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Video – More Than a Spectator Sport (Part 1)


By Mary Word

Video is an increasing presence in eLearning, especially as it becomes easier and easier to produce your own video. In the past it required a substantial financial outlay in equipment to get the raw material and turn it into a professional end product. Today, almost anyone with a smart phone can get a pretty decent recording and do basic editing.

In a way video is at a stage similar to the beginning of desktop editing, when suddenly everyone had the power to lay out a page of type and clip art and images any way they wanted, with all the fonts and colors… I still remember the professor in my desktop publishing course shuddering as he talked about some of the end products of all that power in the hands of people who had no design experience or training. The temptation is use it all! A dozen decorative fonts and every paragraph a different color! Just because you can. But you must learn to use the Force wisely, and not succumb to the dark side.

Video can be a powerful tool, but it requires training as well as solid design and technical skills to produce a successful product. A static video, even talking heads, needs creativity and control to make it watchable and useful to the user. One of the presentations at the ELS (E-Learning Symposium) I attended recently took video for eLearning to a new level, and shared with us some excellent ways to make video an interactive part of a training strategy.

The Engage Your Learners with Interactive Video presentation by David Anderson certainly engaged me, and the rest of his audience as well. There was far too much information to cover in a blog post, so I will restrict myself to the takeaways I wrote down on the action sheet we were given as part of our conference packet. When you have a small area to write down the most important points you hear, it really helps you choose the things you want to remember.

This was my list:

  • Cinemagraph (adds energy) (like an animated gif)
  • Creative uses of video and clips
  • Branching choices

Just those three cover a lot of territory.

First the fun one. Cinemagraph—a fairly new term. This is a bit analogous to the pictures you see where the color is removed from all but one part, like a girl holding a vibrantly red rose with all of the rest of the picture in black and white. In the case of a cinemagraph, instead of a spot of color, there is a spot of motion. Here are a few examples to give you the idea:

There are apps and programs and instructions easily found on the web. Some call it a revival of the animated gif, which seems closer to the process than the product. David’s point was that you can add energy to a page by using a cinemagraph instead of a still image. Just that little flicker of movement catches the eye and your attention.

We’ll post more about David’s presentation at the eLearning Council Blog at

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