I recently had a conversation with some of my fellow learning specialists on how to carry training further as the current work from home situation seems to be prolonging for an indefinite time. Several platforms and apps were named, and then somebody mentioned that their company was uploading all the onboarding PowerPoint presentations onto the organization’s learning platform so that new hires could simply access a link sent to their inboxes and cover all that information.
I have conducted many induction sessions in my day, and I have probably accumulated hundreds of hours of PowerPoint narration as a result. Indeed, this means of rendering information used to be the norm (and pretty awesome in its time of glory). Still, in 2020, with video-content consuming digital natives entering the workforce, e-learning designers have to opt for the more engaging version of rendering information.
4 Reasons why video training content is better than PowerPoint
There are just too many aspects that tip the balance in favor of video content nowadays. Here are the most relevant ones:
On design principles
Videos can follow the principles of instructional design, while PowerPoint is a linear unfolding of information. Planning learning interventions in video format allows us to shape them in a way that best suits the needs and preferences of the audience. Opting for a modular approach, designers can even accommodate several learning preferences simultaneously – experiential learners can start with the challenge while theoretical ones can choose to go for the exposition first.
Modern technology also makes it possible to have a high degree of interactivity with video content – which is not really an option when the course is all in PowerPoint. Furthermore, it’s a lot easier to highlight relevant items and make sure the focus of the participants falls on them when the material is in video form – highlighting and other functions are available in PPT as well but are not nearly as spectacular.
On learner engagement
Video content is engaging – the multitude of streaming platforms that are thriving today are proof of that. PowerPoint is very good for making presentations, but as all learning specialists know, it takes a whole lot more than that for a trainee to have their attention peaked and get immersed in the subject matter for long enough.
People get easily bored, and when it comes to e-learning, the in-person facilitator’s absence makes it paramount for the learners to be captivated by the content. If they’re not, they will either exit the app or focus elsewhere while the screens keep changing.
I’m not saying that all videos are highly engaging, but their potential for being eye- and mind-catching is substantially greater than slides of information and imagery going by in timed succession. Filming means that designers need to have less information written down, and that alone increases the odds of user engagement.
On information consistency
With PowerPoint, the learners have two sources of (sometimes conflicting) information. There is the written presentation, and then there is the voice-over. Even if it is all done flawlessly, the two were recorded separately, which hinders the audience’s attention.
On one hand, if the presenter is simply narrating the slides, it’s beside the point as people can read. On the other, if the voiceover gives more information or more in-depth explanations, it can cause distraction.
With video, everything can be tightly knit together for impeccable congruence. And since I’ve already mentioned the engaging quality that encourages learner immersion, the video experience can prove a lot more beneficial for information retention and even for self-questioning and a-ha moments as, at times, the point of an e-learning module is to alter behavior rather than educate or inform.
On meeting learner needs
Power Point offers the possibility of adding video, and that alone ought to be proof that the latter is the winning horse when it comes to user engagement, interactivity, and retention. While this function may have great merits when it comes to all kinds of presentations, learning these days is both a necessity and somewhat of a luxury, since people have limited time.
When they choose to access an e-learning module, its format should be the best answer to their educational needs, so instead of spending a lot of hours inserting engaging media content into a linear presentation, it’s best to opt for video from the get-go.
Instructional design needs to evolve to keep up with technological developments and user demands. And learners undoubtedly demand video learning content.
When I started as a trainer and instructional designer, PowerPoint was the latest and posh-est presentation app available. I used to love all those “fade in- fade out” text effects. But that was back when instructor-led training was the norm. E-learning has to be engaging, entertaining, and educational, so video is the better option for today.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.