Corporate e-Learning Using Video Scenarios: A Case Study
Creating Corporate e-Learning Video Scenarios for Facebook: Managing Diversity for a Global Audience
Video, as a tool, has been shown to be extremely beneficial for training, coaching, and development. Employee engagement is higher, goals are met and, unlike instructor-led training, video is a scalable option. As a result, more companies are turning towards video for internal training and L&D projects. Specifically, video scenarios have been shown to be more impactful in reaching learning goals compared to traditional teaching methods*.
The importance of video scenarios for training and L&D goals cannot be understated. Companies now have unprecedented reach and increased engagement, all within scale. And with the sophistication of digital environments, companies are beginning to rely more on video to reach global audiences without breaking the bank.
Without a doubt, video scenarios are shaping the corporate e-learning scene. Particularly, we’re seeing global brands use video to reach international employees, and these global learning goals and techniques present unique benefits as well as challenges. This white paper is meant to do a deep dive of a specific global eLearning project we worked on with Facebook for internal training purposes to show how we met the various hurdles of creating video on a global scale.
What you will learn: The process AMP used to meet Facebook’s objective of designing training videos for over 12,000 employees in over 50 offices across the world. Here we’ll explain both the goals and challenges that are inherent to the process so, in the future, corporate training and L&D teams can produce sophisticated, high-quality global e-learning projects that reflect their audiences and messages.
The project’s goal was to create scenario-based e-learning modules to teach and train Facebook’s employees about how unconscious biases can impact workplace performance. This training had been taking place via instructor led training (ILT), but Facebook wanted this training to be available for all of their employees across the world. So they sought a scalable solution for their rapidly growing, global workforce.
The challenge in casting was to accurately and naturally represent the diversity that reflects Facebook’s employee demographics across their U.S. and international offices.
Learning happens on a deeper level when people see others similar to themselves operating in action (versus reading information). So, for their training to be effective, we needed to create realistic people and scenarios that mirrored Facebook’s real-life workplace situations. This meant a more robust understanding of Facebook’s diversity not only in a North American context, but also in an international sense (i.e., how diversity differs geographically and culturally).
Clearly, global diversity was a key element of this project. The content hinged on creating training videos that were culturally accurate to employees. It was essential that there was equal and natural representation in a global sense for Facebook to communicate their learning goals.
It’s also important to mention that it wasn’t enough to simply take real Facebook employees and have them act out the various video scenarios. Again, for their training to be effective, AMP understood that we needed to appropriate the right resources to get the right results, and that meant hiring actors who could create a sense of familiarity with the target audiences.
In many markets, casting actors with natural accents from all over the world is difficult. We sought a solution that would be mindful of resources, yet still deliver on the goal of sourcing a cast that is as diverse as the people who use Facebook and the employees who work there.
Developing the concept
Because of the project scope, this part of the process was twofold: first was understanding who the global audience was (geographically and culturally), and second was understanding Facebook’s employee demographics on an individual level (variety of personality types, ages, etc.).
Keeping both of those factors in mind were crucial for “natural and accurate” representation in all video scenarios. We made sure we hit those two criteria by holding creative sessions with Facebook’s Program Manager, in consultation with global subject matter experts, where we discussed the content relevant to their learning goals. The research, content, and teaching points together gave shape to the scope of diversity that each video scenario required.
Another crucial part of this step was defining what diversity meant for this project. This part could be easily overlooked if each project stakeholder assumed that diversity is universally defined the same way. Taking a step back and looking at what diversity was in the context of unconscious bias, we were able to identify key points to hit both in the script and in our type-casting. Without this specific step, we would not have met Facebook’s overall project goals.
Diversity here was defined as a range of nationalities, ethnicities, genders, ages, personality types, and ability types.
AMP Director, Amy Lou Abernethy, reviews the script with the actors.
Writing the scripts
From this point, the next essential step was for us to sort the content and teaching points into what is universal and what we needed to modify so that we could write flexible scripts for the video scenarios. For example, a video used in North America might include baseball references, whereas a video in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa would not. Flexible scripts and versioning allowed for cultural accuracy.
During this stage, it was also important to consider whether these videos would need to be recreated in various languages, or perhaps include subtitles. For the purposes of this project, we did not need either. However, if your company decides you need several versions of the same video in different languages, you’ll need to adjust your scriptwriting accordingly. If native language subtitles are needed, you’ll need to build this translation and encoding into your timeline.
The scripts were also written and developed with Universal Design in learning principals. It was decided that captioning would be useful, not only for people with auditory impairments, but also for non-native English speakers and people with situational auditory impairments (such as learners consuming the videos in noisy environments or with the audio turned off). It was also decided that the audio portion of the videos needed to include enough description and verbal context to be useful for learning for people with visual impairments.
We went through several rounds of edits before we got the final scripts. As each stakeholder reviewed each version of the scripts, changes were made that circled back to the concept stage (e.g., how diversity was defined, which teaching points were the most important to highlight, etc.) This was essential for creating a robust learning platform to meet Facebook’s project goals.
Once the final scripts were vetted, we moved on to the casting stage.
AMP reviews video scenario footage at Facebook HQ.
Now that we knew exactly what global diversity looked like for this project, it was time to move into casting. For cost purposes, we first spoke with casting directors near our home studio to see if we could find actors who met the very specific diversity criteria. We discovered that despite the talent pool that exists locally, several of the natural accents we were casting for would require us to fly actors in from other areas of the country. So, we made the decision to cast and shoot at Facebook’s headquarters. Shooting in Menlo Park not only allowed us to make each video as authentic to Facebook’s culture as possible, but it also gave us access to the international pool of actors who live in the greater Bay Area.
Working within those constraints, we held casting sessions over two days to get a pool of 200 viable actors. Before showing our client talent selections, we narrowed the pool of possible actors based on their auditions.
After trimming the list of eligible actors, and to make the selection process easier for Facebook, we created a deck of each actor for Facebook to comb through with our top recommendations for each open role (a total of 18 across all video scenarios). We also posted sections of their taped auditions to our video hosting site, for client review. Again, approvals made included all stakeholders – this guaranteed that the videos were on track to meet both diversity goals (equal, natural, and accurate representation of Facebook’s population) as well as learning goals (training, teaching points).
It is also important to note here that we built in flexibility into this phase of the process, which was so necessary for the demands and limitations of casting. First, we needed to balance meeting diversity goals without sacrificing acting quality. Second, with such specific diversity criteria (e.g., female, natural Romanian, middle age) it was often difficult to find a perfect fit, so compromises needed to be made. However, too many compromises could affect the quality and undermine the content (using a Dutch man when the script calls for a Japanese woman), but on the other hand no compromises would bring the casting process to a standstill.
Casting changes were made even beyond the video shoot days, but these changes were minor and easily managed because of the flexible casting model AMP built into this process.
Production day! The actors and AMP crew prepare for the shoot.
Production was on site in Menlo Park, CA where sixty-one videos were shot over the course of three days. A pickup was done at our home studio, with a half day of production.
While shooting the various videos, AMP worked alongside a Facebook representative who could make sure that each scenario was true to their culture and way of working. That included everything from Facebook-specific vernacular to what would likely be in a conference room during a meeting.
Small details like this increased the scenario’s authenticity, and (like we mentioned earlier) encouraged deeper learning.
Integration into e-Learning Design
The video scenarios provide powerful context for the Managing Bias e-learning. AMP worked closely with Facebook and a vendor partner to integrate the e-learning context with the videos and the messages of inclusion that they communicate.
The training series is still running with the hope that every Facebook employee across their international offices will take the online course.
*Dongsong Zhang, Lina Zhou, Robert O. Briggs, Jay F. Nunamaker Jr., Instructional video in e-learning: Assessing the impact of interactive video on learning effectiveness, Information & Management, Volume 43, Issue 1, January 2006, Pages 15-27, ISSN 0378-7206, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.im.2005.01.004. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378720605000170)