So much about how we learn, as embodied in so many textbooks and articles based on little more than traditional thinking, is just wrong and not based on any valid research. From the relatively ancient “VAK” belief that each individual has a single main learning style, to “left brain/right brain” theories, we now understand that learning is multi-modal.

Although a given design approach may be useful to support learning, research now shows that mixing modes to deliver learning works best, even when the same technology is used in more than one way.

That said, no technology is as flexible as video. In this article I will present some alternative ways to use video technology to take maximum advantage of its strengths.

Demos and proofs of concept

These are two of the original uses of video technology. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a live action video (“talking head”) that combines pictures, narration, movement, possibly musical accompaniment, and captions and augmented reality can do so much more than a simple passive classroom presentation.

Exactly how this happens depends on the combination of technologies and their creative application within a video, and how well the platform and design are matched to the users and their needs. A designer’s skill in scripting, supported by effective use of the media, is the necessary support to achieve the engagement, recall, and emotional components needed.

Suggested reading:

How We Learn 

Capterra shortlist of experience platforms

Animated video

A closely-related second to talking head video demonstrations is the category of animated video. Supported by the appropriate learning platform, design, and scripting, video animation can provide learning for additional intangible skills and understanding that are not as easy to develop as hard technical topics. The challenges for creating animated video include the cost and development time that may be required for production.

Some research indicates that younger employees may respond better to animation than to talking heads. If you have a large target audience, this could be worth investing in some A/B testing if you have the budget and the developer talent to try animations out.

Suggested reading

Explainer videos

Capterra shortlist for animated explainer videos

Live-streamed video, including support for conference presentations that will be recorded

There are an increasing number of options for live-streaming. The advantage of this approach is that the audience can ask questions IF the design supports effective use of chat and breakout rooms. “Effective use” has to include the likely skill level of the audience; older audiences tend not to have the experience to use chat and breakout rooms, although you do have to know your audience and their familiarity with the format. Look for software that supports integration of augmented reality in the presentation. Pacing the live-streamed presentation is essential to success: Don’t leave your audience behind. The objective is to support learning, not just to “cover the material.” Match your pace to what the audience can handle, and test your assumptions about this. This isn’t a race to an imaginary finish line!

Top tips for better live streams

Do these four things before you present:

1. Know your content.

2. Rehearse your content.

3. Know what to do when your presentation technology fails (and it will).

4. Don’t panic—the first three tips will save you, the technology won’t.

Capterra shortlist for live-streamed video

Scripts and storyboards

Here is the main tip for all video: Never make a talking head video, tutorial, or do live streaming without making a script and a storyboard part of your development process. Shooting video from the hip makes audiences suffer, and it makes the presenter look bad. Scripts and storyboards are essential to quality video deliveries, talking head videos, live streaming, or animations, no matter how much expertise you have. Insist that the presenter use the script and storyboard when rehearsing the presentation.