can embed all sorts of goodies into your courses to make them memorable and from a pedagogical standpoint, effective.
Modern adult learners require multimedia content to engage them and address diverse learning needs and styles. So, when it comes to creating training videos for online courses, take care to mix things up a bit. Combine short films with audio clips and arresting images to capture and hold learners’ interest and engagement, no matter whether they’re auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners.
Focus on Interactivity
The best training videos require more from learners than just their passive attention. Videos can and should be interactive to promote learner engagement, content mastery, and information and skills retention. You should integrate active learning exercises into your courses, whether within the videos themselves or more likely, between discrete videos combined to create a cohesive and interactive learning experience. These might include brief test-your-knowledge quizzes, case studies followed by multiple-choice questions, or short skills tests to enable learners to apply what they’ve learned to real-world situations (or simulations).
Using video clips enables you to insert your own interactive content between clips, which can be a more efficient approach, especially if you are new to creating training videos. However, a range of content, from web sources to integrated activities, may be featured within a single video, provided that you have the appropriate course authoring tools, such as Articulate Storyline.
That said, the key is to ensure that your interactive elements are purposeful, relevant, and strategic. This goes back to the idea of having a clear plan, a coherent strategy, and a good script for the course as a whole and for every individual video that you create for the course. Without a clear roadmap and effective scaffolding within and across course elements, including all course videos, learners may easily become lost, confused, frustrated, and disengaged.
With a course authoring tool like Adobe Captivate, you can embed even more sophisticated learner activities, such as drag-and-drop exercises and click-and-reveal interactions.
Interactive videos can be phenomenal for ensuring that learners are actively engaged in their learning. For example, progression restrictions can be embedded in the videos, requiring the learner to successfully complete a knowledge check or another exercise before they can move on to the next section.
Use Videos to Create an Unforgettable and Irresistible Intro
One of your first and most important jobs as an online course developer is to create content that captures learners’ attention early and keeps it for the duration of the course. Videos are ideal for this. For example, you can use videos at the outset of the course to quickly capture learners’ interest and drive their learning motivation. This might involve a brief clip of a workplace scenario to set the stage for a workplace safety training course, or it might simply be a presenter asking the audience to consider a provocative moral question as a jumping-off point for an EEO certification module.
Above all, the goal is to present a short but compelling “real-world” scenario within the first five minutes of the course, so learners will feel that the course is not something that they should or need to do, but rather something that they want and get to do.
Keep It Brief
Today’s learners are busy and distracted. If you’re going to make first-rate training videos, more is not always better. Instead, harness the benefits of microlearning by using videos to chunk learning content into digestible units. Ideally, you should limit videos to around two minutes or less to support comprehension and retention and keep learners engaged and motivated.
For example, short videos enable learners to work on the course even when their time is limited, such as watching a short video or two while they are on their lunch break or waiting to pick up the kids from school. Learners get to complete their lessons on their own timeline, integrating their learning into their busy schedule, rather than adjusting their schedule to meet the demands of the course.
Even as micro-lessons offer the flexibility that adult learners often need, they also can be profoundly motivating. Each micro-lesson is a milestone on the route to a larger goal. No matter how limited a learner’s time may be on any given day, being able to check off one or two short training videos on their list can provide a tremendous sense of accomplishment and motivate the learner to keep moving forward to course completion.
Of course, if you’re going to create brief videos and build your content around microlearning so learners can study whenever and wherever they want, you’ll need to be creative. In particular, you’ll need to ensure that the content is optimized for mobile devices and can be easily loaded and viewed on smartphones and tablets. But it’s not going to be enough to verify that your content works across various mobile platforms. You also need to make sure the content translates well across devices, so test early and often to ensure that your videos are as captivating on a smartphone or tablet as they are on PC and Mac.
It’s Not a Speech
If you want to make top-notch training videos, there’s one thing that you should never do: treat the video like a speech. There’s nothing more boring, less engaging, or less useful than watching someone just reading a speech or worse, reading exactly from the text that is already on screen (aka “death by PowerPoint”).
Instead, use a more conversational approach. Just because learners can’t answer back in real time doesn’t mean you can’t pose questions, ask them to visualize scenarios, or regale them with your own relevant and appropriate anecdotes, just as you would if you were working with a live audience. Learners want a human being, not a script.
You’ll also want to add to the written and visual content by providing supplemental information, interesting and relevant facts, stories, tips for applying the content—anything to humanize the material and demonstrate its utility for the learner. Be sure to include interactive elements, especially in the opening video of the course, to draw learners in and keep them engaged. Interactive elements might include video clips that can be used as case studies for applying the learning content or test-your-knowledge quizzes.
Great training videos don’t just happen. They take time, strategy, and creativity. However, with a little know-how and a few great course authoring tools, you can create dynamic, interactive, and multimodal learning videos that learners love, ones that will have clients clamoring for more content and more courses. Best of all, platforms such as Firmwater’s LMS give you the freedom to let your creativity run wild. For instance, Firmwater LMS will support courses featuring the most advanced (and technologically demanding!) video content.
Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with our clients, giving them the tools and insights they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, growth, and delivery. We care too much about our customers’ businesses to have them wade through forums and chatbots for help.
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