Creating Videos for Learning: Producing Didactic Video Is a Skill That Will Be as Important as Designing Workbooks That Aid Learning. Here Are Expert Tips on Making a Great Learning Video

By Halls, Jonathan | Talent Development, March 2012 | Go to article overview

Creating Videos for Learning: Producing Didactic Video Is a Skill That Will Be as Important as Designing Workbooks That Aid Learning. Here Are Expert Tips on Making a Great Learning Video


Halls, Jonathan, Talent Development


Shooting video is easy, right? Find a subject matter expert, turn the camera on, and press record. If only it was. Like any form of effective communication, good video that is both easy to understand and remember takes time and skill to craft.

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If video is new to you, here are important principles to follow when creating a learning video, as well as practices that will ensure your video looks professional.

Why it works

Video is fashionable at the moment because it seems so easy to produce and cameras are cheaper than ever before. It's easy to think of video as the perfect solution for many learning needs, but often it is not.

The first discipline required of learning professionals is to determine when video will aid learning and when it will not. This comes down to knowing its strengths and weaknesses as a communication method.

In general, video is less effective at conveying complex content with a great deal of detail than other methods such as simple text or graphical illustrations. So if you want to use video to replace a training seminar on HR compliance policy, you might want to reconsider.

Video is a visual method of communication that loses its power when there aren't many interesting pictures or shot changes to keep the viewer glued to the screen. That's why people easily get bored with videos of lectures and seminars. There's usually only one shot of someone talking and no action to keep their attention.

But video is excellent for teaching a simple procedural task such as how to change a printer cartridge or operate a forklift safely. It's perfect when the learning involves something the viewer can watch in action.

Video also is good when there is a strong narrative that is easy to see. That's why we spend so much money at the box office each year. Video can be great for leadership training showing body language, interpersonal relationships, rapport-building skills, and so forth.

The first skill that learning practitioners need to have is saying no to video when there's no visual action or narrative. Recognize that complex content with much detail is better conveyed using other methods such as text or graphics.

Guidelines

When you've determined that video is ideal for your learning needs, it's time to start planning the production. Don't be surprised if you spend more time planning your video than shooting it. (That's how it works in professional television production.) To get the best result, here are three tips to help you plan an engaging video that will work well in the learning context.

Aim for only one learning objective.

The more focused your content is, the stronger it will be. It can be tempting to cram loads of content into your video; however, you'll cause cognitive overload, so stick to only one learning objective per video.

Plan many visuals. Start your video planning as you would start planning a training session. Complete a task analysis for the learning objective and then plan what pictures will show that task being performed.

Think carefully about how each shot will convey your message. Your camera is your viewer's eye, so ask yourself where your viewer would want to stand if she was learning that task live in the classroom. Would she like to stand in close to see details (close-up) or further away (wide shot) to get an overview of the process? Would she like to be looking down at it (birds eye angle)? Perhaps she'd like a combination of both.

After you create a storyboard, write your script. As you write, let your picture carry most of the message and only use the spoken word to build on what your viewer can see. …

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