Training videos and bigger brains

bigger-brainsReading through my daily news updates, this lead sentence caught my eye:  “People learning a new skill might pick it up more quickly by watching videos of other people performing the same task, a small new study suggests.”  This story, published online in the February 18, 2014 edition of HealthDay News was reposted on WebMd, a website I often turn to as a resource for healthcare information.

My intention was to share this story since we use many how-to videos in our basic skills training courses, especially in our online nursing assistant and caregiver training courses.  I started thinking about ways to enhance our online learners’ exposure to the videos and got a little sidetracked, especially when I read this finding in the study:  “People who viewed training videos experienced 11 times greater improvement in their motor skills than people not provided the videos…”

That’s a lot better result!  Eleven times is over 1,000% improvement from watching the videos – and that’s a very big deal when we’re teaching people skills in caring for frail, dependent elders.

Interestingly, the change wasn’t so much in producing “ah-ha” moments of learning as it was in the way the brain responded to the images of people performing the skills tasks.  In the study, the participants’ brains actually seemed to increase in size in the areas responding to motor control and processing the visual images.

We know that viewing images of people dramatically improves retention and connection to learning content, especially content that can feel a little abstract at times.  That’s the primary reason we build story-telling and high-impact visuals into every one of our online courses.  We use a saying that might sound a little simplistic, but we know it’s part of what makes our training courses effective – we tell all our course developers that we need to see “eyeballs on every page.”  That doesn’t refer to learners looking at the page, like it does in web design; it refers to actual images of people and their faces on most pages, grabbing attention and engaging the learner.

Want more effective training – WAY more effective training?  Incorporate the use of videos – or contact us!

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