Online Video Training Brings the Classroom to Your iPod

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Online video training sites typically offer video or audio recordings of classes taught at colleges and universities across the nation. Users can tune in to these free-of-charge class sessions and follow along. While students can’t get credit for classes taken on YouTube, and iTunes U – as these do not offer degrees – the information in the lectures is often the same as what students get in live classes.

Online Video Training: Key Benefits

Online video training is growing in popularity. In August 2010, Apple announced iTunes U had surpassed 300 million downloads after only three years in operation. MIT’s OpenCourseWare project continues to add new classes at the rate of 50 a year, and YouTube EDU offers over 200 complete courses. Corporations like Volvo are also adopting the new technology to personalize training across thousands of employees worldwide.
Students are flocking to video training options because of its advantages such as:
  • Overcoming barriers of distance. In August 2010, American surgeons began giving counterparts in Nepal live video instruction on surgical techniques. This was a dramatic illustration of the power of online video training to overcome barriers of distance.
  • Facilitating frequent training. In some fields, and especially in technology, change happens rapidly. Online tech training is one way to meet the demand for frequent updates of knowledge and techniques. Professionals who many not have time or money to pay for refresher courses can take advantage of online video training to stay abreast of current trends or brush up before certification or licensing exams.
  • Using up-to-date communication styles. A Department of Education analysis of over a thousand studies of online learning found that on average, students did better under online learning conditions than with face-to-face instruction. A survey of more than 200 medical students found that an overwhelming majority believed that technology — including video game applications — would enhance their instruction.
  • Enhancing information retention. One study found that introducing a video element to instructional programs enhanced long-term retention of the material, perhaps because of the heightened visual dimension of the content.

Online Video Training: Best Practices

Clearly, online video training has several potential applications and benefits, but not all online video training is created equal. Users of online video training should make the distinction between the following forms of training:
  • Vendor-generated video. Vendors of various products, especially in the realm of technology, often produce videos instructing users on the correct application of their products. Online tech training using vendor-generated videos for specific products can be very effective, as long as the user understands that the material does not represent an objective overview of the entire field.
  • In-house videos. In-house videos can be valuable where the focus is on company policy or proprietary techniques. Where broader subject matter is concerned, it can be helpful to introduce outside expertise.
  • Accredited, academic online video training. Material produced by accredited academic institutions is likely to contain the highest-quality content, and can also be part of a formal degree or certification program which allows customers and/or potential employers to recognize the level of training an individual has received. In short, formal programs make sure that the acquired skills are not only useful, but that they are marketable too.
Online training can be a great resource, but it does have its limitations. For one thing, sites like YouTube don’t generally vouch for the quality of the instruction, meaning some courses may be pure brilliance while others may be little more than a series of PowerPoint slides and a lecturer droning on in the background. And unlike online computer certifications, most video training programs don’t allow for interactivity, so if students get confused, they’re on their own. Students needing in-depth instruction or those who are looking to tackle highly technical fields may find degree programs or accredited certification courses better meet their needs.
Online video training can come in many forms, but in the right format, it’s a valuable tool to update skills, prepare for certification exams, or finally audit that class on the history of rock and roll.

Debbie Lawrence is a content editor who primarily writes for an online schooling blog. You can contact her at dlawrence2[@] with any suggestions, questions, or comments. You can find her on Twitter here