Training specialist Matt Pierce looks at how screencasting technology can make the most of training and induction budgets.
Learning technologies continue to evolve as a key element in an HR professional's training armoury. But with more pressure than ever on resources and budgets, they need to find new ways to make training simpler, quicker and more effective.
Screencasting refers to the recording of all activity on a computer screen, with an accompanying voice commentary explaining what is happening on-screen. These recordings can be edited into a tutorial-style video that can cover all manner of training areas, from formal training on in-house software and online tools to a short presentation for induction purposes. It is used across a number of sectors and, in HR and training, its introduction and use is a relatively simple proposition.
The development of tutorial style videos can make the training progress more flexible for employees, reduce the need for external training resources and smooth the induction process for new team members. With HR managers under pressure to do more with less, this can help them to reduce the cost of training, both in terms monetary spend and time required.
Implementing and deploying new software usually comes as a relief to those involved in the purchase, but is often only the beginning for the HR department. Getting an entire workforce up-to-speed on new technology is a daunting task. Even when all employees are up and running, new joiners will require training, so it can seem like a never-ending process.
By using screencasting, the strain of a large scale roll-out of new software or the induction of new joiners can be eased. It enables an in-house trainer to compile short demonstrations of the new software, with an accompanying voice commentary, and then make these available to those who require training. These screencasts can also be tailored to a company's individual requirements and distributed to all personnel in a single email.
While there is an initial investment in time and resources to develop the screencast videos, the software demonstrations will last for the lifetime of the software. This also ensures that training remains consistent across the organisation.
Screencasts are also useful for induction purposes. When a new employee joins an organisation their first week can be a blur, with a host of new systems and practises to learn. Face-to-face meetings with department heads and peers to run through presentations provide a good forum for inductions, but, with a significant amount of new information being received in a short amount of time, all of that information may not be retained.
Screencasting can be used to record a PowerPoint or online presentation, with an accompanying voice commentary to walk the viewer through the content and induction requirements. These recordings can then be reviewed following the induction process, giving new employees the ability to refresh their knowledge as required.
Coordinating training sessions
Another challenge facing HR and training professionals is coordinating training sessions, which can have a major impact on business productivity. While those working in large companies may find scheduling training for hundreds of employees difficult, smaller businesses can struggle to cram 15 employees into a conference room for a session. The use of screencasts can help, allowing employees to view training resources and videos at their desk in their own time. This requires the videos to be made available to them on an on-demand basis.
To do this, an organisation can upload the presentations to a video hosting site and make the links available on a company's internal intranet. Employees can then view in their own time, either during induction or as an informal learning resource. Alternatively, links can be distributed via email and videos can be hosted on a networked server or made available for download.
Creating an on-demand resource allows employees to view the screencast videos in their own time and prioritise training in line with other work commitments. The induction process is also improved, with employees able to access video materials as they were delivered following their formal induction. This also reduces the strain on HR managers, as they can direct employees to the videos when required, rather than walking them through the uses of in-house software or other resources covered by the screencast programme.
Retention of information
However effective a training or induction session is, there is always a question mark over retention of information. Unless software is used soon after a session, employees may find it difficult to recall specifics a few days later. Screencasting means that employees can revisit past training for a refresher, removing the need for repeat sessions. This is especially useful during the first weeks of employment, when a significant amount of information is conveyed in a short period and retention suffers.
The ability to create a library of resources that can be made accessible on an on-demand basis provides HR and training managers with the capacity to improve the efficiency of training. If employed effectively, the use of screencast-based training can aid with retention and ease the induction process of new employees, not to mention save time and money.
Matt Pierce is customer engagement manager at TechSmith Corporation, specialising in aiding trainers in creating effective training materials.