Tuesday February 13th 2024

7 Key Considerations for Creating Effective E-Learning Videos

Our world is changing at a pace that can be very challenging to keep up with. Fortunately, we have amazing educational tools at our disposal that are both impressive and effective. One of the best tools that has seen a sharp rise in popularity in the last few years is e-learning videos. Brands, non-profit organizations and educators are putting e-learning videos to use to communicate their expertise, educate their partners and elevate their work.

Shopify Plus Academy - Produced by Archipelago

A considerate E-learning video series can be an effective tool for your brand that services a great benefit to your customers and audiences. Whether you’re just starting with e-learning, or looking to refine your process, these tips should help you get on the right track.

1. Humanity Helps

Let’s be honest, we spend a lot of time on screens scrolling past inauthentic content that doesn’t resonate with us. One thing that can help work against your viewer’s short attention span (and maybe cynicism?) to improve engagement is to lean into your presenter's humanity. Whether your content is being delivered by an expert or actor, allowing personality to come through goes a long way with audiences. Masterclass, the popular premium e-learning platform, has perfected the balance of substance and humanity. Their videos are first and foremost focused on delivering substantial learning. Because they want this knowledge to be remembered and retained, they allow their presenters to add personal touches and are encouraged to be themselves on camera. This technique results in a greater rate of engagement and retention vs a dry academic approach.

Shonda Rhimes: Writing for Television - Produced by Masterclass

Bringing out a subject’s personality isn’t always easy. Video production spaces can be intimidating and sometimes staring into a camera lens can make people feel stilted or robotic. The key is comfort. Some ways you can make your subject feel comfortable are:

  • Make sure the project has a director that is experienced with actors or non-actors. A good director can make any subject comfortable on camera, allowing them to communicate effectively and authentically.
  • Allow your subject to bring a fellow expert or support person to set, to help them if/when they’re drawing a blank.
  • Communicate every step of the process and allow space for questions and learning before you roll cameras.
  • Make sure every member of your crew is considerate and respectful toward the speaker, appreciating that they’re the ones on camera.
  • Have fun and take breaks. Non-actors and actors will perform better if they’re happy and have adequate time to rest

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience plays a large role in a successful e-learning series. Understanding to what degree your audience is already invested and ready to learn, will help inform your approach. You may have liberty to run longer, more substantial videos for an audience that is specialized, familiar and seeking out this type of content. On other occasions, it may be necessary to keep it broad, short and sweet. Key points for your checklist are:

  • Identify your audience’s primary demographic
  • Identify your audience’s motivation for watching
  • Identify your audience’s attention span
  • Identify your audience’s knowledge level
  • Identify your audience’s complementary interests

If you can get a sense for these 5 factors, your series will be more informed and effective.

3. Constantly Contextualize the Learning

If your audience has lost the thread, it’s more likely that they’ll become frustrated and your engagement will drop significantly. Providing constant contextualization is a helpful way to keep your audience engaged. Consider breaking every major point up with a quick title card and music que. Then when you cut back to your speaker, keep the section’s title somewhere low on the screen. This can be a cost-effective approach to drive retention. There’s no hard and fast rule for this, but having a title card appear at least every minute or 2, is a good way to make sure your audience doesn’t lose the thread. Another approach is to design and use original motion graphics to convey your subject’s ideas. Although there’s varying degrees of costs associated with this approach, simple motion graphics that support your lessons, combined with the authentic human subject speaking, has been shown to drastically increase retention. Here is an example of some of the motion graphics our team at Archipelago Productions created for a Shopify e-learning series.

Brainstation Online Live - Produced by Archipelago

4. Consider The Direct Approach and the Indirect Approach

Whenever possible, it’s preferable to have your subject create a connection with your audience, whether it be for information delivered by teleprompter or interview style prompts. Having your subject speak directly to the camera will create a sense of intimacy and trust. However, your subject may find that speaking to the camera makes it difficult to keep on topic and be themselves.Archipelago used a few different techniques to offer human connection behind the camera. When there is large amounts of text and specific information to be delivered, we like to mount the teleprompter to the main camera as a helpful tool to assure your host is connecting with audiences. We use programs that allow the text to flow naturally as the host speaks. If your speaker is well versed on the subject and needs helpful reminders, we suggest bullet-form prompts at appropriate times, similar to powerpoint presentation notes.If your speaker is delivering content in a more conversational manner and will be prompted by an interviewer, we like to use an Interetron approach developed by the Academy Award Winning Filmmaker Errol Morris. This contraption allows the viewer to see the director’s face as they look down the barrel of the lens. This allows conversation to happen more naturally while still connecting to audience. It may seem like a strange setup, but it works wonders!

Interrotron Concept

Sometimes your subject will be most comfortable, confident and effective when speaking to another person in the room, instead of engaging with technology. That’s okay! The best thing is to let them. When your subject needs to be in conversation and absolutely needs to speak to another person, the “interview” approach works well. Your subject won’t be looking into the camera, but will likely be very comfortable and confident. If you’re doing this approach, we recommend filming the interviewer as well as the subject.

5. Quality Matters

E-learning videos are the most cost-efficient professional videos to produce on a dollar-per-finished-minute ratio. This means that e-learning videos offer a great return on investment- but only if basic quality standards are met. Quality and trust go hand and hand. If you’ve prepared excellent lessons, but the video production looks cheap, your audience may associate that with the quality of the lessons and tune out (or not even tune in). Whether you’re working with our team at Archipelago, another trusted video provider, or your own internal team, you’re going to want to make sure that quality properly represents your brand and message. Two key factors in keeping quality high are, 1. ensuring that your subjects are well lit and 2. Ensuring your sound quality is clear. Achieving pleasing lighting for a simple, direct-to-camera setup is an inexpensive and effective way to keep production values high. Good sound is absolutely essential. Yes- video is a visual medium, but you will lose your audience with bad sound. From there, the sky's the limit on the types of tools, techniques and elements you can add to raise the production value of your video. Archipelago has used camera cranes, robot controlled camera dollies, advanced graphics and stylized sets to raise production values on a case-by-case basis. These are all “nice to have'' but you’ll want to make sure you absolutely have good lighting and good sound as a foundation.

6. Prioritize Accessibility

Making sure your content is accessible is an essential component for success. Incorporate closed captions, supply transcripts, and adopt a font size and colour scheme that facilitates ease of reading. Tailor your videos to be compatible with screen readers and additional assistive technologies. These considerations should be made at the project’s inception and planning stages, rather than at the end of the project.

7. Get It Right Before You Hit Record

A shoot day can be the most expensive part of a video project. Putting the time in to make sure your content is perfect before you go to camera ensures that your project is high quality and budget friendly. Here’s a helpful checklist of things to consider completing before the shoot day:

  1. Have course material read aloud and refined for quality control well in advance of the shoot to troubleshoot and anticipate any confusing areas.
  2. If your presenter is reading off a script, make sure it’s 100% perfect before the shoot day. Spelling and grammar counts here, as a misprint may lead to your subject breaking their flow.
  3. Select your subject’s wardrobe and clear it with production in advance of the shoot day.
  4. Have your subject get familiar with reading from a teleprompter in advance. We’re fans of this teleprompter simulator https://www.teleprompter-online.com/

Taking these steps can save you valuable on-set time, keep your subjects comfortable and save production costs.

Archipelago Productions has produced over 700 e-learning videos for brands like Google, Shopify, Brainstation, York University, RBC, Autism Ontario and many more. We’re here to share some of our tips and best practices, so your next e-learning video series is meeting your goals, on your budget.  

For any questions in regards to e-learning, Archipelago offers free consultations from real human experts that would be happy to help guide you through the process.

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