During the Excellence in Training course we engage in a number of conversations about ways to use videos more effectively as a powerful learning tool to teach and enhance decision-making, review policy and law and examine tactics. I am not a fan of showing videos for shock value, or showing videos for pure entertainment value. I occasionally get criticized for not using enough videos.
At a recent Excellence in Training Course one of the participants asked, “How many videos is too many to use in a class?” My answer to that question is the same as it is to so many questions, “It depends.” It depends on the length of the training class and the purpose of the videos. It depends on the teaching and learning points from each video and how long will it take you to use the video properly.
The caveat with the videos I use is that we are not viewing them to be critical of the officer in the video; we are watching it to learn from his or her experience in order to better prepare the class participants to perform in the most desirable manner when they find themselves in a similar situation.
With videos of incidents involving law enforcement officers I am generally not an advocate of showing the whole video first and then having a discussion about what the officer did or did not do. Watching the full video first results in the participants’ responses being influenced by hindsight bias. They already know everything the subject did and they already know the outcome, which is an advantage the officer(s) in the video did not have.
I am an advocate of breaking videos down and stopping them at several key decision points in the video and then having discussions about policy, legal authorities, tactics and force options. Breaking a video down in this manner takes a lot of time in a class, but has far greater benefits for the participants. If a patrol sergeant was using this method with their shift it might mean they only watch a short clip at each roll call followed by a discussion on the key teaching points, taking one or two weeks actually watch and discuss the full incident.
If I am using a short clip from a TEDx talk or similar type of video I will play that clip without interruption, then we will have a discussion about the key takeaways from the video.
So, back to the original question from the Excellence in Training Course participant, “How many videos are too many?” It depends. Just be cautious of using a lot of videos simply to entertain the participants. Videos are meant to be an aide to enhance learning, not simply a filler to replace teaching, training and learning.
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