How to effectively use videos in eLearning and microlearning

Mobile learning graphic design

Jamie Paddock our eLearning Consultant intern explores the use of videos in eLearning and microlearning, including his top tips to create engaging and effective content..

Videos have been a staple of the learning diet for a long time. What has changed with eLearning is how videos fit into the new media environment and how we are (or are not) interacting with them. The most effective use of video is often combining good content with high production values which keeps people hooked, but doesn’t distract or disrupt their flow of learning. Here are some tips to create the best video possible.

Here are my top tips to effectively use video in eLearning and microlearning:

  • Consider the placement of video and where it best fits, for example it can hook and tease content
  • Videos can help visualise scenarios. Making them interactive on screen adds an extra edge over traditional videos
  • Videos can convey a large amount of information in a small space of time, and fit with modern learners MicroLearning styles
  • Make sure videos have accessibility built in to help those with disabilities, such as use of a transcript
  • Make sure videos are compressed so different system requirements are accommodated, therefore avoiding lag and buffering
  • Consider the appropriate length of a video. Shorter videos dispersed across the course can keep the learning engaging, rather than using one long video
  • Sharing and uploading videos can increase audience engagement
  • Consider having your video professionally made to ensure it is to a good standard and captures everything you need

Hook and tease content

Videos are a good way of hooking the user in by introducing the topic at hand through multimedia elements that can bring the experience to life. This sets the learner in the right frame of mind. By doing this, it sets the right tone for what is to come. A video can be incorporated at any stage of the course, whether it is at the start, middle or end. Why not try a video at the start of the course that could summarise content? Or why not create a memorable end or keep the interest going in the middle. The important thing is that it grabs the attention of the audience.

Videos can help bring scenarios to life

One of the best areas a video can work in eLearning is to bring scenarios to life and show "how to" and "how not to" do certain aspects of a job. Videos are at the forefront of training in the services industry, so it is no surprise that videos can enhance eLearning as well. But let’s be honest, sitting through them isn’t exactly engaging in the social media age where learning has tilted towards greater interaction and collaboration. So use scenario videos where they can fit neatly between interactive content. Or better still, make the scenarios themselves interactive.

Micro-bites in micro-time

Videos can help convey lots of information visually, through audio and possibly through hyperlinks as well. In an eLearning environment, videos are good ways of breaking up content, keeping interaction unpredictable and varied, as well as putting as much information across as possible. Interactivity can compress the amount of information by acting as entry points for more content on the same page. You could try pausing a video or having areas of a screen to interact with, which could increase audience engagement. Also, try to integrate videos with quizzes and collaborative learning features through authoring eLearning software. The rise of mobile learning means that audiences expect hybridised learning environments that use the best elements of online interaction and online play.

Accommodate for as many learning styles as possible

While videos can accommodate for visual and audio learners, some may find they struggle to take in the video all at once. Adding captions and transcripts to the video can accommodate learners who struggle to keep up if they have comprehension issues when listening. It also means that most kinds of learners are accommodated. Users can look through the video at their own pace and find the most relevant parts quickly, as well as reinforcing their learning by having another medium to interact with.

Don’t keep them waiting – compress

While buffering is largely a thing of the past, the rise of mobile devices mean that some devices may not be as powerful as others. This means loading large uncompressed HD video will lag and take time to load or to download in some cases. As streaming increasingly becomes the norm as well, it is important to make sure videos are compressed so that the likelihood of buffering over any network is reduced if not stamped out completely.

Shorter or longer: what is the Goldilocks zone of length?

The issue of whether videos should be long (more than 5 minutes) or short (up to 2 minutes) is one of the most crucial to the success and impact a video can bring to an eLearning course. This will largely depend on the context and aims of the course. It also depends on the delivery system. If it is a desktop course, longer videos maybe more suited, whereas, shorter videos are suited to mobile courses. Long videos are a good way of showing scenarios in training or testimonials from staff. The level of impact and audience engagement will then largely depend on the strength of the script, plot and acting. Shorter videos can be most useful when the point being communicated can simply vary the way content is mediated. Shorter videos can also keep the audience's attention across the length of the course. On length, it depends how far you want to stretch the audience's attention and how the learning course is being delivered.

Upload, share and collaborate

Videos are also shareable among the audience in certain eLearning environments where collaborative learning is key. While care has to be taken to curate and manage user videos, uploaded user videos can increase audience engagement and learning.

DIP in DIY out

The effectiveness of a video can also depend on the slickness of the video and professional look of it. Professional voice actors are better where there is only a need for a strong narrator or voice over, whereas, professional actors are good when acting out scenarios. Doing It Professionally rather than Doing It Yourself can sometimes be a good idea unless there is a specialist within the team. Close collaboration is still important to make sure the video is still in line with the aims of the course itself.

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