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Engage, Inspire, Educate and have Fun

It’s not just enough to Inform

With many years experience in video and television production, particularity in making educational and training films, I get asked a lot for feedback on people’s training videos.

What I see is that people are great at getting the didactic stuff right, they get all the learning points on screen and are very clear and logical in presenting the information they need the learner to get.

Great job? Well it’s a start

They are using video to replace the teacher or trainer, which is not the best use of this amazing medium. You need to engage and inspire your learner first before you teach them anything.

Engaging your Learners

Your first challenge is to make your video engaging. No matter how good the educational content is, I’m sorry, if it’s boring people will either watch it reluctantly (as they are in an environment where they are being shown the video and can’t escape) or not watch it at all. In a previous blog I wrote about How to make your videos engaging, and this is your first challenge.

How many things in this video use electricity?

How many did you get?

Thank you to the lovely Heather Urquhart and Jason Blackwater their amazing performance… What fun… And pretty engaging too right?

Now I could have made a video to where a voice over goes something like this:

“So many things in our life today rely on electricity to work, in fact, without electricity our lives would grind to a halt. The average house hold in the UK uses 4,000 KWh of electricity a year, and the more electronic devices you have on in your house the more you will use”

 Educationally correct, informative and useful information,  but not very engaging. The only benefit the teenagers are going to get from watching a video like I described about (and sadly see too often) are to learn more facts and figures which they can get from reading a pdf printout.

However, my video sets a challenge which means they have to concentrate on the video and it’s content to take part. The learning happens after they’ve watched the video when their science teacher builds up a list of the devices that everyone has spotted and can extend that learning in so many different ways with questions like:

  • which device uses the most electricity
  • are their alternatives to some of the devices that don’t use electricity
  • which devices used batteries and which mains electricity
  • have a look in this lab, how many things use electricity

The video engaged them, the learning happened after in the classroom.

 

Inspiring your Learners

Great, you’ve made an engaging video by putting a lot of energy into it. You might have used comedy or drama, or presented your knowledge passionately. That’s step one. You now need to inspire your learners to want to learn.

What exactly does that mean? Simply, you need to give your learners a reason why learning this stuff is important to them.


A few years ago I made a series of training videos to teach care-workers how to look after the elderly. In this video Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults we had to deal with the difficult subject of elder abuse and the law and regulations around that subject.

For research I watched many videos in this area before making this one and all of them just talked about the law, the care standards, the responsibilities of the care-worker. None of them gave the care-workers the why. Unless you give the learners a reason why they need to learn they are not going to be invested in their learning.

 

The why in this video is answered by saying, if you don’t follow the guidelines then this could happen to one of the service users under your care. The opening shot was a massive jolt to a lot of care-workers who watched the video, their reaction “I don’t want this to happen in my care home, I better pay attention”

 

Educating your Learners

That’s the bit that you are an expert in, you know your subject and the learning points you need to get across, so I will leave that to you because if you have engaged and inspired your learners this bit is easy.

Having fun is just a personal thing. I believe that if you are having fun in what you do you are more likely to remember the experience and want to repeat it. So if you want your learners to come back to you again and again you need to make the whole process fun.

 

Tbafta logohe ultimate accolade for a Television professional is to be nominated for a BAFTA, which is what happened to me for a children’s animation series I produced for the BBC a few years ago. The series was created to teach a young audience about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It was an engaging, inspiring and educational series for the audience and that is why is got the nomination.

I will talk more about the series in my blog tomorrow and show you one of the episodes, so keep an eye out.

 

 

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