Workshop, E-Learning or Video? A question of strategy

Question from a client:Writing in a workshop

We’re rolling out workshops about a new people development process. We want to use e-learning to reach the people we miss. How should we go about it? Should we use e-learning via the LMS or video on the intranet?

This is a good question. Of course the question should be linked directly to purpose, and all modalities should be planned concurrently. Let’s take a look at each modality before looking at how my client’s question relates to learning strategy.


If the organisation is still classroom-centric, then we need to think about whether the project is an opportunity to offer staff new delivery options. We also need to consider what is lost when we move training out of the workshop and  into a self-directed modality, such as e-learning or video. The main loses are:

  1. The opportunity to ask the facilitator questions
  2. The opportunity for the facilitator to challenge assumptions
  3. The opportunity to network and learn socially, through discussion and practice in a safe environment

If the subject matter relates to a wider cultural change piece, then the workshop is an important modality. Workshops are also important in organisations with staff that do not have regular computer access.

Tip: When you are training a process, be sure to provide simple “how to” guides that can be revisited at the point of need.

E-Learning courseware

E-Learning courses are great for answering “how do I?” – for demonstrating the nuts and bolts of a process. It can effectively reinforce key messages. It’s flexible in relation to access. However, it’s linear, self-directed, systematised delivery makes it a poor modality for influencing hearts and minds (in my opinion). Facilitated webinar is better for this. See my blog post How to Design and Facilitate a Virtual Classroom for more information. Be sure to engage managers and other ‘people support’ mechanisms to address the social learning aspects and behavioural aspects lost through e-learning delivery.

Another potential issue for e-learning courseware lies in workflow. The question to ask is “Should this non-legislation related course be mandated?”

If Yes:

  • What does that say about the intent of the course? (it will speak volumes about the course sponsor’s attitude about the content and level of staff trust)
  • Who will take responsibility to review the reports and action non-completions? (refer to my blog post Mandatory e-learning is simply mandatory)

If No:

  • What other corporate communication approaches can be used to ensure staff know the e-learning course is available to them?
  • Who will sustain the communication about the course ongoing?



Well produced videos can be fantastic for both communicating a message and providing the “how do I?” performance support at the point of need. They are generally cost effective to make (compared with most e-learning) and can be applied and reused in different parts of the business to capture different staff workflows (e.g. Intranet, LMS, DVD, embedded in an e-learn).

There are 2 broad types of video for this scenario:

  1. Key messaging: for example, from an executive sponsor. These videos enable staff to witness the language used by the executive, and make judgement on executive level of commitment. Another video type for key messaging is “vox-pop” – a number of people sharing their perspective about a question or topic, in quick succession.
  2. Demonstrations: These may include videoed role plays with debrief, and demonstrations of new materials or new processes. New systems processes can be captured by screencast software (e.g. Camtasia) and created into a video format for distribution.


How do these options relate to learning strategy?

A learning strategy should involve transforming the way people learn in an organisation. The intention of a learning technology (or e-learning) strategy should be to support staff. The strategy and the solution should be staff-centric. To be staff centric, we need to ask the question “What do self-directed, self-governing staff need in order to successfully transition to the new business/HR process?”

  • Some staff will miss or avoid workshops, and so other content options must be provided. Options should cover both process and key messages.
  • Content options must be published in places where staff are likely to look for them at the point of need.
  • Video is more engaging and simpler to digest than printed content, for key messaging and demonstrations.
  • Prepare videos before the workshop roll-out, and use the workshop to demonstrate where to find support materals, and how to use them.
  • LMS are generally a poor place to publish and manage performance support.
  • LMS managed e-learning courseware are generally inflexible in search and navigation, are typically way too long in duration, and may not be publishable on some workflow platforms, such as intranet or ipads.
  • Do not mandate non-legislative e-learning unless you have carefully thought out the report resourcing and how such mandates will be received by staff.


The bottom line:

Strongly consider video as a solution for easy-access training and performance support unless a) you don’t have comprehensive workflow platforms that support video or b) the course is mandated and therefore needs to be tracked.

If you are on a journey to implement technologies for learning, then use opportuities such as a HR roll-out to provided different deliveries for staff. It is expensive and outdated to be rolling out workshops as the only solution for upskilling staff on a new proces or initiative (e.g. consider staff time way from productive work to attend a 2 hr workshop versus a 30 minute e-learn versus eight 2-3 minute videos).

The real skill is translating workshop material into concise, engaging video scripts. Should you require assistance, speak with us. We have a team that can help you learn the ropes.


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