Creating Effective eLearning Videos: Best Practices and Techniques

7 min read | May 15, 2024
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In an age where digital content is king, eLearning videos are a powerful educational tool. The visual appeal and accessible nature of videos have revolutionized learning, catering to a diverse, global audience. As the shift towards digital education accelerates, understanding how to craft effective training and eLearning videos is crucial.

From the animated explainer video to the interactive tutorial, eLearning videos come in many forms to meet modern learners' need for engaging, visually stimulating education. But to harness the full potential of eLearning videos, creators must navigate a maze of best practices and production techniques.

Explore the basics, must-haves, and nice-to-haves of creating compelling eLearning videos as we dive into the why's and how's of video-based learning, the intricacies of planning, preparation, content creation, and the tools that bring lessons to life.

Why Use eLearning Videos?

eLearning videos have become a pivotal tool for knowledge dissemination. A proven benefit supported by Cognitive Load Theory shows that learners have limited working memory resources, so presenting material in a video format allows for a more seamless and effective processing of content, leading to better retention and learning outcomes.

Moreover, eLearning videos give instructors a dynamic format in which they can present concepts in an engaging manner. In our increasingly digital world, the versatility of video-based instruction means that learning can be accessible, efficient, and appealing to a wide array of learners.

Benefits of eLearning Videos

Using eLearning videos in educational content offers a variety of benefits. Firstly, videos have been shown to foster greater information retention compared to traditional text-based content as they help learners more easily grasp complex concepts and effectively process the learning material.

Another key advantage is the capacity of eLearning videos to accommodate individual learning styles. Some people are more responsive to visual stimuli, which makes training videos ideal for their educational journey. Additionally, eLearning videos can be developed in a variety of formats to provide a tailored learning experience that satisfies distinct preferences and objectives.

eLearning videos also present visual representations that clarify and reinforce the learning material, offering learners a structured visual framework to build upon.

Importance of Visual Learning

Tapping into the power of visual learning through eLearning videos can bring transformative results in educational scenarios since approximately 65% of individuals exhibit a preference for visual learning. In addition to improved understanding and content retention, eLearning through training videos also plays a significant role in the effectiveness of training programs. For instance, a video demonstrating a particular skill or procedure provides a clear, step-by-step tutorial that learners can watch and rewatch until mastery is achieved. This not only contributes to a positive learning experience but also ensures that the intended learning outcomes are met with greater precision.

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Planning and Preparation

Before the first frame is shot, eLearning video creators must invest in careful planning and preparation. Establishing clear learning outcomes is at the heart of this process, ensuring that each video aligns with its educational objectives and stays on course.

Instead of attempting to cover too much ground in a single session, experts advise creating a series of shorter videos, with each one dedicated to a specific learning outcome. One common and efficient tactic that helps with this is the development of a storyboard. This acts as a blueprint to show the logical sequence and flow of content. It also helps anticipate and remedy potential issues in the narrative or instructional material before production commences. Storyboards also help inform the scripting process and keep it on track.

The preproduction stage is also the moment to define the video's goals and target audience to ensure their needs and the chosen formats are compatible.

Identifying Learning Objectives

Videos can quickly become overloaded with information. Identifying clear learning outcomes for each segment can lead to more focused and manageable content. Tailoring each instructional video to one or a limited set of objectives will help learners better retain information.

Defining Target Audience

Knowledge of the learners’ demographics, existing subject familiarity, and preferred learning styles informs every aspect of eLearning video creation, from the tone and complexity of the script to the chosen presentation style.

Interactive videos might appeal to a tech-savvy audience, while animated videos or screencast formats might be more suitable for visual learners. In addition, certain groups may benefit from subtitles for accessibility reasons or for learning in non-native languages.

Determining Video Length

Attention spans are limited, and eLearning video lengths should be adjusted accordingly. Best practices suggest keeping instructional videos within the 3-minute mark for optimal engagement. However, more complex subject matter may require longer durations. In such cases, videos should be structured into clear segments, each with a defined start and end point.

Introductions: 1-3 minutes

Overviews: 2-5 minutes

Deep dives: 5-15 minutes

These guidelines balance the need for brevity with the depth required to convey more complex information, prioritizing effective delivery over arbitrary duration goals.

Selecting the Right Video Format

Format choice for eLearning videos should be informed by learning objectives and audience analysis.

Screencasts and animated videos tend to fit procedural or technical instructional videos, whereas a talking-head format personalizes content for developmental courses.

Using the right format is a powerful way to elevate the learning experience, fostering engagement and ensuring that the content is not only absorbed but can also be applied by learners.

Regardless of the format you choose, ensuring videos are mobile-friendly for on-the-go learning is important, as well.

Creating Engaging Video Content

The key to creating effective eLearning videos is to make the learning process more dynamic and less monotonous compared to traditional methods.

Featuring subject matter experts can bring authenticity to eLearning videos, ensuring that the information is accurate, relatable, and presented in an appealing way. Strategically using graphics, animations, and interactive elements can also enhance video content in eLearning environments to create a fulfilling educational journey.

Incorporating Interactive Elements

Including interactive elements in eLearning videos can transform passive viewing into an engaging learning experience. Quizzes, clickable hotspots, and interactive exercises prompt learners to participate actively, fostering better knowledge retention and control over the learning material. These elements align with the concept of active learning, which is known to enhance memory and deepen understanding.

Gamification elements, such as points and badges, along with mid-lesson pauses for reflection or activities, also enrich the learning journey. By incorporating these elements, e-learning courses go beyond the standard watching and listening, encouraging learners to apply what they have learned.

Furthermore, online platforms enhance interactivity by facilitating Q&A calls and chat options, allowing for real-time feedback and engagement. This level of interaction keeps learners invested in the course, making the educational experience more effective and fulfilling.

Utilizing Animated Videos

Animated videos have proven to be an invaluable asset in eLearning, particularly when tackling complex or abstract subjects. Not only are these videos compelling for their fun and engaging nature, but during periods like the COVID-19 pandemic, they became a practical alternative to live filming. Their cost-effectiveness and the availability of user-friendly video creation tools have made animations an increasingly popular choice among eLearning professionals.

A variety of tools include pre-made graphics and templates that simplify the animation process, affording creators the ability to produce rich, engaging content without the need for specialized animation skills. As a result, animated videos have become a staple in eLearning.

Adding Subtitles and Transcripts

Providing subtitles and transcripts for eLearning videos is paramount. Not only do they make content accessible to learners with hearing impairments, but they also benefit those who prefer reading to auditory learning or are engaging with material in a non-native language. Audio descriptions for visual content can similarly aid learners with visual impairments, ensuring that everyone has an equitable opportunity to learn.

Captions and subtitles extend the accessibility of eLearning videos further, helping to reach a broader audience and catering to diverse learning preferences. As educational creators, it is our responsibility to anticipate the needs of all learners by including these features in our content and promoting an inclusive learning environment.

Incorporating Screencasts

Screencasts can provide invaluable visual guidance, allowing the viewers to follow along with a video recording of the instructor's screen as they navigate software or demonstrate a process. Voice narrations and graphic overlays can enhance the clarity and instructional value of screencasts, making them an ideal tool for step-by-step tutorials. This makes screencasts particularly effective for teaching the application of digital tools and software.

Tools for Video Production

Creating high-quality eLearning or training videos has never been more accessible, thanks to a variety of user-friendly video production tools. For creators with limited experience in video editing, software like Loom offers intuitive interfaces and robust features that make professional video creation achievable. For larger-scale video projects, AI video generators have proven to be invaluable by efficiently generating videos across a wide range of topics.

Software like Powtoon allow users without extensive design or technical experience to fabricate animated videos perfect for educational purposes while authoring tools like Trainably enable educators to record, edit, and publish their videos directly. Such integrated solutions save time and resources by eliminating the need for additional editing software.

Best Practices for Training and eLearning Videos

Remember: effective content delivery and learning are the ultimate goals of any eLearning video. Keeping the following aspects of instructional and training videos in mind will help ensure you create and deliver the best eLearning experience possible:

Video length: Tailor video duration to content complexity, never exceeding 15 minutes

Focus: One key subject per video; divide longer content into clear, concise segments

Accessibility: Include captions and voiceovers

Engagement: Features such as quizzes, hotspots, and animations assist learners in content retention and application

Remember, eLearning content that is not only accessible but also compatible across various devices and platforms, ensures a wider reach and inclusivity. Making content that everyone can access regardless of their individual needs solidifies the foundation of an effective eLearning program, and allows you to develop educational pathways that will help your organization reach its training and business goals.

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