6 Tips To Use Video To Make The Complex Simple

How To Use Video To Make The Complex Simple

On-the-job training, vocational training, or academic courses can all involve helping learners understand complex information. The scale of the challenge is often amplified by the fact that complex information is expressed using terminology that our learners aren't familiar with, terminology that tends to confuse rather than aid learners. Here is how to use microlearning and video to make the complex simple by applying these 6 tips to your Instructional Design.

1. Show Before Tell

You can use video to show learners a working example of a complex process, network, or product (or parts of it) before they are expected to understand or figure out how it works or how to build it. By doing this first, learners will have a frame of reference to support their understanding of the constituent parts.

Compare this video guide to building a halfpipe, which shows what the finished article looks like before explaining the steps in detail in subsequent videos, with this video guide to building a retaining wall, which shows you the first steps to building a retaining wall without first showing you what the finished wall will look like.

2. Explain/Illustrate The Details

Once learners have seen a working example, whether it be a complex DIY task or otherwise, video can be used to explain/illustrate parts of the system in detail. In the example above, subsequent videos go on to illustrate the different steps involved in building the halfpipe.

3. Break It Down Into Constituent Parts And Build It Up To A Coherent Whole

Following the principles of microlearning, you'll need to plan the entire series of videos before you start. The series of videos will need to cover all aspects of the complex system - it would be no good posting Steps 1 and 2 of a 3-step process after all!

4. Add Interactivity

To help learners consolidate the information, explore the topic in more detail and/or check their understanding, you can add interactivity to videos on popular video-hosting sites, rapid authoring tools or learning management systems:

5. Use A Consistent Format

Use the same format throughout your series of videos to make the content more accessible to learners (and the production of the videos more efficient for you). When learners are familiar with the format of your videos, it makes the content of subsequent videos more digestible.

6. Script Clear Definitions Of Terminology

Define all terminology that may not be familiar to the learners or that may have a less precise meaning in other contexts. Scripted definitions tend to be clearer as improvised explanations may end up too wordy, imprecise, and/or ambiguous. It can also be useful to test and refine your definitions before committing them to video.

I've applied these 6 tips to my series of videos that help students understand the complex assessment criteria of the world's most popular English language test for higher education and global migration: The International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

The bite-sized videos help learners understand the complexity of the IELTS Speaking criteria by...

  1. Using real, unscripted (unpracticed) answers from students speaking under test-like conditions who have recently taken an IELTS test (Tip 1).
  2. Focusing on a single part of the IELTS Speaking test and a single feature of the IELTS Speaking criteria in each video (Tip 2).
  3. Keeping each video to between 6 and 9 minutes long (Tip 3).
  4. Using interactive video functionality on YouTube to link to associated blog posts that provide further explanation and suggestions (Tip 4).
  5. Using the same format in each video (Tip 5).
  6. Providing clear definitions of the linguistic terminology used in the criteria (Tip 6).

The following example from the series shows an IELTS candidate from Russia (Efim) answering some IELTS Speaking questions and then goes on to illustrate how certain features of the student's speaking relate to a particular feature of the assessment criteria.

You can find the blog post associated with the video above at IELTS Speaking collocations.

Make video your go-to tool for making the complex simple.