Let’s face it, most companies don’t have hundreds of thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars available in their courseware development budgets, but they still have a need to create effective training content for their employees, customers or channel partners.
High-end interactive e-learning content development can get expensive, and pushing out static PDFs or PowerPoints is a great way to make you the least-popular department in the entire company, a pariah at the annual company picnic.
The good news is that it is now easier and cheaper than ever to create engaging video content. If you plan carefully, you can even do this using a smartphone or inexpensive HD Video camera, and some consumer video editing software.
Here are some pre-production tips:
Create a script with a SME (Subject Matter Expert). You need to make sure that your learning objectives are covered and that the information is accurate.
When it comes to casting for the video, use someone who is articulate and has great energy. If your SME is great on camera, then even better, it will add credibility.
Script it into short, logical clips. This will help immensly during editing and uploading into the LMS.
Incorporate humour when appropriate. Your viewers will appreciate this greatly. If you are simply not funny, or if you think you may be crossing the line with a sensitive issue, then don’t do it.
Scout your locations to check for excessive noise and lighting conditions. It’s almost impossible to get rid of background noise later on, and having good lighting makes a huge difference in the perceived quaity of the final video. Natural light always works best for low budget videos, so shoot near a window if possible, or under the shade of a tree, for example. Full sun can cause glare, over-exposure and too much contrast so indirect natural light is best. Early morning or early evening natural lighting is always the nicest (the golden hour).
If you’re using an HD smartphone, make sure it’s in landscape mode (or “sideways” in layman’s terms). That sounds really obvious but it’s easy to forget if you don’t shoot a lot of video with your phone.
Shoot close-up when someone is talking (From shoulders to the top of their head). This is more engaging for the viewer and also will get you much better audio quality.
Listen for background noise. If you can, purchase and use a clip-on (lavalier or lapel microphone). You can get basic ones for under $50 from Best Buy and higher quality ones at your camera store. You can hide the cord under their shirt and clip the mic on near their collar.
Always use a tripod (you can get them for phones too). Shaky camera work is not cool. If you don’t have a tripod, then rest the side or bottom of your camera or phone up against a wall or on a table for stability.
Don’t be afraid to shoot mulitple takes until you get it right. You can always erase and shoot again (and again) if you start running low on space.
Take a few still photos of the scene. You may want to use these later in editing.
Try to create a dynamic pace. You can do this by inserting still images to reinforce a point, cutting away to close-ups of the subject that is being discussed, and using music in the background. Just make sure the music is not drowning out the dialogue.
Be sure to use royalty-free (legal) music and licensed stock images in your videos. You don’t want to get into trouble down the road for copyright infringement.
Output your videos as shorter lessons (5-10 minutes max). These can be sequenced and grouped into Chapters in Absorb. This makes it easier for the learner to complete the course in “chunks”, may reduce potential issues when streaming video over cellular networks and also allows you to insert quizzes and/or tasks and assignments in between lessons.
My favourite video editing software (Pinnacle Studio) costs only $99 and offers a lot of professional features. It also includes a library of royalty-free music and a host of special effects.
The other great thing about video is that it plays well across various devices and platforms. We recommend that you publish your videos as MP4 files and then import them as Video Lessons into your Absorb Online course.
Once you’ve added your video lessons to Absorb, you may want to insert Absorb Quizzes along the way, and perhaps a final Exam. You can adjust the weighting of each of the assessments as they apply to towards the learner’s final mark for the course.
You can also make the video files available for download by creating course-specific resources from the same source files.
Video is an effective learning tool and anyone can now make high-quality videos with a little planning and effort. Give it a try!