No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Lights, camera, action! Using video and DVD resources in the classroom


You don't have to be Spielberg to deliver effective video training. Hugh Murray gives his top tips for delivering a flawless presentation.

Video is a powerful medium for demonstrating behaviour and for stimulating discussion and learning. But you need to know how to use it. It doesn’t work at its best if you simply ask people to view it. You need to know how to extract all the value in it.


Showing your video or DVD


Video and DVD resources work because they enable the trainer to illustrate key skills and behaviour. They work best when the programme is portraying positive role models that the learner relates to and wishes to emulate. Talking heads and abstract scenes are good for imparting knowledge or information but are rarely as effective as drama for illustrating skills and behaviour. Drama videos are sometimes criticised for being set in a specific context. But without a context the behaviour of the characters cannot be understood or discussed.
"The best DVDs include ‘aha’ moments which simply and clearly communicate the core of the message to the learner."
To optimise the learning from viewing a DVD or video, learners must be encouraged to review what they have seen. Only once they have drawn general lessons from the programme can they plan how to apply what they have learned to their own work situations.
It is common for programmes to be cluttered with an overwhelming amount of content, as authors strive to illustrate everything they believe to be important in a subject. However DVD material, which has been expertly designed, illustrates just two or three key messages. The best DVDs include ‘aha’ moments which simply and clearly communicate the core of the message to the learner.
Showing a video or DVD in its entirety serves to give people an overview of the subject but your learners will only become seriously engaged when you show it in sections and work through each section in detail. DVDs, with their facility to ‘chapterise’ the content of the programme, make it easy to use individual short scenes to prompt discussion and to introduce a group activity. Most learning resources come with ready-made activities which are specifically designed to make the learning messages in the DVD highly relevant to the individual circumstances of the learner.


Reviewing the experience


Many trainers make the mistake of showing a video and then asking for reactions: 'what did you think of that?' This does not work for several reasons. One is that people give their opinions on the video rather than the issues it raises so you get comments on acting, lighting or storyline. Another is that it allows people to give meaningless answers: 'I thought it was great' or 'I hated it' without any engagement taking place. Here are some ways you can get effective reviews:
  1. Ask people to work in small groups or syndicates. Asking a general question of a large group does not work. Asking small groups to discuss a question and then to present their answers to the whole group invariably works
  2. Use 'reverse-expectation' questions. These involve asking the opposite of what people expect. So, for example, if you think people expect to be asked what a character did badly, ask them what that character did well. Asking a 'reverse-expectation' question causes your learners to review the scene much more carefully than they otherwise might
  3. Use 'might' questions. 'Why might Matt have said this?' Nobody knows why he actually said this but asking why he might have said it will trigger a thoughtful debate around the issues

These techniques will ensure that your learners actively review the material in the video and do not passively let it flow over them.


Drawing lessons


The next stage is to get people thinking beyond what they have seen in the video. You can help them to think about the wider issues for them. Without this step there will be no transfer of learning – your learners will not relate the lessons of the video to their lives.

Techniques for drawing general lessons include:
  1. Ask learners to put forward real-life experiences for discussion
  2. Ask 'what would you do?' questions. Put these questions to small groups for discussion and ask them to report back in a plenary session
  3. Ask 'supposing something else' questions. Suppose things hadn’t worked out as illustrated in the film – what then? What else might have happened?

These techniques ensure that your learners think about the issues and how they apply to them, rather than simply thinking about the video.


Applying the lessons


This is the stage at which people discover whether they have really taken on board the learning. You could ask people to plan how they are going to apply their learning back in the workplace. However this has an unreal feel to it and people who do not particularly enjoy this stage in the learning cycle may not do it very effectively. A much more effective approach is to build an activity (i.e. another experience) that will require your learners to apply what they have learned. The existence of this activity will cause your learners to plan how they are going to apply their learning and plan a new experience.


Extracting value from your video or DVD


By carefully planning how you are going to use the material in your video or DVD resource you can extract lasting value from the programme. The video provides reliable, consistent illustration of key skills and behaviours; ready-made activities, slides and handouts save you hours and hours of preparation time. What’s more you can use the programme over and over again with many different groups without additional cost. A well chosen resource will serve you for five years or more and will repay its price many times over. In the hands of a competent trainer, a well designed DVD programme provides the catalyst for highly effective learning.

Hugh Murray FCIPD is a co-founder and director of Scott Bradbury. Hugh researches, writes and directs the company’s range of DVD learning resources on subjects including, coaching, feedback, competencies and managing change. Examples of his work can be viewed at

Scott Bradbury is exhibiting at the World of Learning 2009, taking place at the NEC, Birmingham on 30 September and 1 October 2009. For more information visit or call +44 (0)20 8394 5171.

No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!