Four Ways to Use Video in e-Learning

Read. Click Next. Read. Click Next. Skim. Click Next. Click Next. Click Next.

Admit it. This is the way most of us take self-paced e-learning courses. Too often the e-learning we take contains nothing more than text on a slide, an irrelevant graphic, and on some occasions, audio narration. Not only is this not effective, but it makes e-learning predictable and boring. By slide three, we start clicking next before the narration is even complete.clapper board with hand

It is unfortunate, but sometimes expediency wins the day, and learning designers just "get the content out there" under a tight deadline. The problem is, more often you release boring e-learning, the more likely that people will no longer want to complete your training, and you will lose credibility.

It does not have to be this way. There are plenty of ways to make your e-learning more engaging, and video is one way to do that. Don't be scared, adding video to your e-learning does not have to be a big production. In fact, there are four ways that video can improve engagement in your e-learning, and Mindflash makes it easy.

Use Your Webcam

One easy way to add video to your e-learning courses is to record a brief introductory message for your course using your Webcam at your desk. This is a great and easy way to make your e-learning course a bit more personal. It also gives you a chance to make the case for why the training is important to take and what people will get out of the course. If you are really advanced, get a senior executive to record a short introductory message to kick-off important, company-wide training or get a product manager to record a brief video launching new product training. The key is to keep these messages short, informal, and conversational.

Interview Employees Around the Office

Another way to use video to bring life to your e-learning is to interview employees around the office about the topic of the training. If the topic is employee on-boarding, interview employees about the day-in-the-life of working there. If the topic is giving feedback, interview HR about techniques that work and do not work. Interview experts in different departments sharing what they do and how they do it. If you are really advanced, interview your CEO.

Employee interviews are effective when they are authentic and give a sense of what life is like in your organization. Plus, they can be inexpensive to make. Most smart phones and digital cameras have video cameras in them that are of the quality you need to make videos like this.

Movie Clips

We have all been watching a movie when a scene comes up that teaches a lesson relevant to life in your organization. Trainers have been using movie clips in classroom training for years. Why not do it in your e-learning? They key is to select a clip that is precisely relevant to the topic. Don't just add a movie clip that you find amusing. There are a few good books on this subject that list movie clips and the lessons they teach to get your started. Just like with any intellectual property, be mindful of licensing and use rights. Books, like the one above provide guidance, and you might want to discuss this issue with your legal department.

Create Your Own Cartoons

It is hard to believe, but creating your own cartoon videos is now as easy as can be. GoAnimate is a service that enables you to create your own cartoon videos. They provide templates, plenty of examples, and the video you create can be inserted into your Mindflash course. All you have to do is come up with a short story that is relevant to your training course.

GoAnimate offers a free account, so you can create simple videos for free to get used to using it. When you are ready, you can upgrade to their business account which offers more features.

Anyone Can Do It

Using video in e-learning used to require hiring a production company, which is very expensive and time consuming. Today, video technology has come so far and any one with an idea and a little time can create short videos that can be used to enhance the effectiveness of e-learning. It will take some practice, but it is worth the effort because video can really improve your e-learning. Be honest, that Zappos employee video was fun to watch, wasn't it?

How have you used video in your e-learning? Share your stories in the comments below.

Bill Cushard, author, blogger, and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technologist (HPT) with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations in start-up and hyper-growth organizations like E*TRADE, the Knowland Group, and Allonhill. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+.

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