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How can we increase engagement in video training?

1st Oct 2013
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Engajer's Michael Castellano analyses the current experience to see where we can make improvements to increase engagement.

For decades now, training professionals and educators have embraced the use of video in the teaching process, using video to enhance the learning experience, particularly for younger audiences. Over the past several years, consumers have fully embraced digital video for entertainment and learning: YouTube gets more than one billion unique visitors each month, and the TED Talks idea-sharing digital video series has been viewed more than a billion times.

Consumer research shows that video is a persuasive medium, with 52% of surveyed consumers reporting that viewing a product video made them more confident about making a purchase. On the training and development front, SHRM predicts that the mobile learning trend will continue to gain momentum, delivering flexible learning opportunities that use social media platforms as well as Web 2.0 programmes.

The move toward incorporating mobile video and using social media in training and development makes sense because it helps companies contain training costs whilst delivering compelling content to geographically dispersed workforces on platforms they can readily access. But does it provide the depth and interaction that makes true engagement and deeper learning possible?

As currently delivered to workforces en masse, digital video learning content is, by necessity, one-size-fits-all. Companies break content down by department or employee category and supplement modules with job-specific presentations, but typically, all employees who perform the same work receive the exact same training in the exact same order.

Since they are required to address a broad audience, training and development professionals are limited in their customisation capabilities with standard digital video learning platforms. They may also be challenged with an inability to get meaningful feedback on training modules, gauge programme effectiveness or even track who has completed training and who hasn’t.

"We’ve allowed our conversations to become a mile wide but only an inch deep by removing the interactive element and focusing on the shallow common denominator."

Perhaps it’s time to rethink how we deliver training content via mobile video. At its best, person-to-person communication and teacher-to-student interactions enable sharing and in-depth exploration of the topics that interest the participants. In a way, we’ve lost something crucial in our rush to embrace mass communication via global video distribution and social networking: We’ve allowed our conversations to become a mile wide but only an inch deep by removing the interactive element and focusing on the shallow common denominator.

It doesn’t have to be that way, and we don’t have to discard the many benefits of social networking and digital video delivery to regain what we’ve lost. Instead, we must reimagine how we use these technologies, making our video communication strategies more interactive and personalised to encourage in-depth exploration and deeper engagement.

We can start by acknowledging that everyone has unique personal pathways of interest by designing an approach that capitalises on this instead of treating everyone as if we’re all the same. What would a new digital training video strategy look like? The beauty of it is that it wouldn’t require training professionals to reinvent the wheel: Instead, they can break existing modules down into bite-sized chunks and present it to learners as a smorgasbord – an interactive feast that allows the learner to choose the order in which they view topics. This engages them by allowing them to zero in on what interests them the most.

A design that empowers learners to select their own pathway not only provides them with choices, it delivers vital information to the presenter – data that enables presenters to gauge interest in topics, assess viewer responses to the choices presented and track which learners complete specific modules. The results are greater levels of interaction and incredibly valuable data. But more importantly, this type of approach can restore something precious that has been lost along the way: true engagement and deeper learning.

Michael Castellano is founder and CEO of engajer, a disruptive technology platform that uniquely blends interactive video and dynamic qualifying analytics to engage viewers more deeply in products, services and ideas by allowing them to choose their own pathway of interest

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