The popularity of video is undeniable. In February, the YouTube Official Blog stated that people were watching a billion hours of YouTube video a day. That’s billion, with a B. Hours, not minutes. Every day.

Video is well suited to eLearning, of course, but why limit it to straight-up video that learners will watch passively? Video is versatile and offers so many enhancements. This article looks briefly at a few options:

  • 360-degree video
  • Animated video
  • Interactive video
  • Vertical video

360-degree video

A quest for low-budget immersive eLearning will lead many instructional designers to include 360-degree video in their planning. Placing learners literally in the middle of the story, 360-degree video has started to prove itself as an enhancement to simulations, training videos, and more.

In a LinkedIn post, Sarah Wood—co-founder and CEO of Unruly, an ad tech company—calls 360-degree video a “bridge” between standard two-dimensional video and virtual reality. You can view this video using a VR headset, which provides the most immersive experience, but that is not the only option; 360-degree video is available to people who do not have or use VR headsets. Learners can access 360-degree video using a laptop or desktop computer and use their fingers to rotate the image, as many already do when using Google Street View. Learners can also view the 360-degree video on a smartphone and rotate the phone to get the full picture. Wood cites an ExchangeWire survey of media buyers in which 43 percent predicted that they’d see the greatest video growth in 360-degree video during 2017. It’s not just for ads, though. Engaging eLearning immerses learners in a story; immersive videos offer an ideal medium to do just that.

Video animations

The suggestion to create animated video might conjure images of flip books and cell-by-cell drawing, but those days are long gone. Inexpensive tools like GoAnimate and PowToon make it easy to create short animations with a lot of custom touches that will meet the specific needs of an individual organization’s learners.

Animations do not have to be frivolous; designers can use animations to address or present serious topics. It’s faster and less expensive to create an animated simulation or narrative than to find people in the office or bring in actors to record a live-action video. Instructional designers can use animations in games, in presentations, and to tell stories or break down complex information. A clickable timeline or layered chart can deploy animated video to introduce high-level concepts piece by piece. And combining animation with interactive video elements can really boost learner engagement.

Interactive video

Adding interactivity transforms video viewing from a passive experience to an engaging one. Many eLearning authoring tools support adding some interactive features; it’s also possible to purchase tools that will add an overlay with interactive features to existing videos.

Interactive overlays present a wealth of options to instructional designers. It’s easy to add quiz or knowledge-check questions at any stage of a video and require learners to respond before continuing to view the video. Interactive overlays are also a great way to add information, whether to present details bit-by-bit or to link articles and downloadable documents where learners can delve deeper into a topic.

Consumers are increasingly encountering interactive video advertisements; like those ads, interactive videos can ask viewers to click on links that launch additional videos, open up websites or graphics, or offer documents to read and download.

Adding interactivity to video helps keep eLearning up to date and engaging as learners’ expectations change and as technology evolves. Learn more in “Five Ways to Add Interactivity to Video.

Vertical video

While vertical video is technically not an “enhancement” to video, it makes this list because shooting vertical video was considered taboo for so long that it’s worth encouraging eLearning designers to give it another look.

According to TechCrunch, US consumers spend an average of five hours a day using mobile devices; 18 percent of that (or almost one hour) is spent on YouTube or other media entertainment apps. Add in more social media platforms, like Facebook, and other places where consumers might be watching videos, and you get a large chunk of the average learner’s day. Hence the growing popularity of vertical video: It is a far more natural way to watch video on a smartphone, or even a tablet, than standard horizontal video. Unruly’s Sarah Wood predicts that vertical video will be the standard by 2018, citing her company’s study that found “mobile vertical video views drive [six times] the interaction rate of horizontal mobile video.”

Together with responsively designed content, eLearning with vertical video can move smoothly from laptops to tablets and smartphones, where an increasing number of learners will use it.