Purnima Valiathan

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Video-based Learning Benefits

Why learning videos work

As per Cisco Systems, 84% of internet traffic will be video content by 2018. [SOURCE: http://elearningindustry.com/5-tips-create-engaging-video-based-learning]


What does this mean for instructional designers? Will videos replace traditional interactive E-Learning, or will they merely supplement these? We don’t know that yet, but there is a key message in this for all L & D professionals – we will have to include some video-based content in our E-Learning solutions. And identifying that piece of content must form part of our Analysis & Design process. How do you figure out which content piece will fit best in a video format? Based on what educationists and educational technologists are writing about videos, I infer that the answer  lies in the features that make a video appealing to its viewers. These features are:


  • Personalization: Videos by default adopt a narrative and informal style of rendering content. This makes it seem more personal and less formal than traditional E-Learning modules that progress from one screen to another. Personalization is also enhanced when the expert himself/herself is the presenter of the content in the video. So, if you have the expert handy, include a short video that has the expert speak on the concept or task.


  • Concretization: Video is by default a visual medium. This feature of videos can be exploited to present abstract concepts in a manner that may be easily understood. Few things make an abstract concept clearer than seeing how it works in real life – for instance demonstrating scientific principles as they manifest in the real world as against a verbal/stated example in an E-Learning module or a textbook chapter. Or, the working of a complex machine, such as an industrial chiller as against depicting a process diagram in an E-Learning Course. So, if there are tangible workplace-tasks include these as videos.


  • Emotional Cognition: When you see videos with real people (and not silhouettes and illustrations) it has a different effect on you. The context is no longer make-believe, and the general mood of the person (persons) in the video is caught by you through the presence of something called mirror neurons in your brain. So, if you watch the video of a charged-up team, it is likely that you too will get charged up. Or, if you watch the video being presented by an expert with great passion for the subject, chances are you too will experience a similar feeling. Think of movies that you moved you or cracked you up, and you will understand this better. For instance, you could capture teamwork Dos and Don’ts through a video. Food for thought – why do you think that in political campaigns, an attempt is made to pair your own candidate with positive emotional words, and the opposing candidate with negative emotional words?


  • Multi-sensory Approach: Videos include text, moving images and audio – forcing you to engage the physiological information processing system, making you more alert and attentive. So, if you think you have boring content, consider creating a short video that works as positive emotional stimuli.


  • Short Learning Bytes: Since you need to take into account bandwidth and device features, by default, you will keep video-based learning short – typically, under six minutes in length. This automatically ensures that the working memory limitations are addressed, and the cognitive load kept to a minimum. Pick out the main concepts and key messages and present these as videos.



Note: You do have TED talks that run up to 30 minutes, but these are more of presentation videos, than learning videos, and there is an assumption that the viewers are intrinsically motivated.




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