More than one billion people—almost one-third of everyone on the internet—are YouTube users. Research conducted by Cisco found that global IP video traffic will make up 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2020 (up from 70 percent in 2015). With the immense increase in online video consumption, it makes sense to transfer this interest into learning and development.

The Benefits of Video

Video, says Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify, is “just the way employees like to receive information in today’s modern world….If I need to learn how to install a doorknob in my house, the first place I go is YouTube. Employees want that same experience in the workplace and appreciate it when they get it.” Video provides increased accessibility by using close captioning and subtitles for people who are hard of hearing or who speak different languages. It also, Leaman says, “addresses illiteracy, which is a concern for many organizations.”

“We are all professional TV watchers,” says Ryan Eudy, CEO and managing partner of ej4. Using video in e-learning takes advantage of a platform and learning method that the audience is already familiar with. For example, when you watch TV, you can “hit pause” to Google an actor you recognize to see where you’ve seen him before. Similarly, when you watch training videos online, “you can look up what was just referenced and find additional resources while you watch.” And like TV, online training videos are also “great tools for triggering conversations.”

Thanks to technology, video is scalable and accessible. Providing video content on an LMS or internal website makes it easy to share, and that content is increasingly accessible on mobile devices as well. Video also enables the increasingly popular user-generated learning content; how many of us create videos on our phones in our personal lives?

“Expenses for classroom training add up quickly,” says Dean Pichee, president and CEO of BizLibrary. What’s more, “the majority of that training is forgotten by the time employees return to the job.” Using video enables employees to learn “anywhere and anytime.”

Best Uses of Video in E-Learning

Debbie Williams, vice president of content development for BizLibrary, believes that “video is effective in every capacity of training, because it’s based on the learning process of modeling—observing behaviors and copying them in a similar situation.” Video creates an immersive learning experience for both hard and soft skills.

Video is especially useful for microlearning. Since learners are already accustomed to watching short videos for entertainment, watching short videos to learn for work is an easy option. Online videos are also a great way to introduce new topics and model skills or behaviors. Leaman says that one of Axonify’s clients uses videos “to train their bakery associates on how to build a feature pie, for example.”

Eudy identifies four types of learning for which video is a great modality: pre-work to an instructor-led program, group training, retention and follow-up. “When you get a large group together,” he says, “people have different backgrounds, different professional experiences and different levels of knowledge.” If learners watch a video before attending an in-person class, they can boost their knowledge base.

Shannon Kluczny, vice president of client success at BizLibrary, says that their client Watco Companies found “ongoing video training to their dispersed workforce” to be “hugely beneficial to completing compliance training within a short timeframe.” Providing mobile content, including online videos, resulted in compliance training that took 67 percent less time than it did before.

Tips for Using Video Effectively

“Don’t overcomplicate the process,” Eudy says. “Keep it simple. And keep it short.” For complex topics, break the content into several small videos. The ideal length of a training video varies, but experts seem to agree that it should be very short—between one and four minutes. The short length, Williams says, “allows employees to fit training in every day, improving their ability to rapidly develop skills and generate new, innovative ideas.”

Leaman also says that effective training videos tell a story to make the content “engaging and memorable.” Incorporating “other cues like music, emotion and other techniques” will “deeply encode the core piece of knowledge in an employee’s brain.”

Eudy recommends appealing to a range of learning styles. Make the design and narration clear and simple, minimizing sound effects and distracting visuals, for visual and auditory learners. “Keep text to a reasonable size,” and “limit the amount of text” you display at one time.

What results have you seen from using video in e-learning? Join the discussion on LinkedIn!