Scholars and educators have written—ad nauseum—about what constitutes a valid question. (If you don’t believe me, Google the phrase “theory of asking questions.”) This blog won’t resolve that philosophical problem. But, it could help corporate trainers.
Trainers who use an LMS or an online learning portal struggle to come up with meaningful questions. By definition, they’re not in the same room with the trainees, so they can’t improvise if they see puzzled looks. Some of the best questions in a live situation depend on the “flow” of a training session. Since online training involves an asynchronous learning environment, how do we create questions that promote good learning outcomes?
There are many different types of questions, but we’ll focus on three great ways to use multiple choice for this blog. (Of course, there are many more question types that we can explore in time..) For starters, let’s decide what type of learning outcome we’re most interested in. Questions are used to gauge learner understanding and progress, so it’s really important to know the underlying goal.
Compliance-Oriented Training Questions
If the context is regulatory or policy compliance, it’s a simple matter to require a trainee to pick correct answers from multiple choice lists. When this content is being delivered through a video, inserting multiple choice questions throughout the timeline of the video helps to both retain the learner’s engagement and provide important knowledge check data for management. With a system like Viddler, it’s also easy to see the percentage of right answers by each viewer of a video, and report the results to HR.
Wording a compliance-oriented multiple choice question can be tricky. Be sure to include right-sounding or plausible alternatives to the correct response, so that the trainees will have to use critical thinking to decide. Occasionally, you may also want to throw in the familiar “all of the above” and “none of the above” responses.
When learners answer incorrectly, feedback and reinforcement of the correct information is essential. . With in-video questions in the Viddler platform, there is the potential to take the user to a specific moment in the video. For example, if an incorrect answer is chosen in Viddler Training Suite, you can now take the user back to a specific moment in the video where the right answer is presented.
Knowledge Assessment Questions
Very often, the trainer does not know what each trainee has already mastered. This creates a dilemma. Either the training video will be boring to those who already know the material, or the trainer will have to create many videos—to accommodate various levels of understanding.
Asking multiple choice questions before discussing the material allows advanced students to skip what they already know. Of course this only works if the right answer takes the viewer forward—to the next portion of the lesson. (Viddler lets you do that.)
Grading trainees on knowledge assessment questions can be coupled with more traditional multiple choice questions—asking about something from a skipped portion of the video, for example.
Skills Mastery Questions
Skills mastery questions are intended to inspire thinking, not just measure memorization. You can see this distinction when you ask a trainee to pick the one right answer from a list of wrong ones. Or, you can ask the trainee to pick the best answer (from a list of correct options) or the first step (from a randomized list of procedural steps).
Skills mastery questions are intended to inspire thinking, not just measure memorization. For that reason, you can make your in-video questions optional. You can also simply continue playing the video after a response, rather than force the learner to a specific point in the video. Of course you can track responses (or the lack thereof), but the questions are there to encourage engagement and provide timely reminders, not just generate a quiz grade.
There are of course other ways to assess skills mastery besides multiple choice questions, such as the video assignment workflow in Viddler Training Suite. That, however, is a topic for another blog.
There’s More to Come
Viddler Training Suite recently added a new user interface and reporting capability for inserting multiple choice questions within videos. (See our announcement for more details.) Other question types will follow.
In future blogs, we will outline best practices and learning outcome variants for other question types, including multi-select, true/false, numeric survey, sort order, freeform text, and others. Stay tuned.
One thing is certain. Well-worded questions are a valuable tool for trainers and eLearning professionals. Viddler’s ability to place these questions inside a training video makes them even more so.