Some studies claim that the adult attention span has become shorter than that of a goldfish, which is only about 8 seconds long. Whether or not this measurement is accurate, the message is that the ability to stay actively focused on anything is a challenge for most learners. If you add typical distractions of daily life, such as emails dinging, chat windows popping up, and colleagues stopping by to chat, your training is up against some serious competition!
Video-based learning has the potential to make your training products memorable and engaging. However, in order to reap the benefits of this type of learning, videos must be short and interactive.
So, what are some things that you can do to make your training videos captivating? First, you should combat the learner’s short attention span by “chunking” videos into small pieces, rather than putting multiple topics into one long segment. Asking your learner to watch a video for 2 minutes is much more doable than having the learners invest more than 10 minutes of their time. Putting each learning objective into a discrete video segment allows the learner to take a break without missing any of the content.
Video-based learning demands high-quality – anything that isn’t polished will distract the learner. When recording professional actors, videographer must ensure that the person is well-lit, the sound quality is high, and the environment is free of any background distractions. Choosing the right talent is also important to making your video appear polished. Even someone who is typically animated and outgoing may shrink up in front of the camera. Give your actor time to acclimate to the setting, practice, and watch back the performance to liven up their delivery of the material.
As you create your instructional videos, be sure to add elements of interactivity. For example, you may have the learner watch a clip, and then, answer a question or complete a simulation based on the video segment. Simulations are especially useful if the video features a process or is very technical in nature. By going into the system and applying the skill they just watched in the video, will help learners internalize the content and, as a result, transfer that new skill to the job.
In post-production of a video, be aware of how you arrange the screen’s “real estate.” A white background with limited text and graphics will keep the learner focused. Overpopulating your screen with animations and text is distracting to the learner. Consider the way text is presented on screen versus how it is spoken in your voiceover narration. If the text does not sync with what is being said, the learner’s mind is pulled in too many directions to focus on the point.
Lastly, take time to do your research and plan your video shoot. Watch videos on YouTube to determine the most appropriate style for your specific content. For example, while “talking heads” or “motion graphics” may work just fine for some types of content, other videos may benefit from role plays, avatars, and on-screen interactions. Regardless of the type of video you will be creating, always survey the setting you will produce your video in, and do a test shot to ensure it is not too noisy or dark. Then, storyboard in detail all actions, and how you want to integrate text and animations on the screen. Remember, while, video-based learning is much more effective than the click-through courses, producing truly valuable video requires much more planning than developing a click and read eLearning materials; therefore, instructional designers should consider building extra time during the design and development phases to ensure accuracy, relevancy, and quality of the training experience.