Technology in training – a changing view

Technology continues its march towards enhancing every aspect of our lives and there are certainly few elements of our working life that remain untouched by the power of the PC. Training has moved on enormously since the days of the flipchart and PowerPoint is widely embracing new communication tools.

Investing in high quality training is appreciated by your staff. According to Wyzowl research, 40 per cent of employees say that staff development increases their loyalty. There is also evidence that employee retention is boosted by training with 20 per cent being more likely to stay with their company if they feel that they are being supported to make progress in their careers.

There are so many alternative applications of technology that can enhance the training experience for employees delivering significant benefits to your organisation including cost efficiency and, more importantly, better retention and results.

Tech-based training is starting to steal a march on traditional instructor-led delivery and technology-based learning is expanding with the advent of AI, virtual reality and gamification. Using the concept of a narrative or including challenges and tests as part of a training scenario can significantly boost engagement and the appeal of the material. Easy to use applications like Kahoot quiz software is fun to use and the Explain Everything app enables ideas and concepts to be sketched on an iPad.

Technology has provided a huge boost to mobile and online learning. In more advanced packages, human trainers are being replaced by avatars and the development of HTML5 and responsive design is giving a huge boost to the quality of the learning experience.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous adoption of technology within the training sphere is the incorporation of video. According to a LinkedIn workplace report, seven out of 10 organisations now rely on video-based materials as part of their learning culture.   

In an exploration of eight styles of learning Mindvalley’s Cheyenne Diaz highlights that the retention of facts is enhanced for visual learners by the inclusion of images and visual clues that help to reinforce the message.

Video offers huge flexibility when it is used in training delivery. In the workplace, in the classroom or as part of an awayday, video can be run anywhere, and can be viewed on an individual basis by anyone who has missed a group session. Mobile, distance or online learning that incorporates video can be accessed flexibly and played on demand. Video can be disseminated within email or utilised within a webinar as part of a live video conference. Interactivity can be promoted using a Q&A slot.

The variation in types of video is endless from screen-recorded demos and interactive animations to live action dramatisations, or a piece to camera by the CEO. They can make use of music, sound effects or a sonic logo as well as bringing infographics to life.

Below we explore how using video as part of a planned campaign of skills training delivery can make a significant impact on employee development.

Boost the impact of training with the moving image

It is important to bear in mind that different learning styles can affect the retention of information. For those who respond better to a visual stimulus, adding pictures to words helps recipients to retain your message for 55 per cent longer than just hearing it alone.    

Everyone absorbs information in different ways and it is wise to take account of that depending on whether your audience are social or solitary learners, or whether they respond to an auditory, physical or logical experience. After all, there is little doubt that video can really enhance the overall learning experience for all your staff because it appeals on so many levels. People simply enjoy watching video. Twenty-one per cent of people watch videos to learn something. Video promotes better engagement with training, encouraging your employees to identify with issues that are highly relevant within their own workplace. Using video increase viewers’ retention by three to six times compared with traditional communication methods.

Video training can be highly specific to your sector, even personalised to your organisation. With the production brief in your hands, your material will be applied and bespoke rather than generic and forgettable. Using video in training can help to change the culture of your organisation and is well-placed to bring your values to life.

Using video has a very practical benefit in its ability to help make your training budget reach further. Filming a single trainer can serve to deliver essential information and skills across your entire organisation and is easily repeatable.

Avoid the inevitable quality fade of sending an individual trainer out on the road. Once they have delivered their best session, their motivation may slide. Or they might simply be having a bad day. Film them at their best and you will effectively be able to bottle the magic and disseminate the same messages to as wide an audience as you need. Using video makes sense as a great way to deliver high quality training without repeatedly paying out large sums for the privilege, allowing you to maximise your investment in bespoke materials.

Using online video not only improves accessibility of materials, it also delivers a better consistency of experience which could avoid blurring or diluting messages. It can even be measurable if used online where you can monitor the click rate or embed registration.

Workforces are typically diverse with multiple sites, remote workers, and some employees based on the shop floor and others in a customer-facing role. It is often difficult to hit all the targets with a single programme of training or updating, and video lends itself to matching the flexibility within your staff base.

Evolving methodology – how to use video in training

There are almost as many applications for video in training as there are types of video. Firstly, it is important to consider what type of video will work best for your audience. Think about the context first. Will your material be viewed online as part of a webinar? Perhaps your audience will be watching via mobile tech on the small screens of smartphones and tablets? It is important to take these factors into account when planning and producing your content to create the best viewing experience for your target audience.

Consider whether to use infographic elements to break down complicated concepts as part of an explainer. Done well these may not even need a voiceover which reduces the burden of production and gives the video universal reach including across international boundaries. Add personality through talking heads or active demonstrations to create engagement.

Training can start with basic induction and onboarding for new team members. Using video is a great way to get the most essential messages across while at the same time conveying the essence of your company’s ethos and values. A positive experience of induction quickly helps new staff to develop a sense of belonging and promotes retention.

Video training works effectively across all industries and can be particularly helpful when precision and compliance is required. This might include the finance and banking sectors, or the medical profession, where procedures can be brought to life and the right way of doing something can be highlighted. Flight simulators have been in use by aircraft pilots for decades and there is no reason why any standardised process cannot be replicated and rolled out via video.   

Perhaps one of the most effective uses of video in training is for health and safety applications. In an environment where operational safety is essential to avoid a high risk of harm, the precision and consistency of video can provide a boost to impact. In addition to staff training, video can be used within the workplace to act as an eye-catching reminder about safe behaviours as well as ensuring that visitors stay safe in high risk environments.

In addition to professional development, video can usefully be used to launch new products and services, to demonstrate a new system or software, or to model best practice in customer service.

How to produce video that communicates your message

We have explored the potential impact that video could have on the training and development of your staff, as well as the benefits to your organisation of using this highly versatile and flexible medium. Now let’s look at the practicalities of producing and disseminating video for this purpose.

Firstly, you need to consider production values. Content is king with video and even the most rudimentary production can be effective if the messaging is right. However, your materials should always reflect the values of your brand so check how training materials complement your overall style of communication and tone of voice.

Pay attention to the sound quality of your audio and the lighting to make sure that your subject is clear. While it may be wise to employ a professional video producer, using your own staff in training videos will improve engagement as real-life scenarios make the message more easily digestible. Don’t forget that content can be customised for disparate audiences using variable graphics to accommodate different teams or locations. Keep your content as short as possible without diluting the message. Make sure it is dynamic and appealing to maximise engagement and keep it as accessible as possible.

There are several ways to improve accessibility of your materials including publishing them online with restricted access. You can deliver live training via webinar that is recorded for subsequent use. You can use social media to enhance live streaming and enable Q&As. You can gather large numbers of colleagues into a single location and use video to reach them all simultaneously.

It is vital to consider diversity when delivering training by video and making sure that nobody within your workforce is disadvantaged because special educational needs or disabilities prevent them from hearing or seeing the content. Use captions or audio description to make sure your materials are inclusive and accessible to all.

Remember that the medium of video also works offline. With developments in production technology, it is now possible to combine the benefits of video with the tangibility and personalisation of print.

You can create premium printed, but affordable, materials that incorporate an ultra-thin IPS video screen which plays automatically. Video can now be embedded within sophisticated brochures, static displays or almost any item that can be sent using direct mail. Each item can be personalised with ease for a location or individual recipient.

Including a tangible item as part of your course materials provides a reminder of the session and enables training delegates to revisit the classroom virtually at any time and re-live the training. Video brochures can complement face-to-face training if you record a training session and send it out as a follow-up tool.  Video in print applications can be tailored for individual sites or depots, or even for individual colleagues depending on the level of investment.

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