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What's happening in the world of digital learning?

  • Ashleigh Hull

Why Interactive Video?

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Why video?

Here are 3 reasons why you should use video in learning - though there are many more.

Storytelling Firstly, video is a medium that naturally lends itself to storytelling. And that’s one thing that makes video so powerful in learning; because stories teach.

At the risk of repeating our blog on this subject - stories help us to contextualise abstract ideas. We can get a hold of them. We remember how they made us feel. And the result of that is that we learn.

Lifesaver, a project from the Resuscitation Council, is a great example of this. It uses story to engage your emotions - you feel the panic, pressure and relief that you would experience in a real emergency - and because of that engagement, the experience stays with you. You’ve learned how to help in crisis situations. Stories told through video are an excellent teaching tool.

Visual explanation Secondly, video works so well in learning because it’s so much easier to explain things visually. I could spend a lot of time describing a dragon to you, but if I show you an image you’ve got it instantly. In the same way, video is a much faster and clearer way of conveying information. It’s easy to understand and to apply. When you need to learn how to change a tyre or fix a leaky tap, would you rather pore over a chunky book or watch a how-to video? Or if you need to learn how to do something in Photoshop, are you more likely to read an article about it or watch a 20-second video of it being done?

In the absence of experts showing us in person, we’re getting very accustomed to learning our skills from video.

Always accessible And thirdly, video means that the learning experience isn’t confined to classroom or training sessions. It can be accessed anywhere, any time, on any device. And, crucially, learners can rewind and rewatch it as needed; something that can’t be done with a lecturer in a classroom! When you miss something, or you want to go over it again, it’s only a click away.

So why interactive?

Again, here’s 3 reasons for you - though again, there are many more.

Active learner participation Firstly, interactivity adds a layer of engagement. As appealing as regular video is, it’s still a relatively passive experience. Even if it’s full of explosions and car chases you can just sit there and zone out. With interactive video, you become an active participant in your own learning. You’re not just passively receiving information. You’re thinking about what’s going on, assessing whether you need or want to know more.

The Shakespeare demo we produced with our friends at Video Interact is a great example of this. Students watching this modern enactment of Twelfth Night can choose to click on interactive hotspots. These hotspots take them to interviews with cast, crew and Shakespeare experts, giving them more insight into the characters and language. The interactivity enables them to get answers to their questions and go deeper with their learning; and when that’s an option, you’re far more inclined to stay engaged.

Another great example is the catwalk video we made with Video Interact for Central St Martins. In the same way as the Shakespeare video, hotspots provide more information, enabling viewers to delve into the areas that interest them without having to sit through the things that don’t. Unlike with regular video, you don’t lose interest and then miss something you would’ve found helpful. When you’re only watching the bits that are relevant to you, you stay engaged.

Branching scenarios A second reason to go interactive is that it means your video doesn’t have to be linear. You can have a branching scenario; a story where the viewer’s choices affect what happens next. Coldplay have made use of this in the interactive music video for their song ‘Ink’, telling a story where the viewer becomes the protagonist and their choices determine how the story progresses.

Learning happens when we fail. But in the real world, failure has consequences. Branching scenarios help you learn what the wrong choices are in a risk-free environment. Going back to the Lifesaver example, if you make the wrong choice here, no one actually dies; but a mistake in the real world is far more costly. Branching scenarios allow for mistakes. They help you learn what the wrong choices are without any real damage being done. And they’re so much more engaging than reading a document that details all the ramifications of getting something wrong.

But it’s not just the mistakes that teach you. Making the right choice is just as helpful as making mistakes; it builds confidence and reinforces learning. Branching scenarios allow for learning from both failure and success.

The applications of this are so wide-reaching, everything from dealing with difficult customers to correctly operating machinery. Branching scenarios in interactive video training would work in any situation where making the wrong choice can have negative consequences.

Easily applicable on-the-job A third reason to choose interactive video is that it’s easy to apply the training in the real world. That’s true for branching scenarios, but also for interactive video more generally.

This demo shows some contractor training we built for Arjowiggins (you can read the full story here). Contractors are shown situations they will come across in their day-to-day work, and have to spot the hazards or unacceptable behaviours. It’s easy to apply learning from these videos because the learning environment matches the real working environment. It trains you to do what you’ll actually need to do on the job.

While a variant of this would be possible with regular video, it wouldn’t be particularly helpful; you wouldn’t know if you’d spotted all the hazards. Interactive video means that you get valuable feedback. You know what you’ve spotted, and what you’ve missed. You actually learn.

Again, the possible applications are extensive. We’ve used interactive video for hazard spotting on building sites; in driving safety videos; in offices. You could use it to teach people about correct posture, manual handling, procedures they should follow, the important factors in doing a job well… almost anything.

So why VR?

The elearning world is buzzing about VR - the next step up from interactive video. Why go there? That’ll be the subject of our next blog.

So what next?

You may feel like your options for video are restricted to cheap and awful (Dan from HR filming something on his phone) or big and expensive (not everyone has the £90,000 budget of the Lifesaver project). But with us, there’s a better option! With us you get high quality and low cost. There’s so much to know about making good video; and we know it. Rather than trying to figure it out alone, why not let us do it for you?

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