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3 Reasons to Encourage Video-Based Self-Directed Learning

Big Think Edge | February 13, 2018

Getting a self-directed learning (SDL) course off the ground is an enormous challenge for many organizations. While SDL empowers employees to make their own decisions and control the direction and pace of their learning (which can help improve engagement and learning results), it also relies on employees taking the initiative to learn.

Incentivizing self-directed learning programs so employees are encouraged to take the initiative helps. However, when the learning program’s content is bland and repetitive, it’s hard to get employees to engage with and complete the course.

One way to help learners engage with lesson content is to make sure that the content of the lessons is varied and meaningful—something that is engaging and provides benefit to the learner.

Learning programs that take advantage of video content can help improve engagement by adding variety to the program. This, in turn, helps to encourage learners to engage with and complete the self-directed learning program.

Some video-based learning benefits that can help encourage engagement with SDL programs include:

1) Online Learners Prefer Video to Text

In one survey conducted by Big Think, 350 university-educated online users were questioned about their preferences and experiences with online learning. According to the results of the survey:

“Given a choice between text and video of equal length on the same learning topic, more than twice as many online users chose video over text… Given two minutes to consume actionable advice on the topic, would they rather a) watch a video featuring a current CEO or b) read a text excerpt from a book? 70% chose the video.”

The results speak for themselves. Video-based learning, the preferred way of learning, makes it much more likely that employees will be motivated to initiate their SDL program.

2) Videos are More Engaging than Text

Not only did the survey find that learners prefer video content to text content, learners were also more engaged by—and thus benefited more from—short-form online learning videos than text lessons.

As noted in the survey article linked above:

“After watching the video or reading the excerpt, respondents were asked to agree or disagree that the material was ‘insightful,’ and whether they would be willing to view or read similar material again.

89% of video learners found the clip (featuring Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com) insightful, and 93% would repeat the experience. Meanwhile, only 65% of the excerpt readers chose ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree,’ and 69% would choose to read a similar text again.”

While the majority of both groups felt that the content was insightful and beneficial, there was a statistically significant difference (24%) in the rate that video learners were engaged vs. text learners.

3) Viewer Recognition = More Personal and Impactful Results

One of the reasons that videos are more engaging than text may be, in part, due to the presence of a trusted or well-known industry expert or peer in the video. As the survey results show, when asked to rank seven information sources in order of reliability (family, university, peer, industry leader, recruiters, media, and internet searches), “54% ranked Industry Leader in the top slot—more than all of the other choices combined. At 15%, Peer was the next highest-ranked source.”

Tony Hsieh is a well-known and trusted industry leader, so the video may have made a larger impact because he was featured in it. The learners saw and recognized his face and voice, not to mention his accomplishments, which helped the video make more of an impact. This can also help with retention of information.

Integrating Videos into Your Online SDL Program

Considering how much more impactful videos can be than text, it’s only natural to want to make all of your SDL content based on short-form online videos featuring renowned industry leaders. However, before you do that, here are a few tips for integrating video-based learning into your learning program so your employees can benefit from it:

  • Don’t Get “Tunnel Vision” with Video Content. While the survey shows that many learners engage more with video rather than text, there are still many who prefer text, and many benefit from it more. Video content should be part of a full range of multimedia content in the learning program—because there are many kinds of learners in your organization, each with their own preferences.
  • Keep Videos Short and Impactful. Some webinars and videos might need hours to fully cover a single topic. This makes it incredibly difficult for employees to balance watching learning videos with their regular job duties. Breaking these big topics into shorter, easier-to-manage pieces that each focus on one key concept or lesson helps make videos more watchable and understandable.
  • Reinforce Video Lessons with Workshops or Link Videos to Work Activities. Watching someone explain a concept is one thing—putting that information to use in the real world is another thing entirely. Many people learn best by doing rather than watching or reading. So, finding ways to create workshops or adding work tasks that leverage lesson content can help employees better remember the most important information from the learning program—improving training ROI.
  • Measure Results. Using online learning makes it much easier to track learning interactions for the organization as a whole. Data such as how many times a video is played, when videos are played, or the completion of certain activities (such as online assessments) can all be recorded and tracked to let organizations modify training content based on what is and is not working.

There are proven benefits of incorporating online video lessons into a self-directed learning program. Need to find the right video content to bolster your own learning program—including videos featuring trusted industry leaders? Try out a demo of Big Think Edge today to see exactly how our short-form videos can be integrated into your learning program!

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