There’s a reason why videos will clog up an already brimming memory card so much faster than text documents – it’s all about the layers. You’ve got a flowing visual medium (that can also contain still images), audio to accompany it and text elements to boot. Though we may just categorize it as “video content,” each video you watch is really a multimedia presentation.
What does this mean for instructional designers looking to improve learner engagement, info retention, info accessibility and cost-effectiveness? Well, it means they should use video content whenever possible, of course! Especially in the current media consumption climate, videos are becoming more relevant than ever. I have eight irrefutable reasons to back this up. Let’s start with some fresh stats, shall we?
1. Video Learning Speaks the Modern Learner’s Language
On YouTube alone, users watch an average of approximately five billion videos every single day. The same source I just linked (Android Authority) reports that 500 hours of content are uploaded to this platform every sixty seconds. See the potential here? By packaging your content in video format, you’re speaking the language of a staggering amount of information consumers – almost a quarter of the entire planet. And that’s just YouTube…
Facebook is an even greater proving ground for video content, considering that it hosts text posts, links and images in the same environment for videos to compete against. Still, it’s no contest – videos on this social media giant are shared a dozen times more than text posts and links put together.
What does this data tell us? Video content is more engaging, shareable, and memorable. It makes a greater impact on people than text or still images. It is the adopted “language” of the modern information consumer. If you want to reach an audience in an impactful way, you have to speak their language.
2. Video Learning Enhances Clarity
I could pull every study in the literature to compare user stats between different mediums, but some things are just unquantifiable. For example, the difference between reading your way through a stepwise process versus simply being shown.
Let’s say you are developing training material that will teach new team members how to navigate the company’s CRM (customer relationship management) system. If you were to lay this out in a text document, it would be hard to avoid creating a monstrous, 60-step list with plenty of wordy workarounds to describe what could just be viewed in a video. “Now click on this link in the upper-right hand corner between that button and this…” blah blah blah.
The point here is that video content greatly enhances clarity in almost every situation. If you could physically see how to navigate the CRM, it would be just like looking over the shoulder of the trained professional. It’s like the difference between a GPS navigator and a paper map. In the same way that a GPS visually guides you through unknown territory, video content helps you to achieve unmistakably clear instructional materials.
3. Video Learning Maximizes Engagement
For better or worse, the average attention span is being hacked off from both ends. As avid consumers of information, often from three or more sources at once, we are constantly splitting our attention and shifting from one source to another. For this reason, the most engaging video content features rapidly changing imagery and ideas. To best approach the shrinking attention span, we have to mirror the world that created it. This is one very important way in which video content maximizes engagement.
That’s great in terms of “portion control,” but how does video content address different learning styles? Oh, wait! Learning styles aren’t real…or are they? Honestly, who cares. A quality learning video will appeal to a variety of our senses as well as hit on several of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences.
See where this is going? Of all the presentation mediums that trainers commonly use – text documents, traditional classroom-style presentations, and so on – video is the most all-encompassing in terms of engaging a learner in a variety of ways. It’s a multisensory experience that casts the “widest” net for learners of all types. When being instructed via video, you can see, hear and physically practice what’s being demonstrated.
You might be thinking, “Well, you can get all of that from the traditional classroom setting, can’t you?” That’s true, but the classroom setting leaves much to be desired in terms of the on-demand accessibility of video, which I’m about to cover in two seconds.
4. Video Learning Maintains High Accessibility Levels
You can’t put a classroom-style lecture in your pocket to be used when you’re on the go. You can’t replay an in-person lecture whenever you want, and you certainly can’t share it with someone who wasn’t in the building. This is why video content trumps in-person lectures – for starters.
Video content allows you to learn while you complete other tasks. It can be accessed at any time. For example, you can review a video immediately before a meeting to brush up on your (or someone else’s) presentation material. It’s processed 60,000 times faster than text, according to a really interesting blog post authored by Liraz Margalit, Ph.D entitled “Video vs Text: The Brain Perspective.”
Most relevantly, video content is accessible on multiple devices. Most of us have a phone, PC or tablet within five feet of us for the entire day. We can quickly access video content, digest a few minutes, switch devices and continue based on our environment. This affords instructional designers a whole lot of freedom when developing content; thanks to the unparalleled accessibility of video content, they don’t have to feel like they have a single 40-minute window to make their mark.
Jeez, that’s like fifteen reasons in one! See what I mean about accessibility? Given that you don’t have to compromise one iota on quality, video content is simply unmatched in this domain. Increased cost has to be the catch, right? Wrong.
5. Video Learning Shrinks Costs
Consider the costs factored into conventional training – especially for larger companies. In many cases, training teams have to shuttle people from across the country, usually including lodging
and food for these travelers. Sometimes, they have to pay for an off-site venue, event planning, food catering, and so forth. Every single one of these expenses is easily circumvented with video
content, allowing you to focus on the only metric that matters: effectiveness.
Take IBM for example. They reported that, after switching about half of their training methods from traditional delivery to eLearning, they saved about $285 million dollars per year! Microsoft also chimed in, reporting that their per-person cost of training plummeted from over 300 bucks an hour to a paltry 17 dollars.
6. Video Learning is Highly Consistent Throughout Departments
The point about cost-effectiveness kind of goes hand in hand with consistency. When everyone being trained or educated has access to the same video content, your training doesn’t have to worry about consistency. In traditional settings, where training departments may distribute information through an ever-shifting pool of on-site trainers, there’s much more room for varying interpretations because of different training styles and presentation material.
Growing companies especially have a problem with this. In some instances, it’s okay to encourage a little autonomy when it comes to applying learned concepts, but when it comes to some matters, even the tiniest misinterpretation can wreak havoc when it spreads far enough into the company. See how video can remedy this? It enforces a perfectly uniform understanding across the board. Also, when misunderstandings do arise, video can be referred back to much more readily than lecture material.
7. Video Learning Allows for Easy Sharing and Collaboration
Let’s branch out from your training team for just a bit. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just “send” other departments and companies your training material without a ton of hassle? Just embed the video in an email, and you’re done.
Specifically, I’m referring to other departments and companies that can facilitate your trainee’s roles. Third-party vendors who distribute your company’s products, for example, can be sent the training video for inspiration to add to their own sales processes, training strategy and so forth.
Internally, you can share video training material on company messaging/media platforms, via email and so forth. The recipient can easily pick and choose the most relevant snippets and re-package the video to present to their own teams in a way more relevant to their departmental responsibilities. Everybody wins!
8. Video Learning is Magnetic!
Not all trainings, of course, are completely mandatory. Some trainers don’t have a captive audience; they have to sell people on their services just like a digital marketer promoting a site and/or product. This means that you need to actually care about your CTR (click-through rate), which represents the percentage of people who, after seeing your email, proceeded to click on your “sign me up” or “learn more” button.
Thankfully, even the mention of the word “video” in the subject heading can improve CTR by a staggering 65%. The statistics help, but you can test this effect on yourself in a very mundane and common sense kind of way. Just imagine you’re on your way to training. How would you feel if you knew it would involve a lot of reading and listening to a lecturer? Conversely, how would you feel if the training team said it’s completely video-based?
People just like videos more. The end.
My Facebook Group is a great place to add your questions and engage with other instructional designers on different topics related to instructional design, so jump on in and join the conversation.