There is a wealth of knowledge and inspiration waiting for you on YouTube, all generously created and shared with you by strangers. And the sheer number of videos on YouTube speaks to a deeper truth. Video works. It is popular. People like it, and your learners will too, because you know what? - they're people, too.
1. Using video to share knowledge
One of the outstanding characteristics of video is how easy it can be to share. A simple video (or even a whole catalog), uploaded to YouTube, can be shared with your friends and colleagues with a simple link in an email. And of course, if you use meta data sensibly to make your videos discoverable, you can share your magnum opus with millions of netizens around the globe, as with this lesson in how to tie a bow tie. Try describing this content verbally or imagine how you would build a course to demonstrate this. Now stop before you get a migraine.
2. Using video to educate the world
If you haven't checked out Kahn Academy videos, do. This is a riveting TED talk by Salman Kahn explaining the genesis of his Academy and how it is helping 'flip' classrooms around the world. A truly transformative use of learning technology with the promise to help millions of children around the world to reach their full potential.
3. Using video to teach us about elearning
There is a wealth of knowledge about every subject under the sun on YouTube. I heard there are even a couple of videos about cats.
Given the universal nature of the content to be found on YouTube it is no surprise that there are plenty of great videos about learning technologies safely stored on Google's servers. I chose this one as it is short, engaging and (judging by the questions we get asked at Omniplex on a daily basis) of great interest to a great many LMS administrators.
4. Using video to engage with humor
Video is an immensely powerful medium. The ease with which the content can be made emotionally engaging is something of which traditional elearning course developers can only dream of (and quite a few classroom teachers, too).
There is a reason why thousands of people don't flock to the movies to see the latest great slide-deck put together by Steven Spileberg. Mr Spielberg knows what works best for entertaining his audience. It's video. And, as the latest elearning authoring tools make it easy to include video as a part of a course, more and more of us are doing just this. So come on, let's put the fun back in the virtual classroom!
5. Using video to teach how to use software
This 'How to use Twitter' video is a really nice example of a super-easy to produce lesson on how to use a piece of software.
Of course, if you need to test your learners' proficiency then building a simulation in a tool such as Storyline will give you this functionality, and also allow you to add sophisticated capabilities such as 'try-me' modes with feedback and branching. But for a lot of 'on the job', information transfer tasks a simple video like this does the job.
I also really like the short segment at the beginning where you see the instructor's face; this makes the whole experience so much more human and welcoming.
The Small Print
Of course, videos are not the learning practitioner's panacea. If you want to measure and track, then video alone won't hack it. But by wrapping the video with other content and, yes, a good old test, it can still be part of the solution.
There is also the uncomfortable truth that video is inherently a passive technology with no interaction possible between the content and the content consumer, and as such is not a great approach for team learning exercises. (Interestingly the instinct to socialize is such that people are increasingly watching TV 'live' rather than recorded so they can join in the Twitter stream of strangers' views of the program as it screens. Which is really quite a charming analogue when you think about it?)
But what video does do, it does like no other medium. It can engage, inform, amuse, even scare (though I'd steer clear of making your instructional videos too harrowing). And it is increasingly cheap to produce and distribute (for cheap, read free). For all these reasons and more, video is becoming an evermore important tool in the learning professional's tool bag, and it is making life a lot more entertaining for both the trainer and the trainee!