Why (and how) to make video work for your elearning

Video for learning isn’t new. Training videos have been around for decades, and video within online learning for almost as long. But what is possible – and expected – has changed, and is continuing to challenge expectations. Let’s look at some video learning best practice.

A polished-but-dull monologue from the CEO to open an elearning course will no longer cut the mustard. Your audience expects more! If you aren’t pushing for more, from your money and time, you’re wasting your investment. Daunting? Maybe. But it’s also exciting – whether you’re a global business with money to spend or a one-man band with nothing more than a smartphone, you can bring movie magic to your content and leave a lasting impression for the right reasons.


Still from the video-based Life Saver game: see Elearning Superstars review here

Why is video still such a hot topic?

Learning professionals worldwide have ranked video as a hot topic every year since 2014, when Don Taylor first ran the Global Sentiment Survey. It’s dropped down the table a bit, precisely because it’s no longer an exciting, emerging trend, but rather an expected part of our L&D repertoire.

Of course it’s entirely possible to achieve great content without video. But in the right situation with the right approach, there are some things that video can do really, really well.

  • Convey a lot in very little time. Just look at the success of ultra-short videos on apps like Instagram, or how much useful information Brain Candy shares in each 60 Second Tip video.
  • Storytelling. Take John Lewis, whose Christmas TV adverts have spurred numerous major brands to use their festive airtime to engage consumers through emotive storytelling, rather than aggressive sales pitches. See some best practice tips.
  • Behavior, emotion and culture. These things and their nuances are often easier to convey on film than in writing. This module on unconscious bias is a good example using animated video.

No budget? No problem.

Want to incorporate video content without spending a penny? Take advantage of other people’s efforts! Link to or embed clips from the Internet, or your organization’s internal video library.

You can create bespoke content without flashing the cash, too. Your organization will be full of people with stories to tell and advice and experience to share. No need for scripts or studios – just whip out your smartphone and get them talking.

A few tips:

  • If you have money to spare, spend it on a professional interviewer, not a scriptwriter.
  • When filming senior leaders, capture personal stories, not corporate messaging.
  • Do a few takes, each time helping your subject drill down to the essence of their story.

Is shorter always better?

Longer length videos sometimes work really well, and these might often be acted drama pieces. The key is to know when they’ll really add value – usually when tackling emotive subjects or those that touch on different perspectives or the consequences of different behaviors.

It is possible to do this type of video well without engaging the professionals, but since both scriptwriting and acting are skills that not everyone has, the DIY approach can be risky. It’s always worth working with a professional agency if you can.

You can squeeze more value from professionally-produced drama by breaking it up into episodes, layering in interactions and adding branching functionality to let users play out different scenarios.

You can see from this example how the Open University spliced publicly available video clips of Bill Clinton, Spartacus and a rugby game with polls that question people’s stance on lying.


Next steps

Stephanie Karaolis, part of Elucidat’s expert academy team, has created some fantastic Elucidat Masterclass topics. You might like the ones she’s created on 5 ways to use video and storytelling. In fact, you’ll find a whole host of expert-created topics available, packed with tips, in-depth guides and demos.

Click here to find out more about Elucidat’s Masterclass HQ or use the form below to contact our Academy team directly.

Contact Elucidat’s Academy Team


Related: Find out why video is one of our big predictions for this year, and what else made the list.