We’ve discussed the prevalence of video as part of everyone’s online learning toolkit. You can have blog posts, marketing strategy, and an awesome web page but it doesn’t matter if you can’t create a video to guide a viewer. Here, we’ll take a look at a series of questions that can help us create videos optimized for the effective delivery of information.
When you’re creating video content, your objectives should aim for effectiveness and engagement. To achieve that in learning videos, the two takeaways are:
Understanding best practices
Thorough, detailed planning
Let’s start with best practices. There are four main elements that need to be addressed for best practices to be achieved in the type of content that is effective to viewers.
Effective learning videos are about relaying information and reinforcing that information so it sticks for the long-term. Signaling is how you do that. Using on-screen text or graphics to highlight facts and key information, you signal to the viewer that the information presented is important. The repetition and reinforcement will make even lots of densely packed informational short videos memorable.
When you record a video, you want to have natural chapters or information breaks so learners can process the information and go back for reference easily. Be intentional about how you choose video organizational strategies so it’s digestible. Generally speaking, we want to limit individual videos to five minutes or less.
Effectiveness in video content, just like in a classroom environment or online learning modules, is diminished by extraneous and unnecessary information. Weeding refers to removing all that from videos to get down to the crux of the matter. We want everything in any online video we produce - music, images, spoken words, graphics, even animation - to contribute to our learning goal.
4. Matching Modality
It’s important that the audios align with the visuals. Not just the track itself but that the themes and tone match up. If your dialogue is evoking strong emotions while your graphics are silly, it can lessen the impact on your learners. Learners process visuals differently than they do audio or verbal content - be sure video and visual story-telling methods are the way you want to relay this information. Expensive, high-quality delivery methods are wasted on content that’s not digestible through video content.
Detailed Planning Ahead
When it comes to designing actual video content, it’s important to spend time planning out the learning environment and its goals. This results in a product that’s cost-effective and efficient to create, as well as one that delivers an improved learning experience.
When you’re clear on the goals, you can focus on accomplishing video engagement by always coming back to the core question: how does this contribute to our learning goals? Whether your video marketing goals or learning goals in general, by laying out the details of your video and the big picture, content hurdles that arise will be easily surmountable.
In order to facilitate video content planning, work through a structured sequence of framework questions. Here are five questions to use for outlining content for an informational video that emphasizes recall by the learner:
1. How can I contextualize learners as they start watching the video?
To start information presentations, begin by helping learners understand why the information is important and how it fits into the larger information context. Instead of beating them over the head with how important this is, try to relate it to a realization or question they may have had. This way, they can relate to the information instead of being lectured to. This type of contextualization often begins with such questions as, “Have you ever wondered why…” or “Have you ever noticed…”
There are a number of good strategies for contextualizing the information we’re presenting. One I often recommend is the “interview.” This is generally an informal “interview” or conversation in which one person asks another about a concept or its application in some form. This is effective for the viewer because it models interest and discovery and adds an element of engagement.
2. How should I present the key concept covered in the video?
Once we’ve provided a general context for the learner, we’re ready to present the key concept, which is the main focus of the video. As with the contextualization step, there are a number of good options for presenting concepts. If possible, I recommend showing as opposed to telling. This means providing ample signaling and/or graphic reinforcement. If the key concept is a mathematical formula or scientific notation, it might be wise to consider some form of lightboard technology for illustration.
3. How can I prompt learners to apply the concept personally?
Once we’ve presented the key information concept, we want to ask a few questions to help the viewer think about how to apply the information to her/his personal situation or interests. This personalization of the information is particularly helpful regarding recall. A few simple questions or a personal example are particularly effective in this step. By relating to the concepts personals, you’ll reinforce informational recall. These associations and their responses lead to learners who resonate with the material and respond to calls to action and reinforced information better.
4. What is the most effective way to elaborate the concept?
The next step is to elaborate or model the information for the learner. It’s here that you’ll provide examples, models, or an active demonstration of the concept in order to make it concrete and to aid the learner in the information recall process. The more points of association we can provide, the easier it is for the learner to personalize the information in a way that makes it memorable.
5. How should I quiz for information recall in the video?
Ideally, the design of our previous steps has made it easy for learners to understand and recall salient details. So now we’re ready to provide learners an opportunity to test their understanding of the information presented. In order to practice information recall, we want to provide a quick, low-stakes review exercise that allows learners to check their understanding. For this, I recommend “low-tech” solutions, much like we’d use in a face-to-face workshop or training. Simply ask a few questions, add a pause to allow participants to reflect, and then provide the answer. It’s helpful to reinforce both the question and the answer in the video with text.
The Foundation of Effective Video Content
To make learning effective, whether you’re teaching online or in person, you need to find a way to engage with your learners and give them a reason to remember it. Video content is only effective when it’s fortified with associations and relationships to their own experiences.
Think of the way a search engine works - it uses optimization and keyword analysis to determine relevance. Learners work the same way. They absorb so much information but only develop informational recall if they can relate it to themselves and know why it’s important for them to retain it. The key to effective video content is knowing your learning goals and developing video content to achieve them directly, with your learners in mind.
You can curate video content towards that learning goal. Through these best practices and detailed planning steps, your effective video content will leave an impact on your learners.