A few months ago, I received a video featuring a fictional conversation between Philadelphia Phillies greats Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth. Unlike most joke emails, this one made me stop and watch, despite my normal instinct to skip or delete. (Because of strong language, I don’t include the clip here, but interested adults can easily find it on YouTube.)
I knew instantly that I was hooked. The more videos like this that I found – with their lego-like characters and flat computer voices—the more I wanted to watch—no matter the content. This one, for example, gives new meaning to the concept of the home makeover show:
Even insurance giant Geico uses them in their ads:
The text-to-video technology enabling these videos, created by xtranormal.com, is simple—“if you know how to type, you can make movies!” Intriguing and fun, but not really a learning tool, right?
It was my godson who convinced me otherwise when he created an xtranormal book report for his 3rd grade assignment. Suddenly, I began to think about how this technology could also be a useful education tool, not just in the elementary classroom, but in corporate learning. Knowing that facilitators and designers are always looking for ways to create fresh and engaging interactions, why not deploy a technology that is user friendly, easy to access, and cheap?
My first thought was to create clips as “bad” examples to use in sales and communications classes. Trying to illustrate how flat vocal tone and awkward gestures can damage a presentation? In under one minute, a short comical video can accomplish what we typically use role play to do—and in a medium that surprises and re-engages participants who may just roll their eyes at another role play.
Another application is to replace skits. The technology allows participants to create and present their content as quickly and easily as with live skits—but circumvents the stage fright that some participants get when asked to act. And because videos offer more variety than live skits do, they amp up the engagement level just a bit more.
As part of eLearning or blended solutions, short videos could also be used to deliver information or brief technical content, or to “host” and online learning—in the same manner as “talking head” videos already do—but at much lower risk of looking like every other course participants have taken, and at a much lower cost for video production. (Corporate orientations, for example—often full of information and tough to get through—could benefit from the stylistic break such a video would create.)
In the past, using video in the classroom involved a lot of time, technical hassle and expense. With this technology, trainers have one more tool in our kits to create fun, engaging learning. So what about replacing the classroom “scavenger hunt” icebreaker with a team video competition? Or assigning teams to create videos to recap what they learned in the previous day’s training?
Hey! Maybe I can even turn this blog into a video, too. . .