The power of visual information: Tips in getting started with video as educational materials

Posted by: KSG-admin Post Date: September 14, 2020

The power of visual information: Tips in getting started with video as educational materials

GUEST COLUMN

By Mrs. Elizabeth Owino, Senior Lecturer at KSG

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives. It has changed the way we offer our services at the Kenya School of Government. One such necessitated change is that School programs are now offered through the online platform. Subsequently, faculty has had to quickly adapt to using new training techniques and materials including the use of videos to complement virtual learning on the Learning Management System (LMS).

It is even clearer now that time is of essence and all those involved have been forced to learn by doing. Some lecturers have learnt faster than others and are currently trail blazing the online learning platforms. Others are just boarding. All the same, online learning is now the new normal and is sure to be with us even after the pandemic.

One way of facilitating online learning is through use of educational videos. Indeed, Deputy Director at the School’s e-Learning and Development Institute Ms. Vera Obonyo is categorical that KSG faculty do not have to wait to be perfect, but to pursue perfection as they soldier on.

The question many facilitators have often asked is why the use of videos. The answer is simple: Studies show that the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than plain text.

This means that the audience has a better chance of understanding and retaining information that is shared via a visual medium like a video. Similarly, educational videos need not to be very ostentatious. As a matter of fact, most of such videos show the syllabus, power point slides or the voice over the slides.

A number of tips that will help lecturers to get started. These include the ability to take a tip from already made videos. This requires one to spend time on channels like YouTube and view what is available in the media in the subject area. One can then make their own video in a unique offering. The bottom line is that it has to be different from what is already freely available online.

On the other hand, a lecturer can tap into the organizational resources or use another institution. If the organization, like KSG, is already implementing online learning, chances are there are already instructional videos giving guidance on how to make the videos. The facilitators who are not lucky to find any such material in their organization may find inexpensive online resources giving instructions on how to make videos. One may also ask colleagues for help since people adapt to online learning at different levels. Indeed, even at the School, colleagues who are already doing videos are at hand to help those experiencing difficulties developing their own.

There is need to always prepare and rehearse. Preparation is of importance if one wants their video to be a success. It has often been said, in many quarters, that practice makes perfect. Video making is just like running a marathon. One does not show up on race day having practiced only once and expect to win. Facilitators have to rehearse their script several times before recording it.

The most important tact is for the lecturer to be as natural as possible when recording the video. One should speak as they always would in the face to face sessions. Keeping one’s voice conversational is a top engagement technique. Indeed, keeping the videos in the same way one speaks will make connections with the learners deeper.

Facilitators are equally advised to keep the video short, at least 10 to 20 minutes. This can be done by limiting oneself to very specific objectives.
This follows the fact that the attention span of most learners is short hence it is prudent to focus on specific issues of the topic.

The best educational videos are those that focus on a single point. Dons should avoid being drawn into a sea of information. They should, instead, stick to one topic and provide examples to hammer the point home.

Knowing the audience well is cardinal. The Kenya School of Government offers programs for a varied category of clientele. As a premier government training institution mandated to build capacity of the public sector, it is of great importance that at any point one starts to make a video, there is need to consider the audience.

Before one starts to make a video they must not only ask the question ‘who is the audience’ but also answer the question conclusively. Research indicates that knowing the audience well guides decision making about the video to be developed. One must, therefore, ask a question like, ‘what is the audience’s problem?’ in order to understand the main points. This will guide what the audience will learn from the video and how the video will benefit them.

Finally, there has to be a call to action. Training is often geared towards a specific purpose and goal. The objectives could be to acquire skills, knowledge or attitudes. Including a call to action at the end of the video is a technique one could use to enhance appeal to the videos.

A call to action is a statement that encourages learners to perform a specific action. The learners could be encouraged to learn more about the topic, engage more with the faculty, or put into practice what they have learnt.