How to use interactive video for eLearning

interactive video


The growth of video eLearning keeps on accelerating. Using video in your learning experiences provides a more immersive experience and gives your learners more context than is possible with just text and images. Video is also becoming easier, faster and cheaper to produce and edit, and bandwidth has increased. Web technologies have advanced to a stage where interactions can be added over the top and inside of the video frame, which increases the overall immersive experience.

The term interactive video is a bit of an oxymoron. Video is a pre-recorded medium. It's never going to be fully interactive. 'Watching' is a passive verb. While video games are highly interactive, they don’t actually use video, instead relying on 3D graphics generated in real time in response to the user. There might be some pre-recorded material but the bulk of the experience is generated.

But this doesn't mean it's impossible to build great engaging experiences with pre-recorded video.

Approaches to interactive video in eLearning

The screenshots below are from a learning resource on running a meeting that Sprout Labs recently built using the interactive video features in Glasshouse.

Interactive video in eLearning: Giving your learners choices

There are a few different approaches to how to give your learners choices in interactive videos. Some examples:

  1. Branching video
    Pausing the video and asking a question which results in a new piece of video being played. This is a classic choose-your-own-adventure-style interaction. They are a great way to show the learner the consequence of actions and to give feedback. It means producing video for each choice.

  2. Observations
    Pausing the video and overlaying an interaction that asks the learner a question. It might just be an observation. Questions might be:

    1. What do think ... is feeling at this moment?
    2. If you were ... what you do?
    3. What are the hazards that just saw?

    The feedback for these types of interaction can be text only. In the example below, a committee member has just phoned the chair to say they are going to be late, and the interactive ask is for the learner to decide what actions they might take. This not does affect the actual video.

    video overlaid with interactive multiple choice buttons - Sprout Labs


  3. Interactive interview
    With this approach, the answers to a series of video questions are cut up into separate files and the learner clicks on the questions to trigger those sections of video. The learner can choose to watch the video in a different order or watch only the sections they need.

Tip: The challenges with interactive video remains bandwidth. Without getting too technical it's not always possible to jump around a video file on all servers, and loading new files is often slow. We have actually found video interactions that involve 'branching or jump interaction' the least useful.

Interactive video for eLearning: Hotspots for further information

'Hotspots' might appear at certain times in the video. When the learner clicks on one, the video is paused and more information is overlaid on top. In this example, a guide provides further information on how to run a meeting.

video with interactive hotspots that open a second explanatory video - Sprout Labs


Tip: When learners are engaged with an interactive video experience, it's odd for the medium being used to switch from video to text. They are in the mode of watching. Hotspot interactive video works best if they are video or images.     

If you're interested in building interactive video for eLearning and are looking for a platform that supports interactive video, check out Glasshouse.