Engaging eLearning series: 4/5 Engage more users with video

A good video can go a long way to helping someone learn a complex task or set of instructions. Think of something like origami. There are printed guides that show step by step, but its sometimes hard to put it in context of the piece of paper sat in front of you and its easy to make a mistake. Whereas by watching a video of someone showing you step by step process, you can more easily see where you might be going wrong because you can relate easier to a 3D object that something printed on a page.

Making a video is now easier than ever too! And providing you have something to record the video with in the first place, free to use software is plentiful and usually well documented and easy to use.

Equipment

If you have a modern smartphone or tablet, chances are it shoots at current HD standards (1080p) or at least 720p which is fine. Otherwise the rise of action cameras such as the GoPro has driven costs down for cameras that can capture high quality video with literally one click of a button. If you have something like this then great, if not then you can buy something for around £100 that will do the job.

The next most important thing on the list is a decent microphone. Again if you have a modern smart device and the environment is good (see below) then your probably good to go! Otherwise again you can buy a fairly good microphone that connects to your smart device or camcorder for less than £100. Generally the more you spend here, the better the quality will be.

Editing can be a simple process with the right software. Depending on your experience you might have access to more professional software like Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects (you can use Lynda.com for support using these), otherwise there’s free audio and video editing software such as Windows Movie Maker for Windows desktop computers, iMovie for Mac and iOS devices and Audacity for audio only recordings.

Environment

This is probably the most underestimated part of the process in my experience as it can make or break a good quality video. Especially if your on a tight budget but require something like looks more professional. Things to think about include:

  • Background clutter such as messy office space and anything not relevant to the video should be removed. Such as when creating a dental procedure video, you want it to look professional and clean and uncluttered. But if your not showing something like a procedure and just talking then a clean background such as a blank wall is fine. You could maybe sit close to a window that has an elegant background. As long as theres not too much going on thats distracting.
  • Background noises such as others talking in the same room that are out of shot, phones going off, mouse clicks.
  • Lighting is extremely important to get right. Soft lighting is best as you don’t want a bright lam on your face, creating sharp shadows everywhere (unless your doing something for halloween!). You also want to avoid recording in a too dimly lit room as the camera will try to compensate for this and when you come to edit you’ll notice the video will be a grainy noisy of RGB pixels. You can fix this to an extent in editing but its just easier to get it right from the beginning.
  • Avoid squeaky chairs and bangs from neighbouring doors. If your in a busy area, try to let others know around you the time you will be recording and even pace signs around the area if need be.

One last tip, get everyone to turn their phones off! Else you risk capturing signal noise (blips in audio) whenever a phone thats in the vicinity of the audio device gets a text or call. And you wont notice it until you sit down to edit and there’s very little you can do about it! Its easier to just re-record.

Preparation

Try not to look to serious as users will take this negatively and it can make learning difficult. Also try to at least remember key bullet points for your talk. Its generally not best to read something word for word as it doesn’t sound natural. But you can tape some reminders next to the camera or monitor. This will then make it look like your talking to the person watching the video which might be what you want anyway. The best way to practise is through doing. Don’t expect to be able to do it all in one take. You can do a few test runs with the camera redoing, knowing that you can easily delete them after. You could also record it in chunks, stop in between and stitch the clips together in editing.

Make Video Interactive

Making video interactive just requires a bit of creativity and consideration when planning the video but can also easily be included in editing. Maybe your teaching something and you’ve outlined a scenario, you could provide a question and ask the user to pause the video and spend time thinking about the answer or how they would approach the issue, then when pressing play again you go into detail about the answer and to why. You could even pre-empt certain incorrect scenarios and explain why they’re wrong. You could also advise certain areas they explore in the eLearning package depending on the answers they might have given.

Next blog post in this series: 5/5 Add fun gaming elements

Or choose from this series:

1/5 Build a compelling visual experience

2/5 Add meaningful interactions

3/5 Let learners pull content

4/5 Engage more users with video

5/5 Add fun gaming elements

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