If you’ve enrolled in any online courses lately, you’ve probably crossed paths with interactive video content. But just how well are learning platforms supporting this rapidly growing trend? That question has been on my mind while I’ve been evaluating LMS vendors for the 2022 Learning Systems Awards we’ll announce on September 7th.
Clearly, instructional videos aren’t new. In fact, historians say the first educational films appeared as far back as the early 1900s. Next, fast-forward to the start of this century. That’s when video took a huge step forward with the arrival of high-speed internet connectivity. This made it possible for digital video to play a central role in online and hybrid learning.
For example, consider how massively YouTube scaled soon after its founding in 2005. Its jaw-dropping growth was fueled in part by educational videos from sources like TED and Khan Academy.
Now in 2022, we’ve entered a whole new phase in the evolution of instructional video, as interactive content takes center stage. Of course, interest in interactive video was already surging before the pandemic. But today’s LMS buyers are clamoring for these capabilities because learners expect more sophisticated learning experiences.
Who can blame them? Traditional training videos are often a snooze fest. It’s easy to get distracted – and even easier to quickly forget whatever you may have learned. Fortunately, modern interactive video tools are helping training providers solve those common problems with much more ease. So let’s look at how learning systems are supporting this shift. But first, let’s define the term…
What is Interactive Video?
Interactive video is exactly what it promises. Rather than passively watching (or not watching) a standard instructional video, learners actively engage with video content in a variety of ways. Ultimately, this interactive experience improves learning outcomes.
Ironically, instructional designers originally deployed interactive functionality as a tactic to keep learners honest when consuming continuing education or other mandatory content. Now it’s actually integral to the learning process.
To illustrate, I’ve inserted a basic interactive video clip below. This was created with a WordPress plugin available from H5P.org:
You can see this integrates enhancements like bookmarks, questions, text pop-ups, speed controls and more. Obviously, this is a simple example, but doesn’t it seem more interesting?
LMS Vendors with Best Interactive Video Features
Recently, I surveyed Talented Learning Learning Systems Awards candidates to find out how they support interactive video. Here’s what they reported:
- 77% of vendors told us video is a critical feature among platform buyers.
- 40% said their solution includes some level of interactive video functionality.
While reviewing many of these solutions, I attended in-depth product demonstrations with vendor executives and other representatives. In my opinion, some of the most impressive interactive video capabilities are available from these companies:
AbsorbLMS, Authentic Learning Labs, Brainier, Cadmium, Crowd Wisdom, Cypher Learning, DigitalChalk, Docebo, NetExam, Schoox and Web Courseworks.
Do you want deep comparative information about the world’s top 40 learning systems vendors? Soon we’ll publish our 2023 Corporate Learning Systems Market Update report. To receive updates about this research and lock in an early-bird discount, enter your email address here:
Top Interactive Video LMS Features
Many learning systems deploy interactive video by leveraging the H5P.org open-source plug-in I mentioned above. Once deployed by a platform vendor, interactive video capabilities are available in the LMS without administrators, content creators or learners being aware that this capability is provided by a 3rd party.
This H5P.org interactive video plug-in offers an impressive feature set. However, alternative solutions are in the works. For example, numerous platform vendors are developing native capabilities for next-level integration and innovation within their LMS.
Not surprisingly, interactive video functionality differs from vendor to vendor. Although the following list is far from exhaustive, here are 10 types of interactive video features that LMS buyers value most:
Entry-Level Interactive Video LMS Features
- Embedded Questions – This is the most common interactive video feature set. It lets content developers embed questions that learners must answer as they move through a learning journey.
- Interactive Elements – Clickable buttons, text and hot spots draw attention to contextual information or activities that enhance the learning experience in various ways. For example, a button can encourage learners to open a related PDF document or website. Or a text call-out can nudge learners to share comments so they can accumulate social points. These elements can also be used in combination to involve learners in advanced scenario-based experiences.
- Transcription Upload – This function makes it possible to upload and sync a written translation of any video.
- Transcription Search – These tools let learners search a video transcript for a keyword or phrase, and then automatically advance to the spot where that word or phrase appears in the video.
- Control Panel – Video player capabilities give learners the ability to scrub forward or in reverse, adjust playback speed, add a bookmark and return to a specific location, or toggle full-screen mode on/off.
Advanced-Level Interactive Video LMS Features
- Automated Transcription – When a video is uploaded, the LMS uses AI-driven machine learning to automatically generate a written transcript that appears in a window next to the video.
- Automated Localization – With this next-level capability, machine learning translates a transcript into any number of languages, including instantly accessible localized subtitles and AI audio voice-over.
- Federated LMS Search – This function automatically indexes video transcripts for intra-course, intra-video results. This way, when a learner searches for a term or phrase within the LMS, video results are included. This approach is infinitely more useful than requiring a learning administrator to tag all videos.
- Branching Scenarios – The most advanced learning scenarios interpret specific learner responses to determine next-step video actions, scrubbing or adaptive learning paths. Branching scenarios are often used to facilitate skills practice for learners in professions like sales, leadership, healthcare, or even the military.
- Gamification and Social – These capabilities make it possible to assign points or awards, or to involve learners in social interactions. For instance, this can take the form of an “ask-an-expert” question/answer box, or a prompt that asks learners, “What would you do?” at pre-defined points in a video.
Bonus Interactive Video LMS Feature
Of course, I couldn’t end this list with only 10 features! Besides, no matter what level of interactive video you offer, you’ll want to track learner engagement and content performance. So be sure to look for this:
- Detailed Analytics – Many LMS vendors have moved far beyond basic “started” and “finished” video status tracking. The best analytics now include progress details such as when a video started, stopped, started again, and how long it stopped. They often track which elements learners clicked, how they answered questions and much more. All this data can potentially be combined with CRM or other business data, so learning organizations can identify relevant correlations and other patterns that lead to high-value insights.
Not long ago, video-based learning was cost-prohibitive, except in the most serious, high-end training environments. Then, as consumer-grade video became widely available for multiple purposes, learners became bored with passive, status-quo training videos.
But as an industry, we couldn’t let that continue, so we created interactive video functionality to improve learner engagement. Now, LMS vendors are stepping up to help ensure that learning outcomes improve, as well.
I can’t wait to see what features are next, as AI, ML, virtual reality and augmented reality start shaping interactive video in a much deeper way. And I hope you’re looking forward to leveraging these capabilities when they become more widely available. It’s an exciting time to be in the digital learning industry.
Thanks for reading!
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