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Thoughts from eLN Connect

Posted by Daniel Markland, 16th November, 2016
elearning, script writing, video drama

Last week I found myself diving head first into the world of Digital Learning at eLN Connect 2016 and being new to the industry I was keen to go to as many talks as possible and soak it all in.

After a few dizzying hours listening to professionals of every discipline my head was spinning. I felt like I’d been in a pinball machine of Gamification, Generation Z and Competent Compliance. I’d seen speakers from many different fields speaking on a variety of subjects but one theme kept re-emerging time after time. Engagement.

How do you keep learners interested? How do you keep content engaging and informative?

After taking full advantage of a fantastic lunch spread (courtesy of eLearning Network) it was time for the afternoon sessions and in keeping with this emerging theme our very own Tom Hickmore was giving a talk entitled How to Make Better Video Drama for Learning (and avoid boredom by committee)’.

In this session Tom presented two versions of a video on workplace bullying and encouraged the room to pick them apart. Both used the same actors, the same location and the same set up.

The first was… Fine. It fulfilled the brief, it was very well produced. It was… fine.

Except that it wasn’t fine – and after a bit of back and forth the room managed to abandon the crushing oh-so polite Britishness we all suffer from and say what they really thought.

It was boring! The message was clear, it was very informative and nobody could deny it fit the brief but it just wasn’t all that engaging. So what was the problem? In the end it came down to believability. The dialogue had a lot to answer for – It was all a bit staged and the conversation seemed forced and unnatural.

Conversely, the second video was much more enjoyable to watch. The conversation was much more natural and you felt a genuine connection to the characters. It still hit all the learning objectives but rather than being a sort of tick box exercise in which the message repeatedly punches you in the face, the key points were much more embedded in the story.

Unfortunately, all too often people end up with video number one – But why? A few theories came out of our discussion but in the end the room concluded it to be a simple case of ‘Too many cooks’.

Stakeholders of course have an important part to play in the development of a piece of learning but it seems all too often with so many things being shoe-horned in and so many last minute amends being made – video number one is all too often the outcome.

So how can we avoid this? This was the final question and probably the most difficult to answer. Luckily our Creative Director Tom had some ideas for the audience – which he outlines in his blog here.

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