This week, the OpenSesame crew is celebrating not only our successful April Fools' Day prank but our partnership eith ej4, an elearning content developer. The ej4 team uses snappy writing and creative video production to create engaging elearning courses. We're now featuring more than 400 courses from ej4 in the OpenSesame library, and I took the opportunity to pick ej4 CEO Dan Cooper’s brain to share some of his suggestions for creating fun, interesting and effective video courses.
Why do you use video for creating elearning courses?
Research shows that video greatly enhances the message quality and experience. Video content has higher retention, and generates increased comfort with and interest in the content.
- People are used to video. We’re all professional TV watchers, so it’s a medium we can all understand immediately.
- Video is flexible. It can be used as for: initial learning, refresh learning, coaching, and even group learning and performance support.
- Video is a perfect short-form medium. Nothing is more demoralizing than seeing “Screen 1 of 120” in an online program.
- Video lends itself to blended learning more easily as well. Managers are often terrible trainers but wonderful facilitators. Video provides them the instructional support they need.
- Only video can be deployed anywhere. It can be put on all the “screens” of today without have to redo the program – TVs, PCs, tablets, smart phones, route handhelds, WiFi-enabled MP3 players, etc.
You have a background as a newscaster. How does that experience influence the way you design and create courses?
Shooting news is a lot like training. You inform and teach people about events in an interesting way. My experience in news, the other partners’ 25 years each of training experience with corporate satellite TV networks, and our research on adult learning requirements helped create what today is J4™ video.
What’s your approach to designing soft skills course through an elearning format?
J4™ video is very tactical, not story based. Learners need to understand what they are going to learn, the process, how to use it today in their job, complete a practice example, and get back to work. Our soft skills courses follow that, and you can see a measurable difference the first time you use that new skill.
What are your best practices for creating elearning video courses?
- Keep the look and feel of the live event. Which is why we chose video and the instructor integrated with the content. This makes the learning comfortable, engaged, and fixes the issues that come with split attention when you have the content and instructor on different areas of the screen.
- Keep it short. Studies show that there are 11 minutes between interruptions in the workplace, and it takes 40 minutes to get back to what you were originally doing. Imagine how long it takes to view a 90 minute course during your day. Can you teach everything in 10 minutes? No. So chunk content up into part 1, part 2, part 3, etc.
- Keep it tactical. You don’t need to win an Oscar for the amazing storyline or plot. Teach them how to be better at their job today and move a needle for the company, and then let them get back to work.
- Instructional design is crucial. We have a specific instructional design methodology that we have built when creating videos and we follow it precisely. Make sure you use good instructional design.
How do you make sure that your video courses are interactive and engaging?
Our instructional design standards require specify mental engagement practice exercises. Research shows that mentally engaging the viewer generates the same as making them click the mouse. Great examples of mental engagement are game shows we all know and love on TV. Think Jeopardy!, The Price is Right, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Deal or No Deal. They are so popular because viewers are playing along mentally at home.