Online video can be a great tool to use in your eLearning courses (for a run down of why it can be so effective head here). There are many different ways you can incorporate video into your course, each with their own benefits. We’ve put together a quick guide of the different ways you can use online video to encourage effective and lasting learning.

1. Contextualize

Video gives you the power to visually represent real world situations in which the concepts you are teaching come into play. This is incredibly useful in bringing abstract theories into focus as it helps the learner to develop a connection between the knowledge you are transferring and its practical application. It is those connections that encourage long term attitude and behaviour change.

If you contextualise the problem your lesson is designed to overcome and make it meaningful to your students it will help them to understand the value behind the lesson. This is what will motivate them to learn, and retain, the information your course contains.

2. Demonstrate

Would you rather read how to do something, or be shown it?

When teaching practical skills, research has shown that a short “how to” video is much more effective than simply describing the activity via text.

Take the screencast (below) for example. In it, we show how to manage videos using labels.

Now, imagine we described this using text. If we were to convey the precise detail that can be shown in just 40 seconds of video we’d need a lot of text. We could always simplify those written instructions but then we open ourselves up to ambiguity and misunderstandings. Video offers a clear and concise way to communicate with students.

3. Visual Analogy

When you make an analogy between something the learner is already familiar with and the unfamiliar concept you are teaching you guide them through the knowledge gap and help learning take place. Analogies help your students to develop cognitive short cuts to use as a reference when trying to problem solve in real life.

Video should be used to create compelling visual analogies that are more likely to be remembered. In this example we employ the analogy of a thin pipe to describe a slow internet connection.

Immediately the learner can use this analogy as a base from which to solve further questions: What happens when you have a faster internet connection? When can you play larger video files? Analogies enable your students to make a powerful leap in their understanding and equip them with the cognitive tools they need for true comprehension.

4. Collaborate

Way back in the 70s Vygotsky recognised that social interaction was critical to cognitive development, arguing that community plays a central role to making meaning. By collaboration and information-sharing the whole group can move toward a greater level of understanding than the individual student.

What better place for collaborative learning than the world wide web? The Internet can facilitate this better than ever before, bringing together mass groups of people from very different walks of life.

Use video to establish this community vibe. By allowing students to upload their own videos you encourage them to share their knowledge and build an environment in which group members learn from each other. Students are no longer isolated and detached sitting at their desktops or mobile devices. Instead they are connected to and engaged with one another – even without the traditional classroom space.

5. Illustrate

Illustrative examples are a great way of concretely defining what you are talking about within the lesson. We’ve peppered this post with examples, take Point 3. for instance, here our example of a visual analogy makes it clear what we mean by the term. This brings clarity and ensures both instructor and student have the same understanding of a particular concept.

Video has long been recognised as a powerful learning tool in the traditional classroom. But, gone are the days of dusty vhs tapes sitting on classroom shelves. Learning is increasingly moving online – and video has its own role to play in this new learning environment.

Interested in learning more? Check out our guide to getting started with eLearning videos here.

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