Why Video?

Still trying to convince your colleagues and senior leaders that video is the way forward?

Here are some reasons and rigor to support you:

By 2019, internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer Internet traffic

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JEEP: just enough education to perform

JEEP Learning (we’re going for a new phrase for L+D buzzword bingo… want to join us?)

People are talking about learning being ‘just in time’. Accessible anywhere, anytime, and ‘on-the-job’. Relevant and instantly applicable, meeting the immediate need for the new bit of learning, proving just enough education to perform.

A conversation we often end up having when helping people create their own in-house video content is, how long should the video be? And does it even matter? And yet I highly doubt that anyone ever made a video and thought ‘well it’s 14 minutes long but I don’t really care if people watch it all as long as they watch the first half. The rest of my effortful creative content design is pointless anyway’.
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This week the See Learning Films crew have been working with engineers, and ‘train the trainers’ and the L+Ders that support engineers in manufacturing. Signs around the plant read “go home safely to your family today”.

The heat is on. Spring has finally decided to arrive (joy!) and, there is molten glass shooting from furnaces into huge glass bottle blowing machinery. The most impressive one makes 528 glass bottles per minute. I recognise those little brown stubbies especially on a hot day like today and my salivation is akin to the sweat on my brow from donning safety gear including a very fetching hard hat, at the thought of a cold drink. But the scene feels more like sitting in-front of a roaring fire… bright glowing orange fading to red, then warm brown. Only noisier.

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How Are You Using Video?

If you take time to notice it, you’ll find that learning actually happens everywhere, all the time, anyway! Whether you’re intending it or not – and especially so when you’re reflecting with the intention of extracting some learning from that good/bad/awful/amazing experience you had.

Same goes with video. It’s everywhere. As soon as you start to notice it..

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I’ve been watching some films from the archives. Although, they are by no means archives for the people who we created them with.

I’ve been watching some films we’ve done at See Learning, specifically with charities.

It’s some of our favourite work! Are we allowed to have favourites?

Why? Because of the nature of the content; the emotional work, and the emotional labour, and because of what filming allows us to capture, about the human condition. Real-play, not role-play.

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To Sell Is Human

I wouldn’t ever identify myself as ‘sales’. Whilst I enjoy the challenge of asking presentation skills workshop attendees to select an item from the room, talk about it for 5mins and ‘sell’ it… it’s still not sales. Or am I tarring sales with the brush that painted the door-to-door knockers that don’t pause when I say I’m busy working from home? Or the cashier who asks me 3 times if I want to open a store card, even though my first answer was “no, thank you”.

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On Thursday We Ate Pie

When did you last learn something?

What was is that you learnt?

How and where did you learn it?

I know that I can do some stuff. I’m a learning and development consultant, coach, facilitator, humanistic psychologist… I can design stuff, create stuff, find solutions, and I can hold most waves of emotion with and for others. But I struggle to keep my car maintained or change a tyre on my bike. (Don’t worry, I’m not one of the See Learning crew who holds the camera).

Two weeks ago I super-glued my fingers together trying to install an auto-light in the cellar, and I’m still opening my wardrobe door from the bottom because I haven’t/can’t fix(ed) the handle. Probably shouldn’t use the C-word here!

I am however, I doer and trier… and like to believe I can solve problems and be practical. I have a strong belief that I learn from and with others, but ultimately, I know I get a great sense of achievement when I see and recognise that I can do something new, independently.

On Monday night our oven broke; out cold, with blown fuse and element, right in the middle of trying to create something delicious for dinner. By Wednesday evening my partner and I had fixed it, and on Thursday we ate pie. Please, celebrate with me! I’m as proud of that as my academic achievements. And it was all down to YouTube (and £7.95).


Salman Khan (of Khan academy) has inspired young people, educators, parents, and adults globally to rethink their approach to learning and is on a mission to transform education through video (TED Talk here). 

When you’re trying to understand a new concept, do you need someone checking and asking if it make sense yet?

Stephen and I had approximately 3 cross words of frustration in the hours it took us to mend the oven. Mostly when we noticed the other person not quite getting what we could clearly see/understand from our own perspective. Be faster, be quicker…  get to where I am, would you!?

Khan has made learning videos available in the classroom (actually, they’re available anywhere and for anyone) so that groups of young people learning in a room together, actually learn at their own pace. The data available for teachers to provide specific and individualised input is incredible and he invites us to think not about ‘teacher:student ratio’, but about ‘student:valuable-human-time ratio’ instead. I’m a huge advocate of face-to-face group learning and facilitation. ‘Valuable-human-time’ is the richness in this. Unfortunately, I imagine most (if not all) of us have some memory of feeling our time is being wasted, whilst sitting in workplace ‘training’ that just doesn’t touch the edges. And with approaches like 70:20:10 now familiar to us, we know that most of our learning happens in role/at desk/on the job. Learning needs to be relevant, and accessible where and when we want to learn something.


Would you prefer to have the opportunity to pause, think, do, repeat – in your own time, and at your own pace? (There’s a reason we didn’t eat pie on Wednesday).

You could probably surmise that I didn’t enjoy learning to drive, and I don’t particularly enjoy driving. What I do love, is the freedom it gave me at 17 growing up in a rural village (road trip!), and the opportunity a car and drivers licence affords me. And yet, the frustration my parents endured trying to teach me, and the idea that ‘I’m not very good at it’ stays with me whenever my Dad, Mum or Sister are my passengers. I can pick up on their frustration that I’m not slick/fast/savvy enough behind the wheel. Which paradoxically makes me nervous and thus drive really poorly, when I’m actually pretty good (feedback via peers on road trip to Ireland).

Comparison and the unconscious influence from what we perceive others to believe about us has an impact on how we perform and whether we are in the right, optimum place (able to willingly step out of our comfort zone) to learn. Especially the challenging stuff.


Earlier this week I was catching up on a recorded Zoom chat with a group of people I do LandD stuff with. And in skillful and remarkable style, one of them summarised the key points and actions. Only, it was simply way too fast for me. Several of the actions were mine, and I had to rewind and repeat the summary, about 7 times (cringe face! Wait – should I be embarrassed?). Would I have asked them to slow down if we were in person? Would they have gone slower if it was in person rather than a recording?

Khan shares that when he initially launched his learning videos his cousins’ fedback that they preferred the automated video version of him, rather than the in-person version. Because they could pause the ‘video-Salman’ whilst they thought, and caught up, before playing again. The very short YouTube video that taught Stephen and I to fix the oven was paused, re-wound, repeated, paused, re-wound, repeated… until we got there. Self-paced, immediately relevant learning. Think what that could do!


[Insert: My 81 year old Grandad observing my Mum getting frustrated with her camera shutter trigger offered some advice “go on youtube! You can mend anything from youtube. I mended Carol’s (his wife) lawnmower the other other day” Are you with us in 2018?].

The power of objects in learning

Visuals:  pictures, drawings, videos, art, and objects can nuance beautifully with learning content – to take us deeper, to explore and understand complex ideas, to italicise specifics, or simply to try and render a window into a slice of reality that we might never otherwise encounter.

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LMFAO: Learning isn’t funny, is it?

Learning content isn’t funny is it? It’s a terribly serious endeavour. At school we got bollocked for laughing in class, shushed in the library, and rarely (if ever) were there jokes in the textbooks we read. so on reflection I’m surprised because whenever I see learning being delivered in a real-time environment in the Land of Adults, humour is (usually) there in some form.

I’m not saying that L&D practitioners should go to comedy school, but let me tell you a story that inspired this blog post…

A few years ago I received a brief from a very admirable and lovely, but nevertheless massively conservative global organisation, to do a health and safety training video.

I met with the health and safety manager who was also going to present the video. He was a very nice chap, and for the sake of this story I’ll call him Bob, because that was indeed his name.

Bob knew his stuff and he went on to deliver a precise but very serious presentation.

Whilst I was watching it, I had a flash back to when I had to watch videos like this in the past – you know – the typical ‘off the shelf’ corporate induction video teaching you how to lift a box into the back of a car etc – and that drool-assisted feeling in the training room of life slowly ebbing away.

So we wrapped up the filming – that was that – and I did the edit. My god it was boring. I could foresee people rolling their eyes and mentally switching off the minute the film would be played. So I wanted to do something about it.

Now I had a friendly relationship with the L&D team and knew that whilst the very serious video would be the one they would go with, it would be worth doing an alternative edit as an experiment.

That edit involved Bob doing the same presentation, whilst using cutaways that were connected to the content, but at the same time I threw  in some completely ridiculous shots. So I got a couple of friends to wear hard hats, and examine dangers such as banana skins on the floor, whilst measuring them with a ruler, and taking notes on a clip board whilst looking terribly serious.

This wasn’t exactly epic comedy, but the thing is the client told me the whole L&D department were literally in stitches, crying with laughter, when they watched it. It worked because the expectation was immediately set of ‘oh god it’s another health and safety video’ which followed the sense of relief where it detoured into something different but still relevant.

The thing was that whilst they indeed did not launch it across the organisation, the feedback was that the people who did watch it remained engaged to the video and still picked up the facts they needed.

And here lies the point I’m making really. I’m not suggesting that every L&D video needs to be injected with humour, but what I am saying is that I believe many L&D professionals are scared of even contemplating it, and here’s 3 reasons why, along with my thoughts:


Humour is a very subjective thing. Some people will not find it funny.

I’ve heard this a lot – not just in relation to video. This entirely depends on approach. Humour can be very simple, very subtle. The training video I mentioned above wasn’t exactly going to win any comedy awards, but it played off people’s expectations and that’s why it was funny.

Sometimes just the teensiest sliver of humour, that could simply be about grinding binary oppositions together or suchlike, is enough to send a wave of relief through the training room/computer screen – even if it’s just a blooper reel at the end of the video (everyone likes bloopers – although they tend to come at the end of a video).

What if the humour offends somebody? 

I would say that it’s not like you’re going to be getting Roy Chubby Brown and Frankie Boyle in to script it. It’s perfectly possible to have non-offensive humour.

Humour isn’t offensive by default.


What if humour undermines the learning content? 

I really don’t think it will if it’s well thought out and subtle. Humour doesn’t need to dominate the video, but can be used to simply break it up a bit. I think if it’s done right, it can actually increase the engagement of the content, even make it shareable (if your platform and course allows).

I’ve got a blog in the pipeline at the moment about ‘serious video’ – not just for L&D but also marketing. Aside from video for social media, video is a very serious endeavour, but when it’s not taken too seriously, or even if just for tiny little moments when humour appears, it can make a production feel more human.

Have you ever used humour in learning content you’ve created? We would love to hear some other real-life examples!


If you’re reading this blog article, then you probably saw my talk at WOLCE, so thank you for clicking through!

Here is the list (with links) to the three things you need to help boost the overall quality of video shot on your smartphone.

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