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Video in E- learning: Friend or foe?
People creating e-learning have had to answer the question repeatedly – should I use videos and do they work? The answer is – it depends.

Videos were the pre-cursors to e-learning in many ways. They have remained part of the self-learning and distance learning scenario, changing and adapting themselves – from being standalone pieces, to being embedded in courseware, to direct streaming video of classes to user-generated videos hosted on YouTube and similar spaces.
A lot of the video used today is embedded into courses built in Flash and similar technologies. Here are the possibilities and limitations of using video in this mode:
  • Does the content need video? The aim is always to optimize use of the medium. Video works when there are procedures to be demonstrated, complex sequence of tasks, or subtle subjective situations such as a customer’s facial expression and body language when they are disappointed. If content such as this is part of your program, its well worth considering video. However, if your content is something that can be well described through a printed / text format – such as a definition, a table or a chart – it is best to use that medium.
  • Does the video help learning? Even if a video is used for the right kind of content, poorly executed videos may actually deter learning. Long monotonous videos that are poorly scripted and edited can be more painful than enjoyable as a learning experience. Videos that excessively use talking heads also tend to lose the learner, unless the presenter is exceptionally camera-friendly. Finally, videos that only demonstrate fail to give learners the opportunity to practice. Merely watching an installation procedure might sometimes be not enough. The learner needs to do it in a real or simulated environment to lock in the learning.
  • Issues of size, quality and bandwidth. Video based learning solution need good bandwidth to be effective online, even with today’s decent compression techniques. Low bandwidth and poor streaming / downloading techniques can easily put off learners in a hurry. Compressed video, while addressing the issue of size and bandwidth may sometimes mean poorer video quality – which may not be acceptable in certain learning situations involving detailed visuals.
  • Maintenance. Updating video-based learning solutions can be difficult. Any change in the content could mean that the whole video might need to done again. You could of course, painstakingly edit out and re-insert only the parts that need to be updated, using video editing software, but it may not always work – your scene, actors or context may be impossible to recreate again.
Consider these and other issues when picking video as a medium. Though these issues can be resolved with some focus and foresight, it is perhaps better to adopt a blend of media that gives you both flexibility and learning effectiveness.

STAM has a decade's experience in helping global companies with their Web Based product training strategies and investments, please contact us for your product training requirements.
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