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Do We Love Instructional Video, or Not?

Using video to deliver (all or part of) instruction can be a) great, b) practical, c) expensive, d) time-consuming, or e) deadly. Here are some thoughts about when to use it (or not).

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Photo © Andreas Praefcke

When does it make sense to provide instructional videos?

Here are some reasons to provide instructional videos. They range from “this is an okay idea” to “how else would we do this?”

  • Motion. When learners must have sound, visuals, and especially motion to learn to do something (and when it’s more practical to use a recording vs. showing how to do something live)
  • Consistency. When your program must be delivered the same way every time
  • Expertise. When sharing a great lecture by a respected expert is more convenient (or possible) via video—teach once, share many
  • Emotions. Video can help to tell a story in a way that engages the heart (the affective domain).
  • Personalized Learning. When learners benefit from greater control—by skipping content they already know or by repeating sections for additional support or deeper learning
  • Spaced Practice. When video makes it possible to learn in smaller segments, over time, vs. trying to cram 8 hours of learning into a single day (Spaced practice has been shown to increase learning, but it is often impractical to organize with live instructors in organizational settings.)
  • Availability. When sharing someone important to your learners who would otherwise not be available, for example: a message from the CEO, a well-respected (busy) expert, or a role model for change
  • Reaching a Wider Audience. When your learners are geographically dispersed, and video is easier or less expensive to share than other media (including local instructors)

When does it make sense to avoid using instructional videos?

And here are some reasons not to use video, or at least, not to use too much video.

  • It’s Just a Talking Head. Unless there is a compelling reason to watch someone give a lecture (for example, the specific person is important to the learners or body language is essential to understanding the message), provide a transcript or audio file instead.
  • Audience Preference. Video presentations can sometimes be slow. If your learners are concerned about time or easily distracted, text and images or podcasts may be a practical alternative.
  • Avoid Badness. Recording bad lectures just makes it possible to subject more people to bad lectures. Don’t be tempted; just say no.
  • Avoid Clichés. Don’t make parody-inspiring videos, full of earnestness and video effects that were added in “just because they were possible.”
  • Overkill. Absent a compelling reason, don’t subject your learners to long video segments. Audiences and uses will vary, but many recommend 2- to 5-minute segments, broken up by opportunities for practice, discussion, or other opportunities for learner engagement.

When deciding whether to use video, the answer does not have to be all or nothing. If you take a look at the Khan Academy, for example, you can find excellent use of video as part of various online modules, with short lectures or explanations supporting text and problem-solving activities.

You can also create and use video with varying levels of professional production, depending on the circumstances and implementation concerns. Broadcast quality video can be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to create, but screen-capture tools with narration, photojournalistic approaches, and videos produced by amateurs can play a respected role in instructional programs.


Post | Ideas, Tips, and Resources for Using Video in Your Online Training

Site | Khan Academy

Photo | Hollywood El Capitan Marquee, Creative Commons CC-BY 3.0

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