How to use video in your eLearning

video presenter

Wondering how best to use video and audio in your e-learning?

We recently collaborated with Elucidat, whose authoring platform is used by many organisations to empower people-centred elearning.

We created a five-minute interactive piece to showcase Elucidat’s video and audio capabilities and help you decide which multimedia approach is right for your learning goals and budget.

Read moreHow to use video in your eLearning

The history of video: First things first

Everyone loves a pub quiz, right? Every flavour of crisps in the middle of the table, multiple pencils and a quirky team name. If there was a round on video we would ace it; we’d play our Joker card. If there was a round on video for learning, well, everyone else might as well go home.

How much do you know about video? Try your hand at these and score ten points for each correct answer…

Read moreThe history of video: First things first

eLN Glasgow – Show your work

shark eats girl

A couple of weeks ago we attended the eLearning Network Glasgow event ‘Show Your Work’. As my first eLN event and first event with Nice Media, the pressure was on (a slight exaggeration, but it’s always nice to make a good first impression). With Tom focused on his talk for the day, I was keen to meet some new people and get a feel for the latest L&D thinking especially with my new video production hat on.

Read moreeLN Glasgow – Show your work

Can a video drama impact behaviour change in an organisation?

Behaviour change is really the end goal for L&D professionals. Learning can only add value when employees not only absorb knowledge, but take incentive to apply it positively in their role. Looking at the L&D landscape and beyond to our digital lives, video is a clear frontrunner in providing a learning format which is engaging and digestible.

Read moreCan a video drama impact behaviour change in an organisation?

Goodies and Baddies – Drama doesn’t have to be black and white

When we say a drama needs to be based on a conflict, and that involves a protagonist and an antagonist, it brings to mind a hard-nosed clash that you’ve seen with Batman versus the Joker or James Bond shooting at Goldfinger.  This can sound alarm bells.  While such whizzbang, violent conflicts are great fun to do, they’re not usually what we seek in the world of corporate drama.  The next models that come to mind are perhaps soap operas and other more human-scale dramas.  But even these frequently feature stand-up rows and tears, not the sort of thing we can usually entertain.

The fact remains, however, that to articulate a story in drama, conflict is essential, and the starting point is a protagonist and an antagonist.  So, how can we make these characters realistic, but nevertheless credible in dramatic terms?

The protagonist and antagonist want the same thing, but disagree on how to achieve it.  In a corporate context, this could be two people trying to solve a problem at work with one following the received wisdom on the topic and the other stubbornly doing it their own way.  Depending on whether it’s a compliance drama or one about innovation, one of them is the protagonist and the other the antagonist.  They are both working for the good of the employer, but one is misguided, the other struggling to do the right thing.  In this little conflict, neither is really a goodie or a baddie, but one is a protagonist, who advances the cause of the drama, the other the antagonist who stands in the way of the correct working method being enacted.

The most important thing about the protagonist/antagonist structure in a learning drama is that the protagonist can champion the right way to do things without seeming to lecture the audience.  To do the right thing they need to fight for what they believe in.  Whereas if they just tell us what they believe, they come across as merely a rather boring conformist.

Of course, the protagonist doesn’t necessarily have to fight against another character, the antagonist could be a setting a process or an idea.  If our protagonist is trying to conquer a task we could tell the story like a sports movie.  Sport is a vehicle for the participant to objectify an internal struggle.  And this is how the drama is constructed.  It’s an inner struggle, articulated through the mechanisms of sport, which takes place amidst a variety of antagonistic outer forces which together form a collective “antagonist”.  So you could say the antagonist is a multi-headed beast – several characters and events that block the protagonist.  (Of course, I’m only talking about one common model of sports movie here, there are others).

A workplace learning example that could be structured similarly is crisis management.  Here the manager needs to control all the elements in the scenario rather as one might in a game of chess.  The crisis is characterized as the antagonist and the manager needs to manage it by moving the pieces on the board as it were.  Like a sports movie there will be antagonistic elements, such as an angry person who refuses to fall into line, but they are not the antagonist, they are just an element of it.

The other day I watched Eddie the Eagle with my 6-year-old boy.  It’s a movie about the British no-hoper who, against all the odds, got into the Olympics as a ski jumper.  I found it interesting that his route to the Olympics was in stages based on the size of the ski jumps he could tackle.  These are rather like learning points which became plot points in the story.  As a result, I learned quite a bit about the size of the jumps and other technical details.  But, of course, the thing I remember best is the moral of the story, which is that it’s not about winning it’s about playing, and if you set yourself against the odds people will appreciate your valiant efforts.  So, it affected me as a very anti-sport person, as rather effective pro-sport propaganda.  And for a few days I remembered something of the technicalities of the sport as well.

Coming back to goodies and baddies – one reason we don’t want passionate, violent clashes in our workplace dramas is that we don’t want them in the workplace.  On the other hand, if we were to take a workplace topic, something people are unlikely to get passionate about, and pump it up to the level of a melodrama, we’d have a very entertaining film which no-one would think for a moment is based in reality, but the audience would love it and would no doubt remember it and tell their friends.


Real Drama for Learning

Script consultancy: we work with your team to turn workaday content into something truly dramatic.

Training:  Using our conceptual toolkit, we work with your team to give an understanding of the basics of dramatic construction.

Agency support: working with you at the bid stage, we provide creative support to elevate your video-oriented eLearning idea into a winning pitch.

Production: From idea to final film we work with you throughout the journey.

 

Real Drama for Learning – using emotion to communicate ideas.

Read moreGoodies and Baddies – Drama doesn’t have to be black and white

Character in Real Drama for Learning

In this blog, we will be looking at how characters come alive in ‘Real Drama for Learning’.

Conflict is KING

Most people intuitively understand how dramatic story makes use of archetypical character functions (protagonist, antagonist, sidekick, sceptic, etc.) to bring contrasting aims and opinions in line with what the various characters want to achieve. In this blog, we will explain how this mechanism works when we introduce ‘Real Drama for Learning’.

In the real world, everyone experiences behaviour in colleagues that doesn’t sit well with them. In fact, we find it difficult to identify a work place where conflict doesn’t exist. In learning videos however, most often we see people pretending to be ‘professionally’ excited about issues that are not influenced by personal issues. And because of that we struggle to believe them.

On the other hand, we readily accept tense situations when watching a fictitious crisis unfold in a scenario where characters are tasked with preventing an escalating situation descend into full-scale disaster.

In ‘Real Drama for Learning’, we cross the line into that territory where learning situations become recognisable, identifiable and hence more believable and memorable.

Authenticity and believability

To create an authentic story universe, we need to understand the characters’ position and sympathise with their aims and struggles.

Actors can make characters look like real people if the script contains believable dialogue. A good script provides actors with personality traits that flow from being precisely tailored to portray the character they play and evolves naturally in the situation they’re in.

So, how do we create these characters – shaped by the words they speak?

Complexity

People have highly complex personalities. The more contrast or idiosyncrasy we see in people the more we tend to find them intriguing – or even fascinating. To mimic these traits in our fictitious characters, (irrespective of which story function their archetypical role fulfils), we need to give them contrasting yet believable character traits. Doing this makes the characters more complex and hence more identifiable and likeable, (or in some cases detestable – but still human). It also gives us the possibility of making them vulnerable and flawed. Further, by making them imperfect from the onset, it leaves room for character growth as the story evolves.

Archetypes vs. Stereotypes

Let’s begin by exploring how we differentiate between archetypes and stereotypes.

Stereotyping is a popular but simplified characterisation of people often made according to how they visually appear or behave. It’s a superficial judgment: all capitalists are greedy; all blondes are stupid; all white, male politicians are untrustworthy. Stereotyping also exists about cultures and countries: the English have bad teeth; Muslims are terrorists; the French are great lovers but smell of garlic, et cetera.

In drama, rather than stereotypes we use archetypes. Archetypes are how we assign a role to a character in a drama. The Hero, the Mentor, the Villain and so forth. They are less reductive than a stereotype because the same character can play a different archetype in a different story.

When constructing the character gallery, we always begin by pairing the two (and often only) main characters: The Protagonist and the Antagonist. These characters (as our caricatured Story Specialist, Zach Forsythe, explains in the Real Drama for Learning introductory video): “… must both want the same thing, but nevertheless be bitterly opposed.”

These conflicting characters are the drivers of the struggle. The theme for their conflict is the perceived dilemma of how to pursue the right or wrong ways of dealing with the subject matter. The achievements/setbacks (often peaking in so-called dramatic ‘plot points’) become the times/places/situations where the steps in the learning points journey are reached.

In Tom Hickmore’s blog Real Drama for Learning – an Introduction, we mentioned ‘The Problem with Brian’ – a story about how best to handle an employee’s absenteeism. To create the opposing opinions and aims, we created two characters (Protagonist and Antagonist) who both had an interest in solving the problem but based on opposite solutions. We created their personalities, equipped them with positive and negative behavioural traits and established an obvious growth opportunity for the Protagonist. These ingredients are all classic elements used in conventional storytelling. The happy ending, (the protagonist winning), leading to the moral of the story, provides our learning outcome. And the growth in the Protagonist’s character makes us want to side with the winner and adds value to the learning experience.

Follow in the ‘Hero’s Footsteps’

But why do we always sympathise with the ‘underdog’? Normally, we choose to sympathise with the character whose goal we find the noblest. In ‘Real Drama for Learning’ we associate this quality with the positive learning outcome by making the steps towards achieving the desired outcome – also called plot points – the same as the learning outcome steps that the learner needs to take and understand. This way we associate the learning process with situations that are both relevant and engaging.

The Matrix

We have created a consisting of a character matrix and lists of positive/negative personality traits that you might want to experiment with. We hope you enjoy the game of creating contrasting characters and discover how the opposing perceptions of your subject matter that this reveals makes for an exciting learning journey.

[gview file=”https://www.nicemedia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Real-Drama-for-Learning-Character-Design-Sheet.pdf”]


Real Drama for Learning

Script consultancy: we work with your team to turn workaday content into something truly dramatic.

Training:  Using our conceptual toolkit, we work with your team to give an understanding of the basics of dramatic construction.

Agency support: working with you at the bid stage, we provide creative support to elevate your video-oriented eLearning idea into a winning pitch.

Production: From idea to final film we work with you throughout the journey.

Real Drama for Learning – using emotion to communicate ideas.

Read moreCharacter in Real Drama for Learning