Why Video in Training Can Be So Powerful

Fiber opticsLearning is important for human growth and development, and training is certainly an integral part of workplace learning. But a constant challenge for workplace learning professionals is creating training programs that captivate the learner audience and cause learners to sit up, take notice and, well, learn.

Effective use of video in training can be an extremely powerful. The “Pictorial Superiority Effect”* indicates that using pictures and words together promotes greater information recall. Specifically, after 3 days, we tend to remember 10% of the information we saw in word format whereas we tend to remember 65% of the information we saw in both picture and word formats.

Video Makes Concept Visualization Easier

Videos can transport the learner to places where he or she could not physically travel, or travel in a reasonable timeframe. Need the learner to travel around the globe, to a distant part of the universe, back in time, or to the ocean depths? Use video as the transportation vehicle.

When you are asking the learner “travel someplace else in their mind” and to visualize a concept, but you only describe that concept in words, it may be difficult for some learners to make the required intuitive leap. For example:

    • If you want a learner to understand how a black hole is formed, you could describe the process in words: “Stellar black holes form when the center of a very massive star collapses in upon itself. This collapse also causes a supernova, or an exploding star, that blasts part of the star into space.”
    • Or, you could show a video of the process:

  • Better yet, you could show the video and add narration or text to include the verbal explanation with the visual demonstration, for improved understanding and recall.

The key is to use video (with appropriate text, words or narration) to help the learner to visualize important concepts.

Video Supports Performance at the Work Site

Videos are an effective way to communicate information at the point-of-need and at the specific location where that information is actually needed. In this way, video is well-suited to performance support and can be used for conveying information such as step-by-step directions, navigation, and demonstrations.  And while some training content is not truly well-suited to mLearning, videos are easily viewed and transported on mobile devices, further aiding learning at the point-of-need and on the job.

In addition, videos can provide a standardized method of communicating procedures or messages throughout all areas of an organization. Or, for communicating the company brand and procedures to external partners or customers in a consistent manner.

Videos Aid in Immersive Storytelling

Storytelling is an effective technique for conveying information in an engaging manner. We all love to hear (good) stories. Plus, as stories help to make concepts less personal, storytelling is an excellent way to present sensitive information, dramatize interpersonal relationships, introduce case studies and discuss conflict resolution.

In addition, when I think of traditional “storytelling”, I also think of a person, a storyteller. Technically, a storyteller is a “talking head”, and we’ve been conditioned to think negatively of “talking heads” (a.k.a., “boring lecturers”). But, “talking heads” do not need to be boring by default. When it comes to videos, “talking heads” can be just fine…as long as speaker’s communication style is highly visual and engaging. And, it’s a well-documented fact in neuroscience and/or psychology that we tend to see human faces in everyday objects. There may be times when you create video for training where you will want to tie a human face to the verbal and visual concepts you are conveying, and other times when you want to add voiceover narration.

Ideas for Incorporating Video in Training

There are many ways to add a video component to your training. These three articles are a great starting point to spark idea generation:

For a fully engaging training experience, experiment with video. But also consider adding audio (integrated into other components or standalone), images, quizzes, social media and other forms of discussion, games, at-your-work-desk assignments and other forms of learner engagement to make your training fully immersive and memorable. If you are more comfortable with mobile technology, yo you can also include iPad training as part of your training program.

Have you used video as a technique to drive learner engagement, or are you thinking of doing so? Please share your experiences and ideas using our social media channels.

* Nelson, D.L., Reed, U.S., & Walling, J.R. (1976). Pictorial superiority effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning & Memory, 2, 523-528.

Gauri Reyes is a talent developer and learning leader with extensive experience in roles ranging from software management to managing the learning function in organizations. She is Principal Learning Strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and Founder of the YOUth LEAD program. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

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