Redwood Performance Group

“The real power of using video and animation in learning is storytelling. It not only gives the learner engagement, but it enhances learning delivery to introduce content, explain and present steps and learning material, review concepts, and share others’ experiences.”

That’s Charles Lister talking, Redwood’s Senior Media Creative, in response to my question: “From your experience, what is the most significant benefit video brings to eLearning?” These days, there’s no shortage of studies that attest to the power of storytelling through video in all aspects of corporate communications. According to a recent survey published by the Content Marketing Institute, 73% of respondents declared that video had become more important to their businesses in the past year.

This comes as no surprise to all of us at Redwood. Our DNA is corporate communications and before we shifted our focus to eLearning two decades ago, creating and producing videos was a major driver of our business. It has been a skill that continues to be deeply reflected in many aspects of our eLearning design and production. And if there has been one constant that has remained over the multi-year transition of video being highly specialized to widely democratized, it is that great video requires a distinct skill set. In other words, if you want professional learning results, use professional video context and visual experts.

While the obvious need for professional skills hasn’t changed, most other aspects of producing video have. For example, many people feel that video production is simply too expensive to be practical in an eLearning context. That’s absolutely correct – if this was 2005! Fortunately, technological advancements have reduced the cost of video significantly. That phone in your back pocket has a camera that is far superior to the best professional cameras from a decade or two ago – cameras that cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars at the time. Reduced production costs help eLearning teams allocate available resources to video creators who know how to elicit the “wow” from learners.

How does video fit into your eLearning initiative?

Just because video is more accessible doesn’t mean it’s necessarily appropriate for every eLearning project. Before Redwood recommends video be included in an eLearning project we step back and ask four fundamental questions:

  • How does video fit into this learning initiative?
  • Is it the right vehicle to convey the desired message or learning content?
  • How does it contribute to and how will it create greater learner engagement and retention?
  • Will it deliver the desired results?

For example, Redwood recently produced a series of eLearning modules for the Speech and Stuttering Institute, here in Toronto. Early in the design process, we saw a great opportunity to not only use video, but also expand its benefits by creating an annotation tool that would let learners share videos, make comments and exchange ideas around specific segments. The result was impressive: Learners shared ideas and helped one another comprehend key skills, resulting in a much deeper level of engagement.

Video is also great for scenario-based training. Redwood recently produced an animated series based on helping healthcare professionals respond appropriately to various situations when caring for Alzheimer’s patients. It was amazing – although not surprising – to see how quickly learners could tune in and comprehend complex situations and dynamics. I couldn’t imagine achieving the same results using text.

Branching stories is another area where video really shines. In essence, this is interactive video where the learner chooses what they feel is the best path to achieving the desired outcome. What better way for a learner to understand the quality of their choice than by seeing it play out in real time? Equally powerful, learners can more fully appreciate how different choices can result in different outcomes – providing a more multi-dimensional understanding of a subject.

If you’re leading an eLearing team that hasn’t experienced these benefits, there’s no better time than now to up your video game. There’s no shortage of resources to help you get started and guide your journey as you build knowledge and skills. If you’re hiring an eLearning professional, make a point of asking for input as to how your content can be enhanced by video.

Trust me: your learners will love you for it!