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Do you learn better from text or video?

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Question: "We've been asked to train new hires through writing careful processes, but it's also been suggested we mix in some short videos of our own making too. Does anyone have opinions on which types of tasks it's easier to learn through video than through reading the steps of a process? I'm particularly curious about which method we should use to teach computer software. I know I'm mostly a text-learner ... am I becoming a rare breed?" - Nathan, Administrative Support

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Debi Emerick May 19, 2017 at 4:56 pm

I think that having an effective mix of video and written instructions is the best route for two reasons. 1. there is no definitive way people learn best even changes from topic to topic for the individual; 2. having good videos that are clear and shows the procedures and trainings is a great tool, but also having the printed text to refer back to when in the mist of doing is important. It is easy to pull out clear and concise text at a moment’s notice when in the middle of actually doing the task. thank you Debi, Executive Admin

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Gail P. May 19, 2017 at 2:01 pm

I learn best when I am shown a video of a process… and can immediately refer to printed material for the details I might forget.

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Cheryl May 19, 2017 at 9:54 am

I am not much of a video learner. I learn best with text and screen shots. Love those screen shots!!!!

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Eline M. May 19, 2017 at 9:30 am

I recommend creating an SOP on PowerPoint. For example, my SOP for running payroll is on PowerPoint with detailed instructions and screen shots of each step. If I found we needed it, I could embed video instructions in the presentation to further clarify steps. I would, however, set each video with a “click to play” option so that the user can determine when and if they want to view it.

This gives the benefit of text instructions, visual enhancements through the screen shots and video learning. The presentation can then be viewed on hardcopy, the computer or during presentations.

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Susie May 18, 2017 at 8:44 pm

No, you are not a dying breed. I like to have a combination – reading with visuals. Learning new software through reading a procedural manual is good only if it includes screen shots with bubbles, comments, highlighted sections, arrows, etc. The best way to learn new software is hands-on accompanied by a succinct written procedure. If you only learned by video, then there isn’t a written process you can refer to to make sure you remember all the steps, especially if you don’t end up using the software for the next six months?

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Anne May 18, 2017 at 5:18 pm

Video use for technology is good if the employee can watch it more than once.

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Mere May 18, 2017 at 4:07 pm

I agree with Mark. Content needs to be available to meet the need of the adult learner. Adult learning can be visual (ie written processes, presentations), auditory (ie recordings) or kinesthetic (ie hands on). Most adults prefer some combination of these, so it’s important to have multi-media options. For IT software, I think it would be very important to include screen shots for future reference, but a video clip would also be helpful. Have you asked the people who are well-versed in the processes how they would teach someone new? You might get some good suggestions and creative ideas.

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Mark May 18, 2017 at 10:20 am

This truly is different person-to-person. Some (like me) learn best by reading. Some retain training more if there is a visual demonstration such as video. Others learn more by hands-on demonstrations. Many books I’ve read on training suggest that a business utilize a combination of training methods, not only to shake things up so the entire training/orientation doesn’t become monotonous from the same style of training, but also so that there is a mix of presentment styles to match the mix of presentment presentations from the employees involved.

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