Video content has become an integral part of the best e-learning content in the past few years. It’s easy to see why: Videos are ubiquitous on the internet. Almost everyone watches them. In fact, more than 80% of all internet traffic is video content. Plus, with the current widespread availability of mobile devices and cloud-based tools, video has become easily accessible. No matter whether you prefer to learn at home, on the move or in five-minute breaks in between shifts at work, video content has got you covered. What’s more, that ubiquity and availability of devices are becoming truly global. People across the world can access your e-learning courses – and pay you for the privilege of doing so – as long as your course content is carefully and accurately localised for their region. The e-learning market is due to be worth as much as £260 billion by 2025. Here’s how to use video to make sure your courses are getting you your fair share:

Why use videos in e-learning?

1) Video is the new normal

Video is the almost universally accepted way in which people like to receive information in the modern world. Whatever information you need, whatever you are trying to do – whether it’s learning a new language or locate a DIY fix for your home – odds on, a quick internet search will produce a video showing you how. People are used to this method of learning. Increasingly, they expect courses to include it.

2) It’s information-rich

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video might be worth a million. You can pack a lot of information into even a very short video. Combined with its ubiquity, this makes video a highly effective learning tool.

3) Video is cost-effective

Hiring or operating physical training facilities like classrooms on an ongoing basis will soon start to drain your funds. By comparison, video is highly cost-effective.

4) It conveys behaviour and emotion

Modelling your behaviour on what you see is a practice which humans learn at a young age. Learning via video content takes advantage of that. In addition, a great deal of information is held within a person’s expression and through moving images. It’s much easier to convey behaviour through a video than it is on the page.

5) It’s convenient

Learning that can be done on demand is vital in the modern workplace. For example, giving employees the option to learn when they are feeling receptive rather than enforcing strict classroom learning – the details of which are often forgotten the moment they return to the floor or office – has far more effective outcomes.

6) Video provides accessibility

Including videos in your e-learning courses greatly increases accessibility in the form of:

  • Closed captioning and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Support for people who find reading and writing difficult
  • Offering easy access from mobile devices

When to use videos in e-learning

There are many instances when using a video makes particular sense. These include:

  1. As a prelude and warm-up to classroom-based sessions or group training, ensuring all participants have a certain base knowledge level.
  2. For increased knowledge retention and follow-up purposes.
  3. For distance-based and dispersed workers.
  4. As a complement to other learning methods.
  5. When you want to boost your reach or target a global audience.

How to use videos in e-learning

1) Long vs short – consider your content length

Keeping the duration of your videos short is the most effective approach for most topics. Bite-size learning – the breaking up of video content into very small, highly manageable chunks – is often said to be one of the most powerful forms of e-learning available. The ideal length of a training video is likely to be somewhere between one and four minutes, though there are exceptions. In order to keep to this length when your topic is a complex one, consider having several shorter videos instead of one lengthy one. Yet there are times when a longer video might be called for. If the content is emotional or you are trying to communicate different behaviours and perspectives, a longer length might be desirable. Your guiding principle should always be your audience and your goals for your content.

2) Tell a story

The possibility of using a storytelling approach which videos offer has started to be exploited by e-learning course creators as well as advertisers and marketers in recent years. Having a narrative will help your audience engage with your content as well as increasing knowledge retention rates. You can use things like musical cues and other techniques usually used in film and television to make information more memorable.

3) Use a mix of learning styles

Including text, infographics and other information in your e-learning videos can help to make them more effective. However, it is important to bear in mind your audience. Many people are either visual or auditory learners, so muddying the waters too much can lead to confusion. Always strive for a mix of learning styles which is clear and doesn’t use too much of any one element. For example, a screen full of text will be very off-putting to all but the most visual of learners.

4) Plan for localisation to expand your reach

One of the biggest benefits of e-learning videos is that they can be localised and adapted for international audiences. This is of particular value and importance for organisations with multilingual and multicultural workforces. But it’s also a highly effective way to expand your audience no matter who you design your courses for. There are several ways you can choose to localise your e-learning video content. We’ll look at them below. But no matter which you choose, designing your e-learning course content – including your videos – with later localisation in mind should always be your goal. Proper planning and preparation – doing things like localising your script before you create any video content – will keep the timeframe required for localisation and translation costs down while retaining the high quality you need.

A note on transcription

When you are preparing to localise videos in e-learning materials, the first stage will almost certainly be producing a transcription of your video content. There are many benefits of transcribing your audio and video content, even if you are not intending to produce localised versions for other audiences:

  1. Increase your search rankings: unlike videos, transcriptions can be crawled by search engines. This adds to the SEO value of your content.
  2. Enable internal searches: for longer video and audio content, learners often need to locate certain references. Including a transcript – especially an interactive one – will make your content highly searchable, increasing the chances your ideas will be correctly referenced when called for.
  3. Add value for second-language learners: for people learning in their second language, having a transcript to read at the same time as watch the video is an incredibly valuable resource.
  4. Beat poor connectivity: for learners who don’t have a reliable internet connection, a transcript is a vital back-up way to access the important information contained within your video. Something which they might not otherwise be able to.

E-learning video localisation – tips and strategies

Planning for later localisation is going to make it easier, more cost-effective and more time-efficient to expand your e-learning video content’s reach to an international audience later on. Some of the best ways to do that include:

1) Remember text expansion between languages and speech

In written format, different languages require different amounts of space to convey the same message. The common is example is that a sentence written in German will usually require 30% or more space than the same sentence in English. Preparing for this text expansion is important when you are using graphics and text in your videos. The similar issue of how much text expands when spoken is even more important to remember when planning your videos.

2) Carefully consider your on-screen text usage

It’s a good idea to limit the amount of on-screen text you use. Using too much text creates problems in the form of:

  • Dividing attention: between written text and any simultaneous visual aspect of your video.
  • Disengagement from your content: this is especially true if you are also using text to provide a translation of what is being said in the form of closed captioning or subtitles.
  • Conflict with subtitles: you should also avoid placing other text in the part of the screen usually reserved for subtitles. This is usually the bottom third.

But using a little text can be an advantage for learners. As can providing a written transcript, for all of the reasons mentioned above.

3) Produce clear, well-paced audio

The process of planning how to create high-quality audio for transcription shares many similarities with that of creating video content for localisation. You will want to aim to avoid things like multiple speakers, especially if they might speak over the top of each other. This is important for the overall clarity of your message as well as when it comes to producing subtitling and captions. Consider the general pace of speech in your videos too. Are you going to be able to accommodate subtitles in that space?

4) Plan for maximum accessibility

One of the major advantages of e-learning is its sheer accessibility. To get the biggest benefit from this, it is important to ensure that your content is going to be accessible on the maximum number of platforms and devices. Different people have their individual preferences. Different regions also have their most popular tools and platforms. It’s always best practice to ensure your content is available where your audience wants to be able to interact with it.

5) Always localise your visual content

Taking into account the cultural norms, expectations and touchstones of your international audience is perhaps the most vital aspect of adapting your e-learning videos for people from different regions. Whether it’s who the people in your video are, what they are wearing, the things they are doing, the locations you are using, the times and dates you mention, the currency you refer to or anything else. It all needs to be localised to appear natural to your target international audience.

Dubbing vs subtitling vs multilingual videos vs picturisation

There are usually said to be four different ways of localising videos in e-learning courses:

1) Dubbing

Dubbing is the most common choice. For most video content, higher quality dubbing will involve lip-syncing – matching the localised script to the lip movements of the on-screen performers. One limitation when it comes to e-learning courses is that the exact wording of course content often cannot be altered to any great degree, making lip-syncing harder to achieve. But dubbing is still one of the most professional-looking and effective ways to localise your course for different regions. Especially if you are already using a lot of on-screen text.

2) Subtitling

Second only to dubbing in popularity, subtitling is – as long as you have built localisation into your course from the beginning – highly cost-effective and quick to implement. There is:

  • No need to match on-screen performance and audio: instead, you will need to take steps to ensure your subtitles don’t become unwieldy. Again, building localisation into your course creation process and writing localised scripts first will ensure this isn’t an issue.
  • Even greater accessibility: subtitles make your content accessible to deaf and hard of hearing learners. As well as being a good way to support all of your potential students, this is actually a legal requirement in many regions.

The only potential issues with subtitles are that they can result in learner disengagement from course materials and risk splitting attention. They can also be undesirable if you already use a large amount of on-screen text. One final consideration is ensuring that your visuals have enough space for subtitles. Traditionally, these are placed in the bottom third of the screen.

3) Multilingual Video

Re-shooting your original video content can get expensive. Fortunately, if you have built your localisation strategy into your course creation process from the beginning, this isn’t the case. In fact, multilingual video can even end up being more cost-effective than voice-overs or subtitling. Partly because you can do all of the necessary shooting at the same time. Plus, you:

  1. Target each region cost-effectively: this is frequently done with different performers or voice-over artists for specific languages. With a little professional assistance, sourcing this kind of talent is easy and straightforward.
  2. No subtitling or dubbing problems: lip-syncing isn’t an issue. Subtitling only needs to be considered when it comes to making your video legally compliant or accessible for deaf or hard of hearing learners.
  3. Huge audience engagement: a completely localised video like this is fantastic in terms of the audience engagement levels it produces. Every aspect, from the script to the performers to the set have all been specifically designed to be natural for someone from your target audience’s culture.

4) Picturisation

Picturisation is generally only an option when cost is your solitary concern. This relatively old-fashioned technique involves your video being replaced by a series of still shots with a voice-over. A picturised video will, by necessity, result in the cutting of some of your content. However, that voice-over won’t need to be matched to the pacing of your original video or lip-synced to the performance, reducing costs. Localising your video in this fashion will usually take quite a bit of time to create and properly review. When you are operating on a real shoe-string budget though, it might be worth considering.

How to make videos in e-learning affordable

There are many options when it comes to your initial forays into using videos in your e-learning content. These might include links to short existing video clips. Or in-house content created by skilled amateurs in your own team. But to create high-quality videos for e-learning content as well as to keep them affordable, your priority should always be to plan properly from the start. Especially if you think there’s any chance that localising your e-learning videos is going to be something you need later on. Do you use videos in your e-learning courses? Start today – and improve the reach and power of e-learning video content you already have – with Asian Absolute. We provide all of the expertise you need to localise your e-learning video content: Professional transcribers. Voice-over and dubbing talent. E-learning localisation specialists. Contact us and tell us what you need. Get a free, no-obligation quote or chat with an expert at any time.