3 Top Tips For Using Films In Custom eLearning Development

Using films in custom eLearning development is an expensive affair. Assuming you have a good story, you need to write a good script, find the best locations, the right equipment and put together a competent filmmaking team including, at the minimum, a director, a cameraman, actors, make-up artist, editor and sound designer. The more sophisticated the film, the larger this team gets, the more complex the shoot becomes and the whole thing can be a pretty costly affair.

So if you are going to use films in custom eLearning development, might as well do it right.

At Jilbee we have spent many years making films for learning purposes and here are our top recommendations on how to make them work:

1. Make them realistic
This is a requirement almost all of our clients give us. When we use films for eLearning the entire idea is to try and mirror real-life scenarios as much as possible. Films replace animations because animations – esp. using cartoon characters – can be a turn-off in the learning field since they do not feel realistic.

So if you want to demonstrate evacuation procedures after a fire, well, start a fire and film it! If you want to show how to administer first aid after an accident – then recreate an accident and film it. No, we’re not saying you need to get someone hurt. But most decent professional actors will be able to fake accidents – like slipping on a wet floor or falling off of a ladder – without getting themselves hurt and making it look real at the same time. Take a look below at some images from our eLearning videos:

Make It Realistic - Show A Fire!

Make It Realistic – Show A Fire!

To Show First-Aid, First Recreate An Accident

To Show First-Aid, First Recreate An Accident

2. Make them exciting
Film is a great medium to create excitement. A good director will be able to create suspense or drama. A good sound designer will be able to add the right music to keep your audience at the edge of their seats. And good actors will give be you the right expressions to connect you’re your audience. With film you will have the chance to finally get rid of the adjective “boring” which is often attributed to eLearning.

The making of an exciting film starts with the story. Yes, we build films for eLearning. But while you’re at it, why not build an exciting story? If you want to explain the dangers posed to your company by having different people accessing your open office space … then build a story with an “evil” cleaning lady, or the “spy” gardener. Of course, you’ll need to make sure you do not malign anyone but if you make it funny and serious at the same time, you’ll have a hit on your hands.

3. Keep them short
Your eLearning film is not going to be screened at the movie theater. So don’t make it a feature film. Don’t even go for a “short”. You should aim for 5 minutes max. The attention span of your learner isn’t greater than this. Remember that this is an eLearning film. Yes, you plan to make it exciting, but most likely the learning topic is not going to easily lend itself to excitement. Also the longer a film, the harder it will be to keep the viewer riveted. So, shorter the better.

Of course, making a short eLearning film is harder than making a long one. You will need to be very careful writing the script. You will need to make sure any dialogs the actors may have will fit your allotted time. Involve your editors early and let them know their constraints. And naturally, you’ll need to ensure that all pedagogical goals of the training can be made to fit the short film.

Good luck with using film in your custom eLearning development. Your learners will actually enjoy the experience.

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