Everything is digital these days; payments, books, movies, music – you name it. Education is no exception!
Today, watching videos has become one of the most common ways to acquire new knowledge. Whether it is learning to cook a new recipe, changing the tires on your car or getting better at Excel; there is always a video to guide you through it.
As the phenomenon of eLearning has exploded in popularity more actors have entered the arena, offering more thorough and serious courses on all sorts of topics. Skillshare, Lynda and Udemy are just a few examples of sites in this category.
Recent studies show that the so-called Generation Z is more or less dependant on video courses in their education.
In other words: now might be the perfect time to incorporate eLearning into your own business.
This versatile and easy-to-access format is useful both in external and internal communication. Onboarding a new colleague? Let them take your company’s dedicated onboarding course! Not only will this allow your new employee to watch it multiple times if needed, you also avoid the most basic FAQs and can instead take the time to answer more specific concerns.
Likewise, it can also be utilised when launching a new service, product or application. Make sure your users get the best start possible by providing them with videos that thoroughly explores every nook and cranny of your services.
Given that you have a subject to teach and an audience to educate, there are a few things you can consider in order to maximise engagement and learning.
These are five things we believe you should know before starting your eLearning class.
Introduction and purpose
Few things are as frustrating as being fed information without knowing the context. It just becomes words that the recipient has to puzzle together in real time while also trying to stay focused. Even if everyone attending is familiar with the subject, it is rarely a good idea to start off without a proper introduction.
Start off by explaining the purpose of the class and what you expect the attendees to have learned when it is over.
Related to this, you should also make clear how advanced the teachings are going to be and if there are any prerequisites to understanding the class. It can also be a good idea to give a short run-through of how the course is structured, ie. what will be taught and in what order.
Basically it comes down to preparing the attendees in the best way possible so that they can get right into learning without the fear of missing out.
Don't go fast. Go smart.
When teaching and talking about a well known (and maybe near and dear subject) it’s easy to get carried away with everything you want to say.
Adding those extra anecdotes and dwelling on every detail in order to really hammer in your point might seem like a good idea, but for the student it comes across as exhausting and intimidating.
So what can you do to avoid this? First of all, the most crucial thing is to go through your script with a critical eye, removing anything that isn’t completely necessary to make your point. Don’t be afraid to “kill your darlings“, as this process ensures that your script becomes more efficient.
It is rare to edit scripts to the point of failure, but if you do feel insecure about what to remove and what to keep: try out the script on a selected group of people to see if they can follow along. Not only do you get a chance to practice the lecture but you also get feedback on which parts work and which parts don’t.
Another way to cut down the density of your lecture is to split it up into multiple parts. As anyone who’s been scrolling through Netflix trying to find something to watch can assert to, it is easy to pass on a longer movie in favour of binging multiple (shorter) episodes of a TV series.
The point is: videos that are too long are often cumbersome to watch. Your viewers are probably watching it in smaller chunks of time anyway, and they might have difficulties finding specific subject points that they’re interested in, because of the long run-time.
By dividing longer videos into shorter bite-sized clips, you as a teacher can ensure that the lectures are accessible and information dense.
Also, by presenting multiple shorter episodes, students can better keep track of their progress. It also creates a feeling that they’re blazing through the course – maintaining motivation and engagement in the process.
Choose your tools wisely
It is important that you feel comfortable with the tools you’ve chosen to present the course. Even if video is helpful in the way that you can edit and do re-shoots to cover up mistakes; it is still annoying for a student when technological hiccups occur time and time again.
Whether you choose to film a live lecture with your presentation in the same frame or picture-in-picture, make sure that the slides sync up with your current talking points.
Maybe you’ve got interactive elements that pop-up on the screen? These should also be examined to make sure they work.
If there are any accessories the attendees need to have in order to finish the lecture (like a PDF file), always double check that url:s and download links are up-to-date and working.
We don’t need to tell you the infuriating feeling of being met with an “Error 404”… Right?
Simply put, make sure that there is no risk the technology can hinder your process. Being well prepared means you can focus more on your main objective — teaching.
As mentioned briefly in the segment about editing your scripts: you should make a habit of trying out your course and lectures before you “go live”.
Feedback is as always a great tool to improve on your weaknesses and further bulk up your strengths. A way to make this process more manageable is to sketch up your course as a storyboard.
This way you get a great overview and can pinpoint those lectures you are less confident with and those you feel are fine. As the test and feedback loop goes on you might even notice that maybe it isn’t an individual lecture in itself that is lacking, but when and where it is presented.
Having the storyboard available you can quickly shuffle and reorganise individual parts in order to create a more efficient course. Storyboarding is also helpful in its way of providing an overview of the course’s timeline.
Is there an understandable line of argument throughout the classes? Does is make sense to learn about X before Y to understand Z? Contemplating these things helps to build a winning structure of your lectures.
Preparations is king, and with a storyboard you can make sure that your lectures are relevant, informative and easy to follow.
Check out our episode on Storyboarding
Evaluation and reflection
Your videos are done – great! You’ve started using them – even greater!
However, no matter how much you’ve prepared, there is always room to improve and re-new. What was hot off the presses yesterday can be completely irrelevant tomorrow, so it’s important to keep up in order to keep your lectures interesting.
The evaluation process can look very different and everyone has their personal preferences. But one of the most telling ways to see if you have succeeded with your course is to see if people are using the information that you’ve taught them.
Are the new employees finding their way around the office? Great!
Do costumers ask for minor things about your app that you know you covered in one of your lectures? Maybe then it’s time to look over that part one more time.
The lesson (ha!) is to never stay satisfied once you notice that things can improve. Video is easier than ever to produce, so re-thinking and re-doing can be quick, and will definitely be worth it in the long run.
If you have any questions, or just would like to acquire some new tips and tricks when it comes to video making, make sure to check out our ongoing video course “How To”; where we talk about all things related to video communication.