Not that long ago using videos in e-learning was pretty prohibitive due to the costs associated with it. Fast forward a few years and with everyone having access to video-cameras on their smartphones and laptops, it has become a lot more feasible for the everyday e-learning designer to use videos in his/her projects.
But remember: just because video has become more commonplace, that doesn’t mean that adding video to e-learning is without its challenges or that every project merits it. I recently did some research into using video in e-learning for a course I’m presently designing and I thought I’d compile some of my findings into a blog post.
Pros and Cons of Using Video in e-Learning
Whether or not you choose to use video in your project will depend on many factors, including time, budget, and subject matter. Whichever way you choose to go, there will be advantages and disadvantages.
PROS OF USING VIDEO
CONS OF USING VIDEO
When you should use video
Although the cost of developing video for e-learning has gone down significantly over the years, it is still a time and resource-intensive undertaking. As such, you should only use video when there is a clear instructional purpose behind it. Here are a few examples of when video might be a good idea:
- To model behavioral or interpersonal skills
- To demonstrate how-to do, and how not to do, a specific task
- To reduce the reading load for learners
- To emphasize an important concept or point
- When you need more emotional appeal than photos and text alone can deliver
High-level steps for using video
If you’ve decided you will be going ahead and using video in your project, here are the high-level tasks you will need to accomplish.
- Decide which content will be presented through video
- Decide if you will Do-It-Yourself or hire a professional videographer
- Script and create a shot-by-shot storyboard
- Schedule videographer, actors, location, sound & lighting technician
- Record the video
- Edit the video using editing software
- Compress and render the video
- Insert video into e-learning course
- Provide learners with software requirements for accessing the video
Key considerations for using video
Below is a list of some of the basic considerations you will want to look at when planning your video project.
- Scripting and Storyboarding: Has the script been written and vetted? Scriptwriting may seem easy but it can actually be quite difficult and time-intensive to create realistic dialog. Do you have a storyboard for all the shots you need to capture when recording your video? Do you need a close-up shot of a product or of a specific technique? Have it planned out, shot by shot.
- Video Equipment and Technology: Do you have the equipment needed to shoot videos? (Camera, editing software, microphones, lighting, backdrops, etc.) If you don’t currently have the necessary equipment, will you be purchasing (new or used) or renting the equipment? What are the price differences? If you are hiring a professional, which equipment will he/she bring?
- Location: Where will you be filming your video? Do you need a sound proof location? Can you film in a public space? Do you need to book the space, or make arrangements to make sure it’s quiet? Do you need to purchase a back drop for the room?
- Actors: Will you be using employees or paid actors? If you are using paid actors, do they need to be a certain age, ethnicity, gender, etc. Do you need to schedule them a few weeks in advance? Do you have any backups in case someone doesn’t show up? Do the actors need to be wearing any specific type of clothing (business suits, casual jeans, etc.) and how should their hair and makeup be done?
- Lighting: Professional looking videos are well lit to avoid shadows, darkness, etc. How will you accomplish this?
- Sound: You may need a professional sound technician who has wireless microphones and the equipment needed to make sure all the sounds are crisp and clear.
- Final editing: Do you have the software necessary to make edits to the footage? If not, will you hire a professional to do this? What are the costs and timeframes involved?
- Logistics: Now that you’ve got your equipment, location, actors and sound & light technicians all sorted out, you need to schedule everyone to be in the same place at the same time for at least a few hours to do the recording!
Which video format to use
As I did my research into using videos I started wondering which video format is best for e-learning. I also found it’s really easy to become confused and lost in the world of video codecs, containers and formats. I think it’s really important to understand these basic video technology concepts so here’s my attempt to break it down. Almost all video out there is compressed (meaning it’s been altered to take up less space on your computer). A video codec is software the decompresses the files so you can watch them (popular ones are QuickTime, Windows Media, DivX) and a container (really another word for what I call “format”) is the bundle of files that actually comprises the video (popular ones are .FLV, .MP4, .MOV, .AVI). Which type of video “container” should you use for your e-learning project? There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer, but you can reference the table below to help make your decision.
Video Format Comparison Chart
|.SWF (Flash File) & .FLV (Flash Video)||
|.MP4 and .MOV (MPEG-4)||
Managing Video File sizes:
One of the biggest disadvantages to using video in e-learning is the amount of space/bandwidth they use. Even when compressed, video files are not exactly tiny. However, there are a few basic things you can do to manage your video file sizes:
- Chunk your videos into small segments
- Compress your videos
- Limit the width and height of your videos in your courses (of course, don’t make it so small you can’t see the screen clearly!)
- Host your videos online (YouTube, or similar) and link to them or embed the YouTube videos directly in your course (this might only be a possibility is Internet access is available, and there might also be a security risk involved in this to take into consideration)
Various hints, tips, advice:
Here’s a couple of other interesting tidbits and nuggets of information I found as I was doing my research.
- Keep videos short (no more than few minutes, get to the point quickly)
- Use closed captioning (for hearing impaired, and for clarity)
- Make sure your e-learning authoring software and LMS are video compatible.
- Consider how easy/difficult the use of video will make it to edit and maintain the course down the line
- Remember your color blind audience!
Helpful Links and Resources
I thought I would share some of the web pages and resources that helped me write this post.