How to Decide the Best Media for Instruction with Betty Dannewitz

How to Decide the Best Media for Instruction with Betty Dannewitz

When you create instructional content, which media do you use? Perhaps you have a favorite type of media that you turn to time and time again, or maybe certain media types resonate better with your audience.

But, with new innovative technologies working their way into our media, how can these be used for learning and development? And, which ones are best for your audience?

Betty Dannewitz has over 18 years’ experience in the learning and development field. She’s a talented instructional designer, training creator, and host of the “ifyouaskbetty” podcast, where she discusses a wide variety of learning and development topics.

She is passionate about using innovative technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and even podcasting to deliver instruction. Betty believes that these new media are a great way to instruct your audience and help them move forward.

You can watch the video on this topic at the top of this post, to listen to the podcast episode, hit play below, or read on for more…

What is the best media to use for instruction?

What assets are considered to be “media”? Betty notes that there’s a wide spectrum of media that you can use for instruction, including images, video, gifs, and podcasts. But any asset that creates an immersive learning experience, for example, those used to create an eLearning program, can be considered instructional media.

Betty strongly believes that all media is an experience. Any media that you can see which provokes a reaction is an experience. This might be in reaction to social media posts or a poster on the wall. These media have the potential to instruct as they deliver an experience.

“Anything you can see or experience is media” – Betty Dannewitz

If you’re choosing a media to instruct, the first step you should take is to meet with the stakeholders. Betty suggests asking lots and lots of questions to understand the rationale behind the project before deciding what media or form the instructions should take.

“I always start with some of the basics, the who, what, where, when and why? Who are we trying to target? And what is it that you want them to do? Where are they going to take this learning in? When do you want this to be done by? Why do you want them to do it to begin with?”

Betty’s top tip is to ask the stakeholders what their vision for the project is. They might already have an idea of what instructional media they’d like to use, and if you’re working with lots of people, it can help you to all get on the same page.

How to deliver the best instructional media

The next step is to review how your instructional content was delivered previously. Consider where you might need to make changes or if you need to use different media. For example, if your previous training or instructional content was rolled out as classroom or eLearning training, what are the reasons to update it to a new media?

If you want to change your audience’s behavior, then your instructional media needs to communicate to the learner what you want them to do, why you want them to do it that way, and give them a chance to practice it. Betty believes that the best way you can deliver a lot of this information to your learners is to use the media they consume outside of the workplace.

“If you could take that concept of ‘this is how they consume media outside of work’, and bring it in, that’s where you’ll be able to find that spot to slip in those videos and podcasts and things like that.”

Betty’s preferred media for instruction

When it comes to the corporate world, Betty’s top instructional media choice is the animated video. She says there are two reasons why animated video is both her favorite type of instructional media and an incredibly successful way of communicating an idea.

The first is that everyone loves animation. They’re often fun to watch, easy to understand, and appeal to us on a simple level that makes us more susceptible to their messaging.

“I don’t care what people will tell you – everyone LOVES animation!” – Betty Dannewitz

The second is that animated videos are far quicker to produce than live videos. Animated videos require some similar steps – you will still need to write a script, for example. But then you only need to record a voiceover and create the images to achieve a complete video.

Betty is also passionate about using new technologies for learning and development. She admits that VR (virtual reality) isn’t the answer for everything, however, it can be a quick and effective way to deliver 3–5-minute bursts of micro-learning. Meanwhile, she hopes that AR (augmented reality) will be used much more broadly as an instructional tool.

So, what’s stopping these new technologies from being used more frequently in the workplace?

“The problem is that you start talking about [AR/VR] and instantly the leaders think dollar signs. But it’s really cheap and super easy. So, you have to get in there and explain that to them. And the best way to explain it is to show it. So, build a prototype, and show them, and get [AR/VR] in there.”

Betty also notes that podcasts are also a fantastic way for delivering leadership messaging and giving context. Despite what you might think, you can also easily deliver podcasts internally.

There are a few ways to distribute your podcast internally or privately. You can upload the audio file to YouTube as an unlisted item, then share the link with those who need it or put it in your learning management system. There may even be a way to embed the audio file into your LMS or intranet. This way, people can easily access the podcast without it needing to be published publicly.

How long should a micro-learning video be?

Betty prefers her micro-learning videos to be around 3-5 minutes long, however, she suggests that you can go shorter. There can be a lot of value in 60-90-second videos if they achieve their learning objectives.

Interestingly, Betty notes that if your audience engages with your content on a mobile device, then shorter is better. Why? Because people won’t want to hold their phone up for a long time. This simple factor can greatly harm your engagement. So, find out where your audience is, and if they’re on mobile, opt for micro.

How to refine your instructional media skills

Betty’s advice for learning more about delivering great instructional media is to pay attention to what’s in front of you. She suggests that you keep your eyes open to the trends that are happening right now. What’s making you stop and take notice? How did it do that, and why did it have an impact on you?

“The things that catch your attention are the things that will catch the attention of the people you’re trying to deliver learning to.”

Remember that you’re creating media that your audience has to want to consume. Getting people to stop and listen to you is the key to delivering a successful learning experience – so you have to grab their attention first.

Research how other people and leaders in your industry are doing this by following them on their social channels. Betty recommends following people on LinkedIn and studying how they catch their audience’s attention. What sets their instructional content apart, and what response are they getting? You can also use this opportunity to connect with people in your industry and follow those who do what you want to do.

Betty suggests that taking inspiration from other instructional media is a great way to engage your audience because they’re more likely to pay attention to media they’re more familiar with. So, find ways to make your audience take notice so you can deliver what they need in a way they can understand.

If you want to find out more about instructional media, you can scroll to the top of this post and watch or listen to the full interview with Betty. To learn how to start creating your own instructional media, including video, check out the TechSmith Academy.

For more expert advice and tips visit TechSmith Academy on YouTube or listen to the Podcast.

Ryan Knott

TechSmith Marketing Content Specialist and manager of the TechSmith Blog. More than 25 years of communications and marketing experience. Geek. Science and sci-fi enthusiast. Guitar player. On a mission to pet all the dogs. He/him. A few things about me: 1) Mildly (or not-so-mildly) obsessed with the movie Alien, 2) two rescue pibbles (Biggie and Reo), and 3) friend of ducks everywhere. Ask me about my seven+ years as a roller derby coach.

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