Paul Clothier recently wrote a thought-provoking article for Learning Solutions magazine called Interactive Video: The Next Big Thing in Mobile. The article is worth checking out, if only for the tasty examples he provides – they definitely ping my “Oooh, Shiny!” meter.
The idea is video with embedded links to other video, providing a less disjointed approach to creating modules along the line of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books my kids enjoyed so much.
I guess, though, that after I ooh and ah over the terrific production values in the sample videos, I’m feeling a little curmudgeony about the whole thing. Clothier quotes impressive statistics to make his point that people really like learning from video – but those statistics don’t actually deal with WHAT all those people are learning, or how long they retain it. I can tell you from personal experience that YouTube has driven home for me the point that cats do a whole lot of amusing things. And, ok, I’ve written in this space before about how much I appreciate technical how-to videos when I’m trying to learn things like how to upgrade a computer.
But once we get past the glitz, we have to concede that videos, no matter how beautiful or interactive, have the same basic attributes of every other form of canned presentation. They can present information, and hence raise awareness. If they are very good, they may cause viewers to consider a new way of looking at the material.
- They don’t offer a way for viewers to ask questions about how the information applies in the slightly different circumstances they may face on the job
- They don’t offer an opportunity to practice and hence develop skill in applying the information presented.
- They are terrible as reference resources, because there’s no easy way to search for or flip to the part of the presentation which contains the information you need.
It’s nice when learners describe our presentations as “engaging.” But unless we’re simply checking compliance boxes to register that yes, our people have been exposed to the stuff they are supposed to know, presenting information is just the beginning of the training process.
So I’d prefer not to blow my budget on beautiful video. Especially now, while learners’ bandwidth is iffy, but come the day that everybody can watch anything anywhere, I’m still going to feel the same way! It takes a lot of time and money to produce excellent linear video, and undoubtedly more to do excellent hyper video.
Better to present in some cheaper, lower tech way, and spend that extra money freeing up my skilled performers to coach the ones who need to come up that ladder in exercises which require the learners to reflect on the information and apply it to a near work situation. Additionally, I’d like to fund some follow-up with their managers, so we can monitor whether their behavior is changing in the way our training is trying to achieve.
Because in the end, that’s the metric that matters. How much our learners enjoy or admire the beauty of our training just isn’t as important as how the entire training experience them changes their performance on the job.