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The Emerging Power of Interactive Video Learning

Without a doubt, the challenges being faced are unmatched in recent history. But we are adjusting – uncomfortably and at speed but adjusting. And learning, in one form or another,
is happening.
Swift adaptation needed

The traditional in-person events are obviously no longer possible, but other ways of learning are being found.

Initial efforts are driving the digitalisation of existing content. This is a brilliant start and, at the very least, the training continues - if in a different form. Training materials are digitalised, that is, reviewed and reconfigured to be suitable to deliver through digital channels, and distributed to learners. Learners, already primed and prepared for the learning in pre-COVID times, can pick up where they left off.

Digitalisation: a useful quick fix

While this digitalisation is a useful quick fix, it is important to keep in mind the limitations of this approach. Traditional training materials are designed for classroom learning, relying on the trainer-to-learner interaction and the immediacy of trainer feedback. The classroom also offers multiple opportunities throughout the training event to repeat and reinforce the learning, with the trainer adept at identifying who amongst the learning cohort may need extra support. Also, from the trainer's own observations, they are able to provide feedback and actionable follow-up learning to the training managers.

The best efforts at reconfiguring material will not be able to replicate this learning environment so, I think, we need to look to alternative methods of delivering learning to keep the training strategy on track and the learner's time and efforts optimised.


An Alternative: Video

Video is an obvious alternative. Making learning more visual has long been known to improve learning and learning retention. And video adds another dimension, making it real and human. The learner has a form of connection to the trainer which is lost in the straightforward digitalisation of training assets.

We will introduce you to interactive video in more detail later but first, let's look at the pros and cons of video and how it is used.

Video has already been adopted as a marketing tool by up to 85% of businesses and it is also effective with a proven link between video content and positive return on investment. There has also been an explosion in video services like YouTube and TikTok, with people consuming video like never before – in fact, nearly two hours a day.

And video has already been incorporated into training. It lifts content from the page, giving form to the key training points in ways plain words can't.

But video has its limitations. As any one-way communication medium, it can incite boredom, apathy or lack of engagement if it is over - or badly - deployed. And it cannot replace the trainer to learner interaction.

An additional problem is that it tends to be a standalone medium, so analytics other than simple viewing figures are difficult to extract and report on. The data that would be so valuable would be learner engagement, either during one video second by second, or over a learning series. Or comparing the relative success of videos across a platform.


And Then There's Interactive Video

Firstly, an explanation. Interactive video, in this context, provides bite-sized chunks of video learning interspersed with questions and quizzes. In effect, it is the start of a learning conversation. The learner then responds while watching the video, either clicking on a multiple-choice answer, or typing a freeform comment. The user can also record a video or audio response – particularly useful when trying out soft sales skills, for example.

And the learning conversation can continue with personal video feedback from trainer, giving guidance on how to improve, or asking further questions. The ability to build a conversation is one of this service's key strengths, especially in this current climate when we are so distant but still needing human connection.

Compare this to a standard video. Yes, the video is informative and additional explanation can be added in the form of text. The user watches, taking notes. If they have any queries, they send messages or emails and wait for a written response. There might be a test on the content at some point the user will get scores and feedback on that at some point. The follow-up would tend to be another broadcast video.

Interactive video offers a completely different experience, enriched by personal connection and communication. The energy of the learning event can be easily maintained in the follow-up conversations, comments acknowledged and acted upon, feedback given directly, tests and questions explained, and comprehension checked.

For the learner, answering questions in a video format demands a different level of understanding. If you can explain it, you know it. Gaps in knowledge can therefore be picked up and addressed quickly. The response is personal, tailored to the learner's level of understanding and their particular issues. Follow-up learning points can feed into the coaching or mentoring programme, providing useful, actionable material.

And, progressing on from trainer-learner interactions, this interactive video format can also be used powerfully to develop a peer-to-peer best practice platform, building on the excitement and engagement garnered through this medium.

This format tackles several problems at once: it increases user attention and engagement, and, because the learning is delivered in bite-sized chunks, and therefore repeated and reinforced, retention and implementation is improved. With learning delivered on mobile platforms too, it is also perfectly suited to how our lives are: learning can happen on the go and is always within reach. This proximity to learning can only encourage the learner and reinforces the learning culture ethos.

And you can know that interactive video increases attention, engagement and retention – in virtually real time - because of the analytics powerhouse that sits behind it. It is also important to know that this is not a standalone system. It is integrated into a client's LMS, so there are no struggles in trying to bring together differing datasets and formats. Pre-set KPIs, such as course completion, quiz scores, video views and user engagement, can all be reported and acted on in a timely manner.

This technology, considering the prevalence of smartphones, can bring training to life in the workplace. I mentioned earlier about the learner responding to the trainer by video, demonstrating soft sales skills. We could also see this played out on the shop floor, with feedback by video from the customer rather than the trainer.

In fact, this technology can be powerfully applied to gathering customer testimonials both building trust and authenticity and feeding back to the sales function for training if needed.


The immediate challenge

The task in hand is of course to maintain learning by adapting existing systems. The need to keep users engaged is more important now than ever. We can use existing tools, people and knowledge and we will pull through. But maybe, there's more. By adding the power of interactive video to the range of available options, knowledge is retained and implemented, skills embedded, and learning is on a more solid technological footing emerging from the crisis.

This too shall pass

We're all finding our inner Stoic and keeping on keeping on. But this crisis also offers us an opportunity for reflection, to assess what we are doing well, and not so well, and what systems and processes we should have perhaps abandoned long ago.

When we come out the other side, what will the world look like? There are some certainties. The post-COVID-19 world will be financially constrained, and resource stretched. Greater efficiencies, more bang for the learning buck will be demanded of us, and we will need to look for new ways to optimise the training on offer.

The arguments we have set out here for interactive video will hold well into the future. It is a gentle introduction to digital learning. But, I strongly suggest, we will need to go further. Everything is up for discussion. We have to scrutinise and evaluate learning strategies and we have to scrutinise and evaluate learning delivery mechanisms: how do we improve operational efficiencies and how do we improve return on investment?

As a learning technologies business, of course we're going to say that you need to digitalise, that you need to use digital tools and interactive video to stay relevant, if not ahead of the curve. Of course we would.

And yet the last few weeks have shown up the strangest dichotomy: one the one hand the utter reliance on technology, and on the other, the under-utilisation of it in key business operations, training being one of them.

In order to future-proof learning – whatever the future holds – and in order to be on that solid footing, I believe a move to digital learning tools, integrated into existing learning systems and with virtually real time analytics is a way forward, if not the only way.


03.04.2020

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