Goodbye Reading – Welcome Watching

Here is the data: An average person spends about 11 hours a week consuming digital content. Much of this is in the form of videos. During the first quarter of 2022, Facebook lost substantial market capitalization and the lack of sufficient video content is cited as one of the reasons for its decline. It’s no surprise that until now, Facebook remains largely as the reading medium. Facebook’s initiatives to include videos has not provided the expected results.
The writing on the wall is clear. Adults spend nearly six hours per week watching videos. As of last count, a total of 1.3 billion people use YouTube. About three hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. And more than five billion videos are watched on YouTube every day.
During much of last century, the world was getting their learnings, information, news and entertainment through reading. Parents actively encouraged reading habit in children. Adults who read voraciously were widely admired.
Today, a voracious reader may appear outdated. And justifiably so. There are more exciting ways to learn or to be entertained today than ever before. Videos lead this list.
However, when everyone is producing videos, how do we make ours stand out? We all watch so much video these days that many have developed video-fatigue. So, we need to find ways to make our content stand out. It is time that we raised the bar on our training content, because let us face it. Remember: we are no longer creating training content; we are creating training experience.
Let us look at some simple approaches to achieve this:

Topic

Define action-driven topics. Titles such as ‘Key Features of Compliance-based Business Framework’ is unlikely to work. ‘Running Your Business per the Law of the Land’ is more direct and engaging. Work passionately on defining action-driven topics. Even a generic topic can and should have a clear action.

Format and length

Videos come in different formats. Image animations, illustrated animations, white-board animations, and action videos. Each topic requires its own format. Of course, some such as the white-board animation have become outdated, and no one enjoys them these days. Today, human action video combined with image or illustrated animations seem to work better.
Also, the length of the video is as important as the video. We don’t want to present a 3-hour training video, unless what we are producing is a scholarly video intended for serious researchers, no one wants to spend that kind of time. Keep the videos short and nuggetised. Even four minutes might draw some yawns.
In any case, the format and length depend on the topic. As they say in Harry Potter, ‘The wand chooses the wizard,’ here ‘The topic chooses the format and length’.

Write before Shoot

Reading may be becoming extinct, but the writing isn’t going to be. The content must have a script and the script needs to be a detailed one. As they say in the movie industry, ‘one needs to have a bound script’. The complete video or all video nuggets need to be planned and written down to the minute details.
As before, the content dictates the script – whether we want animations, comic strip, graphic novel, illustrations, etc.—all become the board on which we present our training video. We can even innovate and come out with a totally new approach. People have been innovating every day on video styles. One way is to stay on top of YouTube. There are many channels that teach how to produce best and most modern videos. They help.

Interactions

Gone are those days when videos used to be only passive. We can embed interactions within the video content and make it more engaging and immersive. There are tools such as WireWax, Vidzor, and Storygami that help create interactive videos.
Finally, there are quite a few options, strategies, and tools available for designing, developing and deploying videos. A simple Google search will open the door for great learning on how to create and deploy great video content. Creating a video has never been easier, and the world is producing thousands of hours of content every day, a lot of them being instructional videos. No wonder people have stopped reading and have turned to watching. True enough, 21st century belongs to watching people. It’s time we start respecting voracious watchers. Of course, what we watch matters, but that is another topic, to be reserved for another blog.

HOW TO INVOLVE MANAGERS IN THE EMPLOYEE LEARNING JOURNEY

HOW TO INVOLVE MANAGERS IN THE EMPLOYEE LEARNING JOURNEY

Which one of these is more important according to you: Upskilling a team member to facilitate his or her manager’s growth. or Upskilling a manager to facilitate his or her team’s growth.

Least Interactive E-Learning

Least Interactive E-Learning

general perception among eLearning designers is that eLearning should be interactive. It should contain interactive functionality that involves learner, such as Click and Learn and Drag and Drop type interactivities. It should contain quiz questions that routinely check the learner’s understanding of the subject. If possible it should contain animations, video clips and, if possible, game-type situations, to get them excited.
Whilst all these are valid requirements, and often used in eLearning courses across the world, they don’t necessarily guarantee that the course you build would be instructionally sound. It merely ensures that the learner is not passive and is forced to perform some activity during their learning.
Also, these activities take time to build and cost money. What if your organisation doesn’t have the required budget to build rich media for your eLearning? Well, here is good news: the quality of your eLearning is not dependent on the media you use; it is about the instructional strategies you employ. You can make a reasonably interesting eLearning even using simple text & graphic screens.
This might come as quite surprising revelation. How can one build engaging eLearning merely with static screens?
Well, think of it like a good novel. I’m sure we were all glued to JK Rowling, Michael Crichton, Stephen King, or even Sidney Sheldon. One thing common to all these writers is that their books were ‘unputdownable’, meaning, they were so good that once we’re into a few pages, we were unable to put it down without completing it.
Their books didn’t contain pictures, animations, click and reveal activities, or 3-D models. Yet, I know many who skipped their night sleep to finish their books. Of course, we are not expected to write the next international bestseller, but we can employ some of the techniques these writers use to make our courses interesting. Here are some of them:

Central Thread

Identify a central thread to your content. What drives the idea? What is its single defining goal? For a sales negotiation content, it is winning the deal. For a gas turbine maintenance content, it is making the turbine run at its optimal efficiency. Find out what drives your content, write it in an action verb, and then let this goal drive your instructional design.
Identify a central thread to your content. What drives the idea? What is its single defining goal? For a sales negotiation content, it is winning the deal. For a gas turbine maintenance content, it is making the turbine run at its optimal efficiency. Find out what drives your content, write it in an action verb, and then let this goal drive your instructional design.

One Screen, One Thing

It’s tempting to pack a lot of stuff into the screens, especially when we have only the text and graphic option. Make sure that your screen deals with just one thing. How do we determine it’s only one? Use the learning objectives. Break down the terminal objectives down to one more level and you’ll be left with bare essential to be covered in one screen. Whilst storyboarding, it may feel like that the screen does not contain enough material, but that’s okay. To the learner, it would be enough to consume at one go.

Tell Stories

We all love stories. The necessity and the ability to tell stories has dominated human evolution for thousands of years. From cave paintings to virtual reality gears, our culture is dominated by stories. Though you don’t have to write the next Ramayana, think of various ways you can convert the material into small, interesting stories. You might scoff at it by saying not all topics lend themselves to storytelling. For instance, negotiation skills can have a lot of scope for creating stories, but a gas turbine maintenance cannot. Well, remember this: solving a problem is a lesson, whereas a character solving a problem is a story. If testing gas turbine’s heat level is a lesson, you can bring in Tom, a supervisor in a power plant, who has a problem in his plant and needs to check the turbine. You can also add stakes to the situation, i.e. if Tom doesn’t bring down the heat level in the turbine, it will lead to power outage and there is a major hospital that’s dependent on this plant. Voila, now you have a story! Now, the learner is curious to know how Tom ‘will solve this problem’. Remember, you need your SME’s support for this strategy and if you explain the benefits, few SMEs will object to this.

Write Clear, Precise Sentences

Often the message is muddled in unclear, passive sentences that hide the meaning. You need to flesh out what you want to say and say it clearly. Thankfully, you don’t need to ‘creatively think’ how to do this, as the rules for good writing are already well established. Write active sentences, write action-verbs, use verbs and not their noun forms, write short sentences, etc. Pick up any book on writing and that will tell you how to write easily readable and engaging sentences. If you’re not the book-type, Google ‘Better writing skills’ and it will offer thousands of ideas that will blow your mind.

Focus on action, not knowledge

Any learning is intended to make people do something, or do something better. We often think training involves imparting knowledge. It may be true of primary education, but for adult learning, it is often about making them do something such as negotiate better, maintain a power plant, comply with a specific law, etc. So shift your focus from imparting knowledge to what the learner will ‘do at the end of the learning.’ Think about this way: Instructional Design for Swimming. When you have to teach someone to swim, you won’t focus much on theory. You would want to throw the person onto water and start the teaching!
Treat every training like a swimming lesson; focus on DO, and not on LEARN. Your content will automatically become interesting.

Conclusion

Next time you are asked to build eLearning with limited media budget, think of these suggestions. If you believe the power is in the hands of the instructional designer, you will be able to come up with many more ideas to create interesting and engaging eLearning.
All the best.