The "Khan Academy" Revolution: Why Video First Training is Effective

00:31:41 | May 7, 2015

Consumers flood to sites like Khan Academy and to learn everything from trigonometry to using email. These sites are what we call "video first" training sites. The data suggests a strong trend toward this style of learning.

Yet, organizations still rely on classroom style training. In fact, nearly 60% of all companies do.

This webinar will introduce what "video-first" training is and what it means for training at your organization.

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Why video first training is surging in popularity and why it can be useful for your organization. Thank you guys for joining us today. My name is Kieran Farr. I am the founder and CEO of Vidcaster and I'm joined today by my colleague from our marketing team, Erik Ducker, who helped organize this presentation. Thanks, Erik. So why are we here today? We are seeing a revolution in the way that consumers are seeking out training and learning. You may have heard of sites like the Khan Academy or and the numbers speak for themselves. Let's take a look at this basic trigonometry video. This is like sine, cosine stuff, right-- 1.2 million views. The Khan Academy has over 10 million unique users every single month. Or how about this video from This is an territorial, how to use Microsoft Outlook, that has hundreds of thousands of views. Lynda gets over 3 million new users every single month. So we are seeing in consumer behavior that people prefer video first resource libraries when they have a problem that they're trying to solve. The numbers speak for themselves. Yet, when we look at corporations, over 60% of large organizations and companies still rely on classroom methods of training exclusively at their organizations. Now, that said, in a recent survey 78% of organizations said they wanted to transition from this traditional learning model into an on demand or video component but they're struggling with how to make this happen and also why-- what is the actual difference in the quality of the experience for your trainees? So that's a topic we're going to be covering today-- what is video first training, what are the advantages, and how do we get started to make a video first training experience for my organization? So that's our agenda for today. We just a quick intro. We're going to tell you a bit about who we are and what our experience is in the training space, why so many companies are using what we call the old school or classroom style training method. We're going to talk about the different training approaches. We're going to discuss how video first training actually works, like what does it look like, what's that mean? We'll talk about the benefits of video first training and how that interacts with your existing systems like you're learning management system. And then we'll have a summary at the end and the opportunity for question and answer at the end of this presentation. So first of all, who are we? What is Vidcaster? Vidcaster is a suite of technology tools that provides video training infrastructure for Fortune 500 companies. Myself, my name's Kieran, I have over 10 years of video production and distribution experience prior to starting this company. I also have experience as a software developer. Today we're going to be sharing with you our learnings from working directly with some of the nation's top brands like Chevron, VMware, Rotary International, and Dave and Buster's. We're excited to share this learning experience with you and hope that you guys find this useful. So why is training important? Why does this even matter? Training is a massive industry. In 2013 it was ranked at almost $300 billion in terms of global training expenditures at nonprofits and for profit companies. A recent survey we found indicates that close to 50%, 40% percent of employees, who receive poor job training leave their job in the first year. So not only is this something that we see significant investment in, training is also critical in order to retain customers, employees, and other stakeholders within your organization for them to be successful. And that's the point-- really, the success of your business depends on quality training. Your employees, your customers, and any stakeholders of your organization benefit from high quality training experiences. So we get the value of training. We understand that. And if we get that, then why are so many companies using the older school training methods? First of all, let's look at what companies are doing right now. If we look at the numbers and statistics, we see three primary methods that most organizations are using today. We'll look at the actual numbers in a second but here's the summary. There's seminars or in person classroom training, there's documents-- that three ring binder 3 inches thick that's plopped down onto your desk when you start a job-- and increasingly we're seeing conversion to online training methods. Yet, when we look at these training methods, even some of the newer technologies around online training, these all follow a classic approach that we call syllabus led training or a fixed learning path. And what this means is that you're creating a concrete fixed path that your trainees must follow. This is a prescribed path, and assessment at the end of this training is typically in the format of a final exam. Like I mentioned at the high level, we see organizations that use the traditional classroom style method of training in more than 50% percent of cases. And this is true from small companies up to large companies. We're seeing an increase in the transition to online or computer based methods, but surprisingly, this is significantly lacking if we look at the percentage of training techniques used at modern organizations today, and this data is really just from the last year. So there's a lot of room for improvement and we'd like to talk a little bit about why we're still using the old methods, why are we using syllabus led training? So if we think about it, every single person who can watch this video, anybody who's been born in the last 100 years, we have grown up with fixed path training. This started from kindergarten. It started in elementary school, in your high school, and in college. We have been taught, literally, to follow a path that's taught by the instructor, the one to many model where somebody dictates to me here is what you need to learn, you're going to learn it and then prove to me you learned it. There's a lot of reasons for this. Like I mentioned, we were raised this way. It's ingrained into the way that we think about training and education. Now, frankly, it's also easier for instructional designers and teachers to create one path. It can be complex to think about accommodating multiple methods of training for a large audience. And finally, it is standard practice. It is a tried and true method for centuries, literally. We have been using fixed password syllabus led training methods. And it seems to work OK, so why do we want to change what we're doing? As we've seen technology be introduced into corporate training and education, we're seeing that although these are new systems and they're using technologies like our mobile devices and computers, that said, we're still seeing the same essential style of training, a fixed path-- learning management systems, course authoring tool wares-- they're all still assigning this paradigm of you're going to follow a path, you're going to like it, you're going to take an assessment, and then you're done learning. And we believe that's a flawed mechanism. And so we really liked the concepts, and what we've come up with is the concept of self-directed training. And this is a concept of creating training resources that your audience, your stakeholders, can use anytime, anywhere. And here's the way to start thinking differently about training. We're not talking about a classroom, we're talking about a library. Your trainee, your stakeholders-- they're smart, they know their problems, and we're trading them like mature modern adults who need to solve problems they have in front of them. So this is why we really like the concept of a library. People have problems all the time. It's not just when you first start to be an employee, it's not just when you first start to be a customer, it's not just when you're considering purchasing a product-- this is an ongoing process. So we want to be able to produce an environment where we make these resources available anytime, anywhere, in a way that can be easily found. There's a new trend that we're hearing people mention, which is called just in time training, and it's really the same concept-- making this information accessible anywhere at any time. Now, when I mention self-directed training a lot of people ask, well, does this mean it's unstructured? How do people know what to do? So I want to be really clear-- no. This is not unstructured, that's not what we're talking about. There's still a structure, and we'll look at this in a few minutes and actually understand how you can create this structure, but we're allowing people to stray off of the suggested path. That's the important point here-- we're not restricting our audience, but we do provide context and a suggested framework for them to understand this material and navigate through your library. So what about assessment? When we talk about a self-directed training and learning flow, assessment is a really different thing. Not everyone's going to be consuming the same content so we can't have one gigantic final exam that meets everybody's needs. So if we look at the continuum of different types of assessments that we've seen in different projects, here's the continuum we see. On the far left side we have the final exam. That's the monolithic assumption that everyone's seeing the same content, we're going to have one big final exam. And what happens in most cases is that the learner is incentivized to memorize this material in order to pass the exam, then they kind of throw it away. And the result is often that employees don't retain this information, even though were able to show comprehension within the first 24 to 48 hours. Now, in the middle of the continuum here, its assessment types include things like, well, how much content have I consumed? The learner is incentivized to find the video content or training content that is relevant to what they do. The result is that the employee is not wasting their time finding information that really is truly important to them, but we're lacking the real assessment comprehension as to whether or not they actually understood this material. Now, what we're finding is that there is a way that we can merge both of these worlds to really have kind of a best of breed, and this is a mixed type of assessment where we mix together the concepts of time-- how much content we are consuming-- and interspersed within that, to have quizzing or comprehension micro quizzes within that content. And the result is that not only do you allow the trainee to find the content they want that's valuable to them, but we're also able to have check in assessment to prove that that content was actually understood. Now, one of the new trends we're seeing is that we wrap that concept together, again the concept of allowing people to get credit for what they consume and getting credit for comprehension, and we can wrap this in something that's really awesome for our trainees, something that's fun. And often we call this gamification. Here's an example of a gamification platform that's actually compatible with Vidcaster. And as you can see here, this is an example of kind of the badge or your report card, where I'm not just getting credit for taking a test, I'm actually getting credit for engaging with this material, leaving a comment, sharing this with other employees, liking this. And that's what we see as the future of self-directed training and training in general in organizations. But it's not just us, right? We're seeing this trend across the consumer world with B2C companies like we mentioned before, the Khan Academy or, and a significant growth in the use of this style of learning for businesses in to B2B use cases. A great example of this is a company called Document Technologies, Incorporated. They used to have a very syllabus led training experience. They launched an internal video portal that allowed them to create a knowledge base of all the common questions that people have at the organization, whether it's as a new employee or even experienced employees. Within the first few weeks, they saw a 500% increase in the engagement of the employees with their Learning Library compared to their legacy syllabus led solution. Another good example is a company called They used online video training to turn their power users, their customers, into raving fans and actually become resellers. After a one-year pilot they were able to show a significant correlation between those they took the self-directed training course and accomplished a threshold of content consumption. They correlated that data with those customers that ended up becoming the high value resellers. They saw a direct correlation. And again, we're not forcing people to go through this program. The Wix problem was completely optional but they saw that there was that connection and having the self-directed training program resulted in a significant success for their organization. So if we summarize this, the key difference between these approaches can be summarized by the difference between memorization and internalization. So memorization is the process of committing something to memory but internalization is to incorporate that within your being, to actually know how I'm able to solve this problem when needed. And a really important part of this is that sometimes we don't need to memorize every single fact. And really, a good training program is also training people how do you find the answers to your problems when you have them in the future? And again, that's the difference between a library and a classroom, and where we do see that the way the market's moving is much more the direction of the self driven training approach. I like this quote that memorization is for today and internalization is for every day. So how does video first training work? What are we talking about here? So what we're really talking about is the concept of a library, right, and a virtual library. And you as the instructional designer, you are the one who's organizing well, how is that going to be best situation and categorized so that when our stakeholders need to find information that they can do so quickly and with a logical sort of structure? So this is a great example that we see here, where we have the organizational structure listed around, well, who's the stakeholder? Who's consuming this content? So we have content for employees, we have content for supervisors, and then we have content for HR executives. And each one of these, then, can drill down to more specific categories. But the point here is that we're providing a suggested path. We're not forcing them to go down this path. In this example, this organization makes this content available to anyone. And this is really interesting if we start thinking about things like advancement within an organization. We're not making the content for supervisors or executives exclusive to those supervisors or executives. In fact, we want to promote our employees to consume this information. This is a good thing. And by providing this sort of structure, we allow them to jump around and find the answers their questions or the solutions to their problems that are most relevant to them. Here's another good example by division of Chevron in their Quadrant Plastics Division. If we look at the way they've organized the structure-- and I apologize, it's a little hard to see-- but we see an organizational structure around industries, who do they serve, materials-- so here's the type of materials that we manufacture and work with-- expert tips and advice. So this is actually training from other employees of the organization around their experience working in this industry. And then finally, this is a funny section-- the people behind the plastic. So this is a fun section where we actually get to see and meet the rest of our team, again in a self-directed flow as a new employee. This is a great way for you to be able to get familiar with the organization. And in just these two examples we start to see the potential for gosh, there's a really good way to customize the experience for my specific industry, my company, my application, and provide that framework yet we don't force people down that framework. We make it accessible so that if I have a problem at any time and I want to find out how do I address the issue I'm having with a specific material or in this specific industry that I'm selling against, I know where to find this and I can find it immediately as a stakeholder in this organization. Once I drill into this, then I have much more information and I can find related content that is in the same category. Now, that said, as I mentioned before, we're not excluding people from following a path if they want to. And in fact, we recommend that you still create a suggested path. But the key thing here is that we're not forcing them to do so. I love this example from Scoot Networks. It's a startup here in San Francisco and they provide on-demand electric scooters that you can rent anywhere in the city. If you already have a motorcycle license, they have you go through a video training program to make sure that you understand how to use their scoots. So as we see here, they've arranged their learning program where on the right side it has a suggested path, but at any point in time I can jump out of that path. Now, Scoot's going to know you did that, right? They're going to know that you went out of the path, but they're giving you that freedom and if you have problems in the future and you need to solve a problem, you know you can go back here and find that information. So the key point here is that your on demand video training or your video first training can you allow those employees or your stakeholders to learn what you want when you want to learn it. And again, this can be path based. We're not saying you can't have a suggested path, but it's a flexible path, it can be overridden by the viewer, and it's really meant to be a future resource when people have a problem they need help with immediately in the future. So as I said, video first training can still emulate the legacy formats of syllabus led training or what we see often in learning management systems, but we want to make sure that content is still easily searchable and categorizable so I can find those micro pieces of valuable knowledge whenever I need to in the future. So this is a big one people ask about-- what about my Learning Management System, or my LMS? How does that relate to the concept of video first training? So before I answer this question, I want to be clear about what is an LMS. So most modern learning management systems actually are two things combined together. There's a system that delivers content, we'll call that content delivery, and then we have a system of data storage where we keep record of the training progress of the various stakeholders in the organization. When it comes to video first training, one of the things that we have found is that most LMS providers at this point do not have video first training scenarios within their content delivery solutions. However, most LMSes are compatible to use third party video first training systems and stay as the data storage mechanism. So in most implementations that we help customers with who have an existing learning management system, video first training is a system that, for example, Vidcast provides or another video for training platform. And it's important that data from your video training system is able to be exported in a manner that is relevant for your data storage needs. Sometimes that's a learning management system, but sometimes that's other systems, like sales force or marketing automation platforms like Marketo, or even human capital management systems like Workday or PeopleSoft. Again, it depends on your use case, but the point here is that your video first training infrastructure should be able to export this data of a viewer or trainee's progress into the systems that you're already using. It shouldn't be siloed by itself, it should be connected to the rest of your business. Now, what are the benefits of video first training? Why is this such an exciting concept that we've seen be successful at organizations across the world? So first of all, and probably the most important one, to be frank, is that your employees and your stakeholders and your trainees, they love it. This is what they prefer. And again, from the beginning of this presentation we've seen the data. We see the numbers that consumers-- when they make their own choice on how they want to learn, this is what they choose. They choose to find the content that's relevant to them, zoom into that specific [INAUDIBLE], watch that video wherever they are, get the answer to their problem, and then move on. We don't expect them to live in this system. We expect them to come here when they have a problem. Now, second-- and we also see this from the numbers-- is that implementing a video first training system results in a significantly higher level of engagement from your employees. And this is directly related to the fact that they like it, right? It's solving their problems. What we see the numbers is that, lo and behold, a lot of people use it. And we've seen this over and over again as companies try and do a [INAUDIBLE] with a video first training experience when they're converting away from a legacy LMS or a syllabus led sort of training experience. Now, one of the most exciting things about a video first training experience is the data that we can collect. And just because we're not forcing people through a fixed path doesn't mean we don't have data. In fact, we have amazing data. And this really gets into a key question that you, as an instructional designer, need to be asking, and that is, what is the expected outcome of this training experience? Like I mentioned earlier in the presentation, there's different ways of doing assessments, and one of them really effective mechanisms of assessment, the primary foundation, is are people consuming this content? That's question number one. And with video first training, you can see down to the second what is not only the content name-- what are the videos people are watching-- but even within that content, what do they watch, what do they rewatch, what do they skip? This data is essential to being able to constantly evolve that library to make it as useful as possible. Whether you're using Vidcaster or another system for your video first training environment, the key here is that you have two different types of data. The first type is what we're looking at on the screen right here, and that is contact level data. So down to the individual trainee. But we also want to be able to aggregate that information and have it available at a high level, global level, to see that across the board. And finally, as we mentioned before, it's really important that there be a connector so that we can connect the results of your training to the existing business systems that you use already to manage the effectiveness of your business organization. So let's look at a couple of case studies where video first training has been successful. This is a great example, a company in Microsoft where they had been using in class training and smaller events across the US at various sites. They did a pilot project in substituting video for in class training and smaller events. They were able to significantly reduce their costs for classroom training from a couple of hundred dollars per hour per participant to just about $17 per person. And this is directly related to the fact that we don't have to lock people in a room for days on end. We give them the resources they need, they solve their problem, and they move on. One of my favorite examples is a retail chain called Dave and Buster's. Just a few years ago they came from the traditional concept of that three ring binder. Retail, they have something like 10,000 employees. Retail is a pretty high turnover industry, especially food service, so it's a constant challenge for them to have up to date materials that were effective and quick in getting people on boarded so they could start their role with the organization. What they did with Vidcaster is created basically a video resource site. They put iPads in all of their retail locations and now employees do two things with them. Number one, they use this for onboarding. So when I first became an employee with the organization I'm given a suggested path of content that onboards me and introduces me to the organization. That's cool, but let's be frank, that's something we kind of had before with the three ring binder. It's a better version of it, but you know, we're going better. But the thing that's been extremely effective and the real sticky part of this system is that this has become an indispensable tool for the organization to solve problems at any point. I'll give you a silly example but it's very real. If I'm a cook and I need to get the recipe for making the calamari or I'm a repair person and I have to go figure out how this amusement machine works, they prefer video. Again, we're looking at the consumer behavior here. It has been extremely successful because we're modeling after the behavior that we know consumers choose. So again, I love this example because it's not just about onboarding, it's not just about replacing what you have, but it's also about creating a library that is a super valuable knowledge base for years to come. So I want to leave you with these two points before we get into the final few minutes of question and answer. Number one, training has evolved. Thanks to the internet, we now have the ability to get what we want when we want it. As such, the rigorous style of syllabus or fixed path training is outdated and it can actually be hurting your business. Again, it's so important to have quality training which can lead to significant high turnover or loss of productivity. Number two, video first training is about cultivating an inviting learning environment-- a library, right-- that employees can always know they can go back to as a resource for just in time training. At the end of the day, what we're doing here is helping your stakeholders solve problems. That's what we're doing. We're not forcing things upon them, we're giving them a valuable resource. And that is the paradigm shift from the legacy flow of forced fixed path to what we're doing now with video first training and letting people choose that path. We're excited to share this introductory presentation. I know this was just scratching the surface. Erik and I are playing a number of follow-up presentations on this very topic. Our next presentation is going to focus on how do I actually create this content? There are so many tools out there that let you create the fixed path or syllabus led method. We're going to show you some tools to actually let you create a much more self-directed flow. So look for that coming in the future. In the few minutes we have left, I'd like to answer a couple of questions that have been coming across the board and I'm going to turn it over to Erik. What questions are we getting in? Got it. So if you couldn't hear Erik, he's saying, what kind of videos are people using for these libraries? That's a good question and I'll kind of go back to the example we saw. In fact, I'm going to go right back to this slide right here. I think this is a really cool example. So first of all, the answer is it does depend on your organization. If I was then to split out what I see in common with organizations, there does seem to be a separation between onboarding material-- so for new people, whether it's a new customer or whether it's a new prospect, whether it's a new employee-- and an ongoing support material-- again, that's the library solving my problems. So again, if you look at the umbrella of all different types of companies, we have the kind of fresh off the boat new training and then we have the existing resource library. Now, to be clear, we can actually create a suggested path that includes some of these library evergreen materials that's part of the suggested path for new employees. So that's the first thing. It's like, hey, we sometimes have the new folks and we have people that are already within the system. Now, within that, we then see different types of training that-- and here's the trend that we're seeing is most effective. It's to create bite sized pieces of content that's oriented around a question and answer. So this is content that's between two and five minutes and comes from your understanding of your industry and is asking the questions that most employees or stakeholders commonly ask. And the cool part about this is that it turns into, essentially, a video of frequently asked questions. This is one of the most effective formats we've seen. And the reason why this is effective is that if you put yourself in the shoes of that learner, they're asking these questions now. They are confused about X, they don't know how to do Y, and the simplest way to help them with that is to ask that same question and provide that answer. So we have seen just as a whole, the most successful type of video first training is bite sized clips less than five minutes but a large quantity of them. And that they are focused on the questions that matter to your stakeholders. Now, that said, there are tons of other styles of video first training. Some good examples of this are things like actual screen flows or tutorial videos about how to do specific things in your product or service. One of my favorite types that's just-- it's a new thing but we're seeing it more more-- is letting your existing employees or stakeholders or other customers, having them be the star of this training content. One of the projects we're involved in is helping a global sales team as they go through a large transition from an older team to newer blood. And a lot of people are going into retirement, so what they've done is they've used a mobile application that we have to prompt for interviews from the existing sales team. And just like the question and answer method that I mentioned, that's exactly what they're doing but they're having the existing sales team do this. So what they're doing is they're having all the different objections they get for the different product lines. And so that they give the team these iPads, they're prompted on the iPad to answer these questions. So it's like, hey, how do we handle objection A? That's the name of the video. And then it's a five-minute video from a really experienced sales guy, here's how I handle this objection. Then there's a separate video, how do you handle objection B? And as simple as that sounds, it's something that is so valuable and it's something that, frankly, can be hard for an instructional designer to do on their own. And what we're seeing is that trend is enabling the other stakeholders in the organization to make this content themselves. And that's where we see magic happen that really hasn't been possible before. I hope that gave you some direction. And of course, this will be something that we're going to dive into in future presentations. [INAUDIBLE]? OK. That's an interesting question. So if I can't make a video about the topic I need to teach? So there's a quick answer for that, and that is to create animated or abstracts illustrations of the topic you're trying to convey. So there's actually a couple of systems that we use on a regular basis. One of my favorites is a platform called Go Animate. It's made to be a very easy to use system in your browser. It lets you create animations. So it can be cartoon like if you want, but they also have models and assets to let you make it more professional. And then you can also use their system to make whiteboard videos. I've seen this to be extremely effective when creating these bite sized Q and As for content that is either impossible to record because it's abstract or it's very difficult. A silly example, but it's real, is nuclear power plants. We have a couple customers in energy space and some things are literal, like videotape pressing the red button-- easy to do, right? But to explain the theoretical concepts of how system A connects to B and the cooling flow of the pipes, that is so abstract that it needs to be represented with animation or visuals. And in those flows, we see the tools like Go Animate have been really, really effective for conveying those things and doing so in a way that's still engaging with the viewer and provides a quick answer to those questions they have. Great. Well, that is all the time we have for today. I appreciate everyone joining for this 30-minute presentation on the future of video first training. We're excited to bring to you some additional content in the coming weeks about how to create this video first training experience. So thanks again for joining and be in touch if you have any questions.