Supporting Social Learning: Why Video Is Even More Important Than You Think

You worked hard to find them. You spend a lot of money to train them and retain them. Now, you want to make sure they have all the tools they need to succeed — and to help their newer colleagues do so as well.

Meeting - Panopto Social Learning Video PlatformThey’re your subject matter experts (SMEs), and you understand how important they are to your organization.

Of course, with today’s many technological advancements, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing is easier than it has ever been. However, in order to gain a true competitive advantage, email just isn’t fast enough—particularly for sharing particularly difficult or visually dependent ideas.

“The pervasiveness of video has become a significant corporate trend,” writes Forrester Research analyst Leslie Owens. “Today information workers use video for more than just internal communications. As video technology matures, they will have opportunities to share knowledge with their colleagues through video, and it will be commonplace for information workers to generate and consume video as part of their job. Forty-five percent of business technology users already report watching some type of video for work.”

Because of the popularity of video and its ability to transfer knowledge with nearly unparalleled effectiveness, the role of video in employee communications is expanding rapidly. And while video has quickly been adopted for a wide range of uses in many organizations, from scaling training and knowledge management to supporting sales enablement and corporate communications, the social aspect of video may mean the technology’s most valuable application is at the desktop level, facilitating peer-to-peer informal social learning.

What Makes Video a Powerful Tool for Social Learning?

Claire Schooley of Forrester Research defines informal learning as a “work environment where employees take responsibility for their own learning, aided by employers that provide easy access to the appropriate content and tools.” Social learning, as Schooley distinguishes it, is a subset of social learning in which employees learn from one another.

“Traditional learning approaches do not always meet employee needs — especially those of the Millennial generation,” Schooley notes. “In fact, current delivery mechanisms can seem downright creaky to twenty-somethings.”

There are three big reasons video why is an effective tool for social learning:

  1. Video is visual — complicated concepts don’t need to be described, just shown.
  2. Video is fast — recording is faster than writing, and watching is faster than reading.
  3. Video is available — files can be stored in a library and shared on-demand, meaning internal expertise doesn’t have to walk out the door when your expert does.

At many of today’s most forward-thinking companies, video is used alongside email, instant messaging and other methods of communication as just another option for employees to share what they know. Want proof — see how law firms, tech companies, and financial services organizations are all putting video to use to share institutional knowledge.

5 Ideas for Using Video to Support and Scale Corporate Social Learning

Every organization has developed unique strategies for how to share know-how. Here, we share a few of the most common types of videos our customers’ employees develop to share with each other every day.

#1: Subject matter experts use video to share how-to videos, best practices, FAQs and more
Basic skills videos are an important part of employee onboarding and ongoing employee training—and many of those videos are created not by the learning and development team, but by the subject matter experts (SMEs) themselves. Sometimes distributed by trainers and other information support personnel, these videos are more often shared person-to-person on an as-needed basis. And when those videos are stored in a central video library, they’re even easier to find and share later on.

#2: Sales teams use video to share sales demonstrations, role play videos, self-review videos and other nuanced communications
Sales strategy social learning videos range from role playing to how-tos to “understanding the buyer” reenactments. Video conveys the style and delivery, not just the substance, of the selling interaction. In addition, some sales teams have discovered that video isn’t just for training others — it can also be used to help improve oneself. Even experienced salespeople find ways to improve their effectiveness when they’re able to see themselves more objectively.

#3: IT teams use video to communicate recent process changes and technological how-tos
If there was ever a need for video how-tos, there was a need for IT-related video how-tos. Quick visual tutorials, complete with multi-screen capture and (for hardware-based processes) real-world demonstrations, are not only more effective than in-person tutorials — they’re easy to create. In the ever-changing field of technology, some employees are quicker to excel than others. Because videos can be stored in the video library and watched as many times as necessary, one-on-one review time is cut dramatically.

#4: Learning and development teams gather best practice videos from long-term employees
Curating internal knowledge doesn’t need to require spending months interviewing SMEs and creating full-length department training programs. Instead, with video development teams can give enable SMEs to capture FAQ and best practice videos themselves — then to share them with anyone who needs them. And with the right access controls, L&D teams can monitor the content that is shared and the audiences with whom it is shared, and with video metrics they can determine who views the videos and when and how long they did so.

#5: Learning and development teams use social learning videos to cross-train employees
An effective cross-departmental training program encourages a healthy work environment — one that sometimes does more for the long-term stability of a company than even economic incentives or perks. That’s because understanding of and participation in the larger goals and processes of a company increases employee motivation and success. One of the best ways to accomplish cross-training: social learning videos created by the departments themselves. Companies that provide for this kind of visual peer-to-peer communication see compliance rates increase as managers and workers personally explain the reasons behind a needed process or process change.

Social Learning Works Best When it’s Easy to Create — And That’s What Video Does Best

According to Forrester Research, employees are 75 percent more likely to watch a video than to read documents, email or web articles. Most employee development and communication teams already understand the clear value of video social learning. However, many of those same departments still rely on the outdated, AV Specialist-dependent mode of video production. Relying on specialists alone simply isn’t a scalable means to facilitate the depth and breadth possible in a well-structured social learning program.

A better option? An enterprise video platform, or “Corporate YouTube”.

A modern video platform like Panopto is software-as-a-service, meaning organizations can install it instantly on any or every employee’s PC, Mac, or mobile device. With Panopto, employees can record with any device they happen to have — from the webcams already built into their laptops or smartphones, to specialty recording equipment or high-end camcorders. And when the recording’s complete, Panopto automatically uploads everything to a secure centralized video library where it is transcoded for optimal playback on any device, ensuring your team members can always reference the information your employees share, no matter where they happen to be or what device they happen to be watching on.

Best of all, modern video platforms make searching for information inside videos possible. Panopto automatically indexes every word spoken, shown on-screen, and included in any presentation slides for every video in your library, and enables employees to keyword search and instantly fast forward right to the relevant insights they need.

In rapidly changing business environments, formal and informal tips, how-tos and ask-the-expert conversations are the most common way for employees to learn from each other. There’s only one problem with the way many companies institute their social learning strategies — they only work when the subject matter expert is there to answer the questions. That is, of course, unless those exchanges can be recorded.

With Panopto, there’s never been an easier or more effective way for your employees to exchange insights, learn from each other, and perform to their potential — to empower your employees to share their insights, expertise, and best practices throughout your organization. To see how Panopto can help you preserve and share the expertise inside your organization, contact our team today to schedule a demo or start a free 30-day trial.

Published: July 09, 2015

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