“We’ve been asked to train new hires through writing careful processes,” a reader asked recently on the Admin Pro Forum, “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
We asked experts for their take on the issue, and the consensus is that a mix of video and written instructions are best.
A video tutorial with screencasting is effective for teaching a computer program. Screencasting allows you to record a video of your computer screen along with a voice-over narrative, says Matt Pierce, learning and video ambassador for TechSmith. “It’s perfect for learning new software because the viewer sees firsthand how to navigate through the functions of the program while listening to the instructor,” he says.
Videos are good for tricky techniques that can’t be explained well with words. For example, Eva Doyle, a business consultant and author of The Reluctant Leader, says that as a knitter, the only way she can figure out certain techniques is through video.
Written instructions are important to have as a reference. It’s easier to skim through written instructions to find specific answers when you need them, Doyle says. If a video is used as a training tool, it should be followed with written materials to refresh what was learned.
Create training materials that cater to different learning types. Some people simply can’t focus on a video and need to move at their own speed with written materials. Others have a hard time retaining large amounts of text, so a blended approach with video and text is best, says Kelah Raymond, an HR performance strategist and founder of SPARC Solutions Group. “The blended approach with the ability to skip ahead, go backward or get context-specific help will yield the best results, as adults like to feel in control of their learning experience,” she says.