Effectively Use Video Training in Your Creative Classes and Programs

Providing your students with video training is one of the best things you can do to help them have a successful educational experience. With varying levels of knowledge, constantly updating software and the demands on instructors, video training has become the reliable resource for scaling programs and improving students’ career readiness. If you’re looking to implement video training into your classroom, either created by you or a 3rd party training provider, there are important elements to making sure you and your students get the most out of the content. Whether you’re creating the videos yourself or paying for a subscription service, you want to start off on the right track and make sure you’re not wasting yours or your students’ valuable time in the process. In this article, we’ll break down why video training, again made by instructors or a 3rd party service, is an incredibly successful and cost-effective way to revolutionize your classroom’s learning speed, students' comprehension and growth, and let you focus on what matters most: preparing students for their careers. As an instructor, you know there’s just not enough time in the day to always give a perfect, hands-on explanation of every creative tool or software available to your students. You can help better prepare your students for future success by introducing them to video training early, and showing them how to make the most of what’s out there before they even leave school.  

Why implement video training?

Video training is being used more and more within the classroom, the workplace and individually to teach almost anything imaginable. With the rise of sites like YouTube and Khan Academy, the world is getting more comfortable learning with video training and the almost-instant delivery of knowledge. While some schools wonder if video is a threat, leading schools realize the importance of video training (especially in the creative fields) and how it can supplement the in-person learning experience, and displace textbooks that can become outdated when they hit the students’ hands. If you’re still using textbooks in your classroom to teach creative software and subjects, with the amount of resources available, now is the perfect time rethink the idea of supplementing your students’ education with video training. Video training generally helps students learn new skills faster and in a more engaging way than textbooks. When they can see the video author moving around and navigating a software right in front of them, they get a better understanding of what's being taught. The visual explanation makes the content easier to follow, easier to learn from and in a format that's scalable for your entire student body.  

How to decide what type of training to use

Before you start implementing video training in your classroom, you have to decide your budget and what your ultimate goals are that you're trying to meet. How much do you want to rely on video training for the core curriculum of your class to free up in-person time, or what will your budget even allow?  
Free Options
If you only need videos to teach some simple tools or techniques, there are free sources available that you can share with your students. Websites like YouTube and Vimeo have become a resource where anyone can publish educational content. The YouTube and Vimeo route will require a lot of initial oversight on your part to evaluate the content of the video tutorials from a teaching standpoint. After all, anyone can serve up a video on those platforms, which means there’s a potential that some videos will have incorrect information or workflows. That doesn’t mean there isn’t still some really informative training on those websites, you just need to be able to identify the red flags that signal bad training content. The key things you want to make sure the video covers, whether free, paid or your own videos, are:  
The Video Skill Level Matches Your Class or Student(s)
Is the video addressing a beginner, or someone with a more advanced knowledge of the subject being taught? Different users have different needs, and it's nearly impossible for a course or video to be educationally successful for every potential audience. So, make sure the video author’s target audience matches the educational level of your class or student, and doesn’t deviate from that target audience for the duration of the course. If the content jumps from beginner to advanced because the author wants to show something off, it will lead to extreme frustrations for the viewer. It will be much more effective if the videos are at a consistent educational level all the way through.
It Covers the “Why” and Not Just the “How”
This is a major point for great video training. When a student follows a simple, step-by-step tutorial, they will learn the process for creating one thing. However, when a tutorial can also teach them why a step is being performed and the benefits of doing it that way, the student begins to retain the information that helps them start applying their new skills to a variety of other creative scenarios - a huge key in the learning process. You don't want a student to learn how to just create what was in a tutorial or even a class presentation, but rather how to apply it to their own work and future work as a professional.
The Author is Prepared
A great video author doesn't just turn on the screen-capture software and try to record something off the cuff, without any kind of direction. You know good education starts with a good plan. If the video author sounds like they just had a vague idea and started recording instead of detailing a lesson plan before they started, steer clear. Your students will also notice a poorly prepared and constructed video, and they are extremely frustrating to learn from again and again.
Remembering the PURPOSE of Video Training
The purpose of video training is to have an EDUCATIONAL IMPACT for the viewer. Sometimes, simple assets can convey educational points more easily than something that has 10,000 different pieces. Just because an on-screen asset has high-visual complexity, doesn't always guarantee the best learning experience for the viewer. In fairness, the opposite can also be true -- a simple asset doesn't automatically guarantee the best learning experience either. The point is, don't judge a book solely by its cover, but rather by the intended or projected outcome for the student.  

Creating Your Own Videos

For any educator, the option does exist for you to simply create your own training videos for your students. You can purchase midrange quality audio equipment that will allow you to record your voice. It's important not to rely on cheap quality for microphones, because low-quality videos will be much harder for students to follow along with and stay interested in watching. When you've collected your recording equipment, you'll need to determine the software with which you'll capture your computer screen and voice. There are plenty of screen capture software options available online. As a free option, we recommend CamStudio to record your screen. If you would like something more feature-rich, but at a cost, we recommend Camtasia Studio. If you're on a Mac, you're options are more limited for software selection, however QuickTime does allow screen capture as well. Once you're ready to record, it's essential for you to follow the steps mentioned above under the Free Options section. Remember to get prepared before you start recording, and cover the "why" when you're teaching something. It'll also be important for you to avoid going above the students' skill level, while remembering to have an educational impact for them. There's a lot that goes into deciding what to cover when you create your own video content. You'll know what your students need better than most, so just listen and learn from them. Common questions and problems you hear from students about the software would be a perfect place to start. Get creative and really make your video training unique, exciting and informative for the class. Eventually you'll get the hang of the process through practice, and you can start creating much larger lessons and teach more things through video. Finally, you'll need to upload the videos to a video sharing site like YouTube. No one benefits from having a confusing or frustrating method of watching content, and there are many free options available to make the sharing process very easy. We'll get into it a little more later.  

Budgeted Video Training

Alongside your own videos or free training platforms, there are also paid subscription services you can utilize for video training in your classroom. There will be costs here, but it can be some of the best investments you make all year for your students, your teachers and your entire program. Paid services solely focus on training and are thinking about teaching software all day. Free services can typically be hard to maintain year after year as software continuously updates. Having a 3rd party who is doing that work for you lets all of your instructors have a resource for students they can trust any time they have to rely on supplemental training. Not only is the training up-to-date and teaching the software, it frees up your instructors to focus on the creative elements that are so critical in a student's education. Another great benefit of using a 3rd party training resource is providing your students with a nearly endless supply of new things to learn. They can spend extra time on their own and expand their skills instead of relying on outdated books or questionable videos they stumble upon. Even students who just graduated keep using the resource to polish their reel and get their first job - that extra help when they can need it most. As most educators know, and especially in creative subjects, rarely are there students in a class on the same level of learning when it comes to their skill set. With a 3rd party training resource, students that are less skilled or are falling behind in class can more easily catch up by leveraging the additional training available. The students can take the initiative themselves or, and we hear this often, instructors can assign what they need to watch and learn to catch back up. On the other side of the spectrum are students that are ahead of the curve. Having a training resource for these students let's them continue growing and not feel stunted in the learning by waiting for the rest of the class. This helps educators to not have to teach to the middle of the class, and lets you become a more agile educator when handling a learning curve and different skill sets. Most 3rd party providers also include features that help you track your students with relative ease through their service. You can see what students are watching at-a-glance, and get an idea of who is excelling and who may be behind. Then, you can easily assign new topics or tutorials to individual students that will help them improve on what they're struggling with or learn something new. Most of the 3rd party training sites will also have a testing system that students can take alongside the video training to check their retention or show the instructor what is and isn't being learned by a student. Finally, 3rd party training providers typically teach at a much higher quality than someone distributing free content on a site like YouTube. The 3rd party training resources plug-in industry professionals and top educators to your students' educational experience. Getting that kind of expert instruction into the hands of your students will help their skills improve rapidly, and you'll see those results in their drastically improved work in class. While doing your research for a budgeted service, pricing, size of content resource and quality of content will be three big factors to keep in mind. Remember the key parts of great video training mentioned above when doing the evaluation. If your goal as an educator is to truly prepare students for graduation and successful careers, don't go the cheapest option for video training to get them there, but the right option. It may take your administration time to realize what you're fighting for, but to keep your creative programs and students competitive in today's markets it's worth every dollar you can get.  

How to Implement Video Tutorials Into the Classroom

It doesn't happen overnight, but it'll be worth the process of changing the mindset of the students and faculty. Video training has the great potential to take the bulk of tedious lecturing time and give back the teacher control of class time. The benefits of having an active and engaging teacher can be monumental for encouraging all students to improve their work. So how do you start integrating everyone into the system?  
Getting Your Students in The Right Mindset
Before you actually add video training to your class, there are several things you’ll want to communicate to your students about why it’s being brought into the classroom. First and foremost is the separation from textbooks. At first this will probably be exciting for the students, but they need to know that video training still requires a lot of diligence and dedication to retain new skills. However, they should know that the interactivity and visual aspect of video training will help them master new skills faster and with less guesswork than following a step-by-step textbook tutorial.  
Making Videos Easy for Students to Find and Use
If you're creating your own training or utilizing free resources, you'll want to plan the best way for students to view the content. For subscription video training services, they will generally have other means of organizing videos with things like courses and playlists. You'll want to take it upon yourself to remove any chance of frustration for the student so that accessing and learning is as easy as possible. There are many options out there to make that possible, so get creative and brainstorm before deciding on one. Here are a few ideas to get you started:  

Organizing and Making the Training Accessible

Once you have the ability to record videos, you’ll need to figure out what topics on the class schedule you can offload to video tutorials. This is the most exciting advantage for you as a teacher when using online video training in your classroom. Let the tutorials teach the classroom how to use the core software, and you can focus on nurturing and growing your students’ creative and conceptual skills. To help you worry less about training for specific software, Digital-Tutors has compiled Learning Paths for nearly every software type and skill-set, be it animation in Maya or modeling in 3ds Max. With Digital-Tutors’ Learning Paths, you can set your students on a proven path to software success and trust that they’ll learn the tools they need, while you can focus on expanding their creative and professional skills. Additionally, your extra teaching time can be used to help individual students who might be struggling to learn as quickly as the rest of the class. Video training can act as your ultimate teacher’s assistant who works tirelessly to help you educate the class, but gives you the much needed time to become a catalyst for the individual success of your students.  
YouTube Playlists
In the same way subscription services use playlists or Learning Paths to organize a simple way to follow videos in order, you can use a site like YouTube to create playlists, or separate ‘sections’ that videos live in. From there it can be as simple as ordering the videos in the way you want students to watch them. You can create courses full of videos as playlists, and then have students follow each playlist in a certain order. At that point you’ve emulated a Learning Path. That makes things very simple for the student and eliminates the headache of navigating a confusing system to find the right video. Staying diligent and using this system often will keep your library of training videos organized for years to come.  
Internet or Blackboard Listing
Once you've gathered or created your training, it'll be important to organize the links to the video content into a central location so students can access those videos and have some sort of guide to the ordering structure. Sites like Blackboard can provide the perfect online space to share those links to your whole class. You can organize YouTube playlist links into Blackboard, and organize them to match your syllabus to make video training assignments a breeze for students. You don’t have to just use Blackboard, though. There are many free options for sharing content to a large group of people. If you’re using Gmail, Google has implemented a great system called Google Drive where you can store data, links, and other files. Once they’re online, you can easily share that content with students through a simple link. Dropbox works in a similar way to Drive as well, if you want an alternate option. If your class has a dedicated website, you can create specific pages to organize your video training there as well. You’ll be able to lock that section of the website with a password so only your students can gain access to the video training structure.  

Organizing & Tracking Your Students

After you've put your video training online so students can access it, you need to determine if tracking students' progress and habits is important. In many cases you can rely on personal accountability to determine if they’re actually watching videos. Also, students will show their habits by whether or not they’re actually learning what the videos teach and are able to perform effectively in the software. If you do think tracking them is important and valuable for the purposes of your class, there are a few routes you can take. With the free training options you might have to get creative with how you track the progress of your class, but many of the subscription training services have tools to help you monitor the classroom. For example, Digital-Tutors has tools that will help you analyze your students’ usage, trends, progress and quiz or test scores to ensure their continued growth.  

Conclusion and Next Steps

As you can see, there are many things to consider when implementing video training into the classroom. Taking those first steps will likely be the hardest part, but once you begin the process you’ll find that more opportunities open up to offer better hands-on help for every student. Those students will benefit from the use of video training to learn tools or software, and teachers will benefit because they’ll be able to focus on more important things in the classroom. Hopefully you’re feeling much more confident as you start and that we've inspired new ideas to help give you a good road map for bringing videos into your school’s creative programs. Video training is important to get students comfortable using tools that will help them create professional-level work, and help you make it all possible for them as an educator. If you’re interested in leveraging Digital-Tutors for your creative programs or school, learn more about our academic accounts.