We’ve come a long way since the early days of workplace video training — from the “bizarrely cheesy and wonderful training videos” of the 1980s to today’s virtual classrooms and interactive video experiences.

Indeed, Kaltura’s report “Video and Learning at Work: The State of Video in the Enterprise 2019” indicated that when it comes to learning and development (L&D), video still resonates with the modern workforce: More than 90% of respondents reported having used video to learn new information at their current workplace, and close to 70% said they preferred this medium over written documents.

In the era of video on demand, our love affair with video training makes sense. After all, the power of video is well documented and seems to be growing. Almost one-third of all people on the internet use YouTube (that’s over 1 billion people), and the average viewer spends almost seven hours each week watching online video. From 2016 to 2017, 70% of millennials turned to YouTube to learn something new.

Falling Concentration Levels

Volume isn’t necessarily the key when it comes to video training, however. Interestingly, close to three-quarters of respondents to Kaltura’s survey reported that they don’t always pay attention to training videos, with many opting to skim or multitask while they play.

This admission isn’t all that surprising, because it echoes the way we consume video outside of work, too. The digital world and its endless stimuli enable the constant fragmentation of our concentration. At work, our minds drift easily to emails, phone alerts and our to-do list. Consultant and former Apple and Microsoft executive Linda Stone coined a term for this phenomenon: continuous partial attention, or CPA. In other words, she says, “we want to connect and be connected.” The bottom line? Modern employees may not respond well to training videos that disconnect them from their working environment.

Learning in the Flow of Work

To maintain video’s effectiveness for workplace training in 2020, it’s important to remain agile. “Learning in the flow of work” means providing video training that supports performance rather than distracting from it. It is made possible by artificial intelligence (AI) programs built to identify what employees are working on and look for learning opportunities that can help. It’s similar to the “suggested for you” section on video streaming platforms, which uses AI to “learn” our preferences and promote movies and shows we might like. It’s a purposefully seamless process that feels intuitive.

Microlearning videos, for example, work particularly well for employees learning in the flow of work. They remove unnecessary content and focus on one issue or learning point at a time, making it easy for employees to pick up the knowledge they need in just a few minutes and then return to the task at hand.

Adaptive Learning

Video training is a cost-effective way for employers to ensure all their employees have access to the same learning content, and everybody has the same experience, especially when it comes to compliance training … right?

Unfortunately, the tenacity of some organizations in using this approach has given video training (and e-learning in general) a reputation for being overly homogeneous. Too often, it’s a “one-size-fits-all” approach that doesn’t do much to combat falling attention levels, or motivate employees to learn.

Thankfully, in 2020, we can offer something a little more personal while still enjoying all the benefits (e.g. versatility, accessibility and measurability) that video has to offer. Adaptive learning is designed to mitigate the effects of learner fatigue (that eye-rolling feeling learners experience when we feed them the same mandatory training year after year). It ensures that learners have access to fresh content by changing both the type of content (scenarios, microlearning, interactive challenges and so on) and adapting it for each learner. Employees only access content they actually need, without having to watch any superfluous videos.

Adaptive learning typically uses pre-testing to assess each learner’s skills, strengths and weakness. Then, content fills any gaps. Should a learner require additional or refresher training in certain areas, the platform promotes new content. It makes sense that video, with its multimedia capacity and versatility, would be ideal for organizations looking to implement adaptive learning in 2020.

Measuring Impact

Traditionally, companies sold technology-enabled workplace training on its measurability — that is, on its appeal as a data-friendly option that enabled organizations to easily test employees. However, measuring retention and recall should not be a mandatory outcome of training in 2020. The measurability of modern workplace training lies in performance data rather than scoring systems.

In this sense, video training is an effective medium, because it lends itself so well to scenario-based learning. Just take a look at KFC’s use of scenario-based training in virtual reality (VR) to see how video, particularly using emerging technology like VR, can enable organizations to test employee knowledge through their application of new skills (there’s also no health and safety risks!).

Using video scenarios enables the assessment of impact by requiring learners to face realistic challenges and solve complex problems using critical thinking. Essentially, it tests employees’ ability to apply knowledge rather than simply recall it. It also makes it easy to record other types of data, such as how long it takes learners to solve the problem, whether everyone makes the same mistakes so on.

This kind of performance data is invaluable when it comes to identifying and prioritizing individual learners’ needs, and using video enhances learner experience rather than stagnating it. After all, as training professionals, improving learning and performance is our responsibility.