Top ten tips for using 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 is the best way to illustrate the learning?’ Video can be more memorable than text so use it for emphasising 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 emphasise.

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 programmes 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.

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About the author

Jennifer Wrigley - Instructional designer and Project lead

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  • Hi Jennifer,

    I’ve enjoyed reading this. thank you for taking the trouble to write it. I did want to take issue with a couple of things though – in the spirit of debate: I hope you don’t mind.

    I work with teachers and trainers mainly in the F.E./WBL/ACL [I know you're based in the UK so the acronyms may be familiar] communities and often promote the use of video for delivery (which your blog post concerns) but also for assessment and learner authorship. I think that a definitive list of using video in e-Learning should include assessment and use by learners to show understanding or to capture evidence. Sadly your own does not.

    Certainly, in the Education sector that employs me, there is little funding to support No 6 and little time for No 7 – although they are excellent points.

    Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to reply to your post.

    David

  • All rules are made to be broken!

    On item 6 – if you are using video to capture a process or task in, say, a manufacturing facility, then an actor may actually be a detriment.

    You’ll probably spend more time getting the actor up to speed on the steps in the task (so the film shoot may take longer) and to the audience’s eye the actor may still not do it with the level of authenticity they expect.

    Authenticity is critical to the learner’s judgment of value/relevance, in many cases.

    Thanks for the list!

  • Kia ora Jennifer!

    I wholeheartedly agree with what you are saying here, with every point you make.

    These fundamental and key aspects of resource creation using videos are so often completely overlooked through the misguided enthusiasm of the newbie elearning developer.

    Catchya later

  • Jennifer Wrigley

    Thanks to everyone for all of your comments so far!

    In response:

    David – I think you make a valid point – video can be very effective for some assessments. We actually used this technique on a recent course about interviewing skills and it got really good feedback.

    Chris – you’re right that, as with everything, there isn’t a one size fits all approach so in some cases it will be more appropriate to use employees rather than actors for videos. However, you do always have to consider what happens if that employee leaves the organisation – do you update the video too?

    Ken – Thanks for your support!

  • Good info here – and I think video is under-used at the moment in e-learning.

  • Hi Jennifer
    I am a video producer and have background in learning and e-learning so found this interesting to read. I think its pretty sound advice although there are a whole load of issues surrounding the making of the video and getting the production side correct without looking poor quality. Lighting and audio being the major stumbling blocks.
    Im going to put a link to this article on my blog if thats OK. Let me know if you ever need any video production resource.
    Cheers
    Duncan

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