Learning professionals have a firm grasp of the value of online video. They also experience anxiety—not just about finding ways to use video more effectively, but also about cost. It’s a dilemma.
Many equate good video with high-end production (scripts, storyboards, actors, directors, shooting schedules, post-production, etc.) Perhaps it’s time to broaden our definition of online video. Effective video content need not be a mutually exclusive choice between high, unsustainable production cost and low do-it-yourself (DIY) quality. Here are 7 different ways to create and use online video:
1. High-End Hollywood
First things first: professionally produced video can be a powerful learning medium. It can also be a poor one, if the script is badly written or (more likely) if the length of a given segment exceeds human attention spans. However, even when it’s well done, the cost of professionally-produced eLearning video can be hard to justify. There’s still a place for it, especially for high-profile online courses that are supported by subscription or tuition dollars.
Produced in small, repurposable segments, professionally created video can anchor a training series that also includes other, less costly media.
2. DIY Dilemma
The typical corporate or academic response to the high cost of video production is to bring it in house. Internally produced video can potentially be a source of eLearning content, but there are serious risks. Often, the task falls to a marketing department other entity that may not have training or learning as its primary mission.
There are also hidden costs—not just the cameras, lighting, and editing software, but also the allocation of space for shooting and the man-hours required to create engaging learning. As with professional video, the DIY equivalent should be used judiciously, in small, repurposable segments.
3. Captured (Live) Content
Recordings of live events—from traditional lectures to webinars—are a seemingly endless source of on-demand video. However, as viable eLearning content, these enormous video files leave much to be desired. They are seldom searchable, nor do they often come with tools for easy navigation or even playback speed control. Like their live counterparts, unedited online webinars are often filled with digressions and distractions, making them a tedious substitute for well-designed online courseware. Just as a textbook needs special features like an index and a table of contents, so also do captured lectures need tools that empower the busy learner.
4. Presentation Perils
Expert users of PowerPoint are familiar with its ability to record the presenter’s voice—timed to each slide—and output the entire work as a WMV file. Technically, this is digital video, but its eLearning value must be considered with caution.
Like captured lectures and webinars, PowerPoint video is simply a “blob” of content—if it doesn’t have inherent searchability or control of the viewing experience. Potentially, such video has great online training potential, especially if it is relatively short and well-designed. However, without true interactivity—preferably within the timeline—its training value is limited.
5. Screenshot Secrets
Another useful form of video is the capture of screen actions, merged with the narration of a software trainer or expert. Using a simple application like Apple’s QuickTime Pro (Mac only) or TechSmith’s Camtasia, the creation of video tutorials has become a common, and comparatively inexpensive way to generate eLearning video.
Some of the same drawbacks apply. Software training videos are also typically not searchable, both overall and at the timeline level. As a result, it can be difficult to locate the exact knowledge required.
Also, thanks to the rapid pace of change in software, keeping video tutorials current can be a costly proposition. (One way to overcome this is by recording task tutorials in small segments, and combining them in a seamless playlist. When a task or procedure becomes outdated, it is far easier to replace one segment than to redo the entire learning sequence.)
6. Webcam Wonders
Another underutilized source for video is the lowly webcam found in most modern laptops and tablets. Recording, uploading, and transcoding video from these devices can be automated, thereby capturing content from instructors and learners.
However, there are caveats to this kind of video. Not everyone is comfortable in front of a camera, and the learning value of a “talking head” video is dependent on the context. Simply dumping such content into a website or LMS has the same problems as captured lectures or presentations—lack of searchability and interactivity.
To leverage this kind of video, the learning framework must not only capture what the webcam sees. It must also provide a specific eLearning context (e.g., using the webcam to respond to a scenario), allow for rehearsal and selection of a preferred “take,” and above all provide a way for instructors and peers to interact through the use of a video timeline.
7. More Mobile
Almost all smartphones and tablets let you capture and upload video. But, a large percentage of such video is of limited eLearning value. Without the context and tools of an interactive learning environment, such videos—while inexpensive—are simply more “blobs” of unsearchable data.
Mobile video alone is subject to the same issues as other DIY video. Fortunately, there are new template-based approaches to shooting better mobile video, such as StoryVine. Even more importantly, mobile video is a great adjunct to many eLearning workflows, such as scenario-based learning, role playing, or training reinforcement.
But Is It Interactive?
Even with all these low-cost sources of video files, learning and development professionals need to use them with care. Placing them in a viable online course is only the first step. We must make video more than a passive viewing experience by measurably engaging the learner at the timeline level.
Fortunately, Viddler is in the business of doing just that!