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When you’re in the eLearning space, you don’t have the benefit of judging interest by looking at your class, making engagement especially important.
A teacher in a classroom can visually discern who is paying attention and who is starting to flake. With an eLearning course, the learner’s engagement is almost entirely dependent on the course itself because there is no in-person presenter. If the learner loses interest, getting them back is much more difficult because there’s no teacher there to swoop in and save them. To keep learners engaged, the course must be gripping from the start.
Adding video is one of the most surefire ways to hook your audience and can also make retention and recall easier for viewers. This means your viewers are more likely to be hooked and remember the information they’re receiving. It’s a win-win.
But it’s not as simple as just adding videos to your eLearning courses. The videos need to be created in a way that hooks viewers while also delivering the right information. To make this process easier, there are key tips that can ensure that your videos hit the mark.
You won’t know where to take your video if you haven’t set a learning goal. A clear objective for your course and video will keep you on track and make sure you’re being concise with the messaging.
Your objectives should be high-level and functional, not granular. For example, in an eLearning video about web design, your objective could be, “ensure viewers walk away equipped to create sites using WordPress.” Save the granular goals, such as, “Teach users how to alter headers using CSS,” for the nitty-gritty course planning.
Objectives should be made clear at the beginning of your course, giving users an idea about what it is they’ll learn. Use clear, straightforward language because the objectives will be used to promote the course, and the wrong language could mislead users into taking a course that isn’t the right fit for them.
Learning objectives will help you and the learner understand what matters most in the course. Distill your video down to its most basic themes and the objectives will be easy to lay out. For an even deeper understanding of learning objectives, Duke has an in-depth guide.
Before you create your course video, you must take the time to understand where your audience’s knowledge gaps are and what approach best serves them.
To determine who your audience is, think about the subject of your lesson. Research that topic, and see what kinds of people frequent forums, social media pages, and other sites covering that subject. Are they older? Younger? Tech-savvy? Conduct internal surveys or look at the social media profiles of people who follow pages related to the topic you’re teaching to gather more info on your typical learner.
Use the audience data you’ve gathered to inform how you present the information. The audience and subject you’re presenting should play a big role in how the information is conveyed within your video.
For example, if you’re covering conflict-resolution tips for children, you’ll want to use childlike characters within the video. A video that does a scientific deep dive on how engines work, on the other hand, should use mature imagery, like photos or animated diagrams.
You know your subject matter through and through. Understanding your audience helps you determine how you can deliver your lesson in a way that resonates with them and makes them an expert.
A key way to pique learners’ interest in your video is to explain why the knowledge you’re sharing is useful. Much like your learning objectives, stating the benefit of the video upfront will give viewers something to look forward to and make it clear what they’ll gain from the experience.
A great spot to announce these benefits is at the start of your video or course; this will give your viewers the promise of a benefit and motivate them to complete the video. Tell your viewer not only what it is they’re going to learn but also how this knowledge will help them do a task better or improve their life in a certain way.
If this video is a part of employee training, showcase how the video will help the viewer improve their job performance. For example, if the video covers a new sales technique your company will be using, you can explain how this can lead to an uptick in sales and a higher bonus on average. Peter Mercado at Cleveland Water and Power does a nice job of introducing the benefits in this eLearning video about how to find a water leak:
Your learners have already been sold well enough on the title or topic to click the video. Making the benefits of the video clear can motivate them to see the course through.
Storytelling in eLearning can inspire audiences and help them get invested in the course. Instead of listing monotonous facts, share information through a scenario to hook your students and show how the knowledge is applied in a real-world setting.
Consider using a classic storytelling arc, based on the Freytag pyramid. Begin with an exciting incident, transition into a conflict, and end with a resolution. This model of storytelling is traditionally used in books, movies, and television, and it works by immediately hooking the viewer with something exciting or interesting.
For example, let’s say you’re making an eLearning video on de-escalating situations in the workplace. Your video could include a scenario that shows how two people get into an argument and how the situation could be resolved with communication techniques.
Here’s a simple sales training scenario from Vyond:
Locate and use more scenario templates from Vyond in our template library.
Videos have the benefit of taking advantage of both visuals and audio, making them a great medium for storytelling. Use this to your benefit, and grip your viewers with an educational story or scenario that fits the lesson.
Don’t just talk at your audience with an eLearning video with narration—give them a chance to interact with the course content as well. This interactivity encourages engagement by actively involving the audience.
One way to add interactivity is by adding mini-tests or quizzes after a video plays to ensure that the knowledge is sticking. You can also break up videos with scenarios that allow the learner to select the appropriate response to a situation. This lets them ground the information in a real-world scenario while also giving them a chance to participate. Here’s an example from the British Council:
Videos can already be interesting ways to deliver education. Take things a step further and encourage your audiences to have fun by adding interactivity.
Studies have shown that engagement dips drastically after six minutes of video. With this in mind, try to keep your videos at or below six minutes. Two-three minutes are often best.
If you have a lengthy topic to cover, try to find areas where a break wouldn’t interrupt the flow too drastically. These breaks are a great spot to include a quiz or interactive segment as well.
Check whether the hosting platform for your courses offers a save function. If so, turn it on so users are able to step away from the session and resume it later. At the very least, be sure that your course video player allows students to hit pause. Interruptions happen, and learners need mental breaks, so an option to stop the course improves the overall experience.
Even the biggest lessons can be broken into concise, digestible pieces. Keep your viewers hooked by keeping it short and to the point.
Keep your videos visually interesting by using multiple types of media within the video.
Adding Adobe effects to a Vyond video, for example, can give the video an even more professional look while also drawing the eye. You can also use photos as backgrounds or props in animated videos, as exemplified by the channel Learn By Watch.
Pay close attention to the feedback on your courses and videos as you experiment with various types of visual media in your eLearning videos. Over time, you’ll see which types of media perform best with your audiences and be able to replicate that success.
Gamification, the practice of turning learning into a game, makes course completion fun for learners. It’s been shown to increase student and employee engagement and even motivate participants to try harder.
Consider adding gamification, where appropriate, to break up videos and make a course more engaging. For example, you might grant students badges for watching a certain number of course videos. You can also add scoreboards to your quizzes or tests and watch as learners compete to get the highest score, learning the material all along.
Duolingo, the language education company, is a prime example of gamification and eLearning. Duolingo’s entire platform is built around gamification, allowing users to earn badges, compete with others via a leaderboard, and build a custom profile that shows accumulated points and achievements.
The example below, a register training eLearning for McDonald’s, allows employees to test their knowledge with a simulated register that tracks score.
With small features, like badges, acting as a great motivator, there’s little reason not to add gamification. Let your audiences have a bit more fun while learning by taking interactivity to the next level with gamification.
Most eLearning video will have some kind of narration that plays over the lesson. Instead of recording the narration yourself or asking a coworker to do so, consider hiring a professional voice actor.
A trained voice actor will sound more professional than an amateur recording, lending credibility to your eLearning. Actors are also able to inject emotion into their narration and dialogue, so learners can clearly understand the meaning of lessons in your video.
Use online voiceover markets, such as VoiceBunny or Voices.com to find an actor that fits your needs and budget. Be sure to listen to their samples to see if there’s a potential fit before hiring the actor.
The visuals of the video are only half of the equation. Make sure your eLearning video delivers the full experience by getting the right voice talent for the job.
Don’t be afraid to bring a bit of personality to your eLearning videos. Being a bit unconventional—whether it’s in your visual style or humorous narration—will make your video content memorable and likely to stick.
If you’re uncertain about where to start with adding personality and creativity to your pieces, here are a few ideas to get your wheels turning:
Matt Moran does a great job of this in his public speaking course videos:
Take some risks, loosen up, and let your videos be something wholly original.
In the United States, roughly 19% of the population has some form of disability, and your audience could easily consist of people who need assistance with accessing your material. Because of this, it’s always a good idea to make sure your eLearning videos are accessible.
To ensure that your videos are accessible, add closed captions to videos for people who are hearing impaired. These captions should be a separate text file that can be read aloud for people who are visually impaired.
It’s also a good idea to create a text version of your video that details everything said, because captions aren’t always capable of capturing the full effect of the piece.
Also make sure your video is hosted on a player that supports accessibility. Many major players, including YouTube and Facebook, have accessibility features but aren’t necessarily compliant with government’s accessibility standards. For a detailed list of compliant players, as well as further details on accessibility, read our guide on making accessible videos.
When it feels natural, take a moment to ask your viewers a question. While you won’t be able to hear them respond, this question will get them to pause and think about the information they’re taking in. Questions will push your viewers to think about the material and pull them back in if they’ve started to drift at all.
For example, if you’ve just presented a concept, think about asking a quick question and pausing, giving viewers a moment to think. Then, tell them what the answer is, and then dive into the next topic. These aren’t a substitute for quizzes or tests but serve more to keep your users thinking and interested.
While eLearning doesn’t allow you to see learners in-person, you can still craft course videos in a way that keeps your audience hooked and excited to learn. The 12 tips above will have you on your way to creating engaging videos for your eLearning courses. Start with these basic guidelines, and then experiment to see what works with your brand and your audience.
Vyond has the tools and customization options to make videos that can be engaging for virtually any audience. Start a 14-Day Free Trial, and see for yourself how easy it is to make engaging videos that benefit any eLearning course.