The benefits and challenges of using video in elearning

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There are many benefits and challenges with using video in elearning. From creating engaging learner experiences and recording employee video stories to video drama and tackling the challenges of team capacity, there’s no doubt that video elearning comes with both drawbacks and great rewards.

One thing is clear, with 58% of people in 2020 using video-based elearning to gain new skills, learning and development teams have no choice but to explore video as an effective way to reach their goals. To help you understand the pros and prepare for the cons of video elearning, we’ve pulled together key research and customer insights.


Why use video in elearning

Video has always been a popular format, but recent years have seen it achieve new heights. has highlighted that use of video streaming services increased by 12% in 2020. Mobile use is also on the up. Statista reports one of the most popular mobile activities is viewing video.

People watch video for a variety of reasons, but video for learning is gaining momentum in the corporate world. Smart companies are choosing video elearning to provide their employees with learning experiences that connect to their needs and wants. In fact, according to Google, 58% of the people surveyed in 2020 reported using video to learn new skills. And it’s not surprising, as research highlights just how effective it is. Viewers retain as much as 95% of a message when they watch it on video, compared to 10% when reading a text-based version.

Increase in Internet Services Usage in the US

6 key video elearning approaches

Of course, a video learning course comes in various guises but there are six effective elearning video approaches that help employees master the skills they need:

      • Video drama
      • Interactive video
      • User-generated video
      • Lecture videos
      • Software Tutorials
      • Demonstrations And How-Tos

Video drama

Drama can be used to tell stories, understand different viewpoints and show the impact of actions.

    • Pros: Effective drama can bring stories to life and engage learners’ emotions
    • Cons: Involves film crews, actors and editors – to name just a few – which makes video drama an expensive option. Plus, it doesn’t have the authenticity of real employee stories

Want to see what video drama can do for digital learning? Check out this great Nice Media example.


Interactive video

Interactive video enables learners to make decisions and see the impact of their choices in an environment where they don’t have to worry about failure.

    • Pros: Putting learners in the hot seat boosts knowledge retention and increases confidence
    • Cons: Interactive video can be complicated and time consuming to produce. Although it can use real employees and stories, interactive video tends to involve actors and scripted drama

Looking to explore interactive video learning? Here’s a brilliant example from the authoring tool Elucidat.


Employee and user-generated videos

User-generated content created by your employees covers everything from ‘how to’ guides to real life stories, and much, much more.

    • Pros: Quick and cost effective to produce, videos created by employees provide authentic and relevant stories people want to hear. And with the right admin tools, like StoryTagger’s Campaign Manager, curators can widen their pool of video creators and crowdsource from across the organization so anyone can start producing video
    • Cons: Employees don’t always feel confident in recording video and can struggle to share a story that’s on point. Providing encouragement, support and clear prompts through a user-friendly tool like StoryTagger can get everyone up and running

Ready to discover user-generated video in the workplace? Check out our StoryTagger example.


Lecture videos

Using lecture videos to deliver information is a common approach to learning at work, allowing experts to present essential knowledge ‘live’ for learners to then watch when convenient for them.

      • Pros: Lecturers can present information in a traditional classroom format and the content is made readily available for learners to watch in their own time, bringing in flexibility
      • Cons: A lecture style format can struggle to engage learners and it can be difficult to include source materials needed unless given as a separate resource. There’s also the cost, time and complexity of recording the video: hidden factors like scheduling the lecture, recording and editing are often overlooked


Software tutorials

These days many companies are turning to video to teach their employees how to use the different software, platforms and tools. This is where software tutorials come in.

      • Pros: Video software tutorials provide visual demonstrations of complex concepts. They can be a great way to show step-by-step walkthroughs to help learners gain practical skills and confidence. Having them in a video format also means learners can pause, rewind, and replay
      • Cons: Tutorial videos lack the level of interactivity compared to some other formats. They often also suffer from information overload as complex software videos may overwhelm learners with excessive information


Demonstrations and how-tos

Another video elearning approach that L&D teams often use for elearning are demonstrations and how-tos. Similar to software tutorials, and as the name suggests, these videos are aimed at showing learners how to do a specific task or how a specific business process works.

      • Pros: Similar to software tutorials, demonstration and how-to videos can be a good way to explain complex business processes. They also provide practical examples or real-life use and experience
      • Cons: Creating high-quality demonstrations and how-to videos can be time-consuming and resource-intensive


Using video in elearning – the benefits and challenges

Whichever approach you decide to take, using video in elearning creates a lot of benefits, as well as some challenges. We spoke to a number of learning professionals to find out how and why they use video. They also highlighted their key challenges and how StoryTagger helped them.

1. Telling stories

According to the learning industry author Nick Shackleton-Jones ‘Human beings are storytellers. Our minds are finely tuned to the emotional significance of events – so much so that making words into a story can improve retention seven-fold.”

And whether it’s drama or talking heads, video is perfect for storytelling.

The benefit: Real, authentic human stories capture your learner’s attention and emotions. And that makes the information stick.

The challenge: How you tell the story can vary depending on what you’re trying to achieve, but an effective structure is essential. If you don’t get it right, the person telling the story will quickly go off topic and the resulting video will lose your learner.

How we can help: StoryTagger’s built-in frameworks, with question prompts to keep creators on-point, helps create a narrative arc to the story, compelling the viewer to keep watching.

“StoryTagger addresses the challenges by keeping the process ridiculously simple for the user while allowing a designer to structure the experience, ensuring a quality story.” Christopher Lind, Learning Sharks

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Storytelling at work

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2. Creating microlearning

Short, sharp videos that can be easily accessed anytime, anywhere.

The benefit: Accessing learning in the moment of need and in the flow of work means it can be applied immediately.

The challenge: Longer videos can lose the viewers’ attention and make it harder to gain the necessary knowledge to apply learning on the job. Keeping it short and to the point isn’t always easy, but it’s vital for impact.

How we can help: StoryTagger structures each video into manageable, bite-sized parts. As well as section time limits, it helps employees to create short, succinct and effective videos.

“StoryTagger is a great way for students to share short, punchy video stories about university life with our communities” Nik Taylor, The Student Room


3. Responding to demand

User generated videos are quick and cost-effective to produce.

The benefit: Encouraging employees to create videos means you can respond to new skill gaps and learning requirements at speed. Once they’re recorded, simply pop them on your Learning Management System (LMS) or Learning Experience Platform (LXP) and the learning can start.

The challenge: Often employees aren’t confident in creating video. And, if they decide to give it a go, they tend to find it difficult to stay on topic. This means the key points that are of most value to others get lost.

How we can help: StoryTagger’s simple interface sets prompts to help people share something that’s relevant and authentic. By giving everyone the ability to tell their story in this way builds confidence and develops key competencies, like communication, storytelling and reflection.

“StoryTagger has been a god-send in this crisis with trying to get non-tech leaders to film videos to get back to us quickly, so happy to shout from the rooftops about it.” Adriana Neves, City & Guilds

Explore other ways to use video in our articles on 25 applications of user generated video and tips for repurposing content as video. Or take a look at our 5 best elearning video ideas and examples.

Free guide: Why you need an intentional strategy for curating employee-generated content. Download it today.

Final thoughts on video-based elearning

Need to respond to new learning requirements at speed? Want to get people learning quickly and effectively? Looking to grab attention and engage emotions through storytelling? Video is your answer.

There are lots of approaches you can take to use video in online learning – each with different benefits and challenges. User-generated video offers an efficient and effective way to include video in your online courses. Not just because it’s quick and cost effective. But because your people are best placed to provide the authentic and relevant video-based learning your organisation needs. Don’t let employees’ lack of confidence and skills get in the way. Provide the support they need to master video storytelling and create effective learning experiences.

Ready to overcome these challenges and maximise the benefits of video in elearning? See what StoryTagger can do for you with a free trial.

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Storytelling at work

Why you need an intentional strategy for curating employee-generated content

StoryTagger Guide: Storytelling At Work
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Related resources

Looking to use video in your elearning? Checkout these useful related resources: