During the Excellence in Training Course (my four day professional development course for law enforcement trainers) we spend time watching a variety of videos. The videos include clips from both Hollywood videos as well as from law enforcement videos. I have experimented over the past 21 years with using videos in a variety of ways and have discovered what I believe to be the most effective way to use them to enhance learning.
The key is the power of the pause. Now, participants in the class may initially be annoyed when you pause a video after a minute or less but they soon understand the rationale behind it. While there is a certain amount of entertainment value in videos, the primary purpose for using them in training is for educational reasons.
If you let even a 5 minute video clip play all the way through and then attempt to go back and discuss the learning points in detail participants will have a difficult time in remembering everything. If you want to create the greatest opportunity for learning consider hitting the pause button at key points and have a discussion as a group about:
- what they observed,
- what the learning points are,
- what options are available to the officer or the main character at that moment in time,
- what the participants would do if they found themselves in a similar situations, and
- what the officer has done well so far.
This keeps the key issues fresh and allows for some very lively discussions allowing everyone to participate. These discussions result in a greater degree of learning for the participants.
It is important to understand this method of video review may mean it takes 90 minutes to go through an 8 minute video clip and pull out all the learning points. Many trainers will say they do not have 90 minutes to review a video. I disagree. In a recruit class instead of showing a whole bunch of videos select a smaller number that have the greatest teaching potential (not the greatest shock value). For inservice personnel you may not have 90 minutes in one session, but you can find 90 minutes if the learning is important. That 90 minutes can be broken down into 10 or 15 minute increments and spread across a number of days. You may take two weeks at roll call or shift briefing to go through one video. Officers will look forward to the discussions that take place at the start of each shift and the learning will continue as they discuss the material with the partner and their peers on the course of the shift.
The next time you are thinking of using a video in training start by watching it and determining all the key decision points in the video. Pause the video at each of those points and make a list of all the teaching / learning points in that segment. Understand that every time you watch the video there will likely be new things that jump out at you and the officers watching the video will pick out things that you may have missed. Once you have reviewed it a number of times then build in enough time into the syllabus, grab your remote and be ready for some great discussions and some powerful learning.