All of you have been there. You are sitting in class and a video is played to support what the instructor has told you and the video does one of two things. It completely took your focus away from what was said or it caused you to buy in completely with what is being taught. The development of technology and online portals such as BLUtube has made it easier than ever to use video in your presentations but what was once said to a well known superhero holds true when it comes to utilizing video in your presentations: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Pitfalls of Video
The power of video is well known. A video can do what an instructor could never explain (or take hours trying) but there are dangers. Videos must be placed in the location of the presentation where they fit in and they should never take the place of sound discussion and details from an instructor. Videos should compliment but never replace and nothing can ruin a great presentation quicker than a video that is too long or does not match up with the instruction given. Most utilize video in a great manner and no one has done it better through the years than Calibre Press and the Street Survival Seminar.
Dave Smith has been a part of Calibre Press for more 20 years and is the Director of Video Training for Police One TV. Dave knows the importance of video but also knows the dangers. “A supervisor or training that just puts on a video for passive viewing is either showing porn or might as well be. It is a useless exercise if you don’t make the student actively watch and respond...reflect on what was just shown,” he says.
The participation of the instructor cannot be stressed enough. While a well placed video in a classroom lecture can be extremely beneficial, the most important aspect of that video is the instructor that chooses it, plays it, and discusses it.
Know Your Goal
With the exception of an occasional comedy to bring students back from a break, the videos you use in training should have a specific goal and if you know the goal that you want to accomplish you will most likely use the video correctly. What are you trying to show the students and what do you want them to know after they view it?
I always seem to have better videos for a class but I cannot show them. Before you show a video, you need to ensure that you can do so without it interfering with a legal or civil case that may be pending. Most agencies will not permit the showing of any video for training purposes until all of the legal avenues have been exhausted. It is also important to protect the officer(s) involved in the video. If they want to remain anonymous you should comply with their request and if they do not want you to show the video you should also try to accommodate them. In some instances, the video has been widely distributed in the media or online and there is much less to be concerned with if that has occurred.
The success of any video is to make it personal and to do that, the instructor must provide context to what is being shown. Why is the video important and what can be learned? It is also important to explain important background on the video and students will often want to know the outcome of the video. More importantly, according to Dave Smith, placing context on a video “allows the student to relate more personally and have more emotional involvement which is the key to changing behaviors positively.”
Tell the Story
In addition to context, it is important to tell the story. This expands on what the viewer is seeing. Where is the officer going, why are they going there and why are they doing it? Did the officer receive training and what do they attribute to the success or failure of the event. This goes right along with placing context on what is being said and the instructor must have an excellent knowledge of the event. This may take more than simply watching the video several times. The instructor may have to look at additional sources or contact the agency or officer involved to do this effectively.
Replay, Replay Again
In almost all instances, it will be necessary to replay the video for the students. This is where real learning happens. The video is watched, discussed and watched again. Like anything we observe, you always pick up additional information after viewing it multiple times. Your students have an advantage that the officer involved does not have. They can be placed in the event multiple times even at slow-motion speeds.
Consider the Length
This is one of the most abused areas in the utilization of video and I’m pleased to see organizations like Police One Academy get it right. There is rarely a need for a long video in regards to training. The video needs to be placed into context with the story told and it needs to get to the point. Instructors should show the event that needs to be addressed and spend the rest of the time discussing it. Using short, meaningful videos can be very helpful when entire shifts cannot be sacrificed for training. A quick video in squad meeting with supervisors or trainers leading a discussion can go a long ways with making officers more aware and safer.
For many years, I advocated entire eight-hour shifts for training but the stark reality is the same thing can be accomplished in several short segments, possibly just squad meetings, to make your officers safer. Attention spans rarely make it out of the first hour in a typical daylong course, so why not take advantage of that and use short five- to ten-minute training videos with proper discussion.
Putting it Into Practice
So what does this type of training look like and how can you accomplish it? I’ll get deep into that question one week from today, in the second installment of this two-part series. Meanwhile, add your thoughts in the comments field below, or send me an email using the link beneath my bio. And don’t forget to check back on February 28th for part two.