In the 1980s, video learning was the domain of a select few. Corporate training guides and educational resources were circulated on VHS and distributed in the mail, seldom leaving the classroom or the boardroom.
When YouTube came along, it ushered in a training revolution for the digital age. Among the cute kitten clips and big-budget music videos were language lessons and do-it-yourself drills, changing the way people engaged with educational materials.
This user-generated content — video learning 2.0 — let viewers study from the comfort of their own homes, sparking a new wave of learning and development. YouTube has transformed video learning ever since. It's inspired brands to develop new tech innovations and left long-established training organizations playing catch-up.
How YouTube Revolutionized Video Learning
When YouTube launched in 2005, users soon began to create their own learning resources. As the platform increased in popularity, so did the number of content creators who uploaded videos to the site, covering topics such as business, finance, history and life skills.
Today, there are more than 10 million subscribers in YouTube's #Education category, with channels such as SciShow — which encompasses science-based content — and TED — conferences organized by the nonprofit Sapling Foundation — generating hundreds of millions of views. Other video sharing platforms, such as Veoh and Dailymotion, have followed suit, letting anyone with a passion for education become a teacher in a virtual classroom.
There are restrictions on this type of educational content, however. Videos usually come with commercials or might be deleted, and some content creators return to their day jobs and give up making videos halfway through a course. That's why many viewers have turned to legacy training organizations that now upload content to the platform.
Educational institutions such as the Open University, which dates back to 1969, provide a whole new generation with access to their learning guides. Their videos, which have a collective 32 million views, run the gamut from social sciences to philosophy to business. PBS Learning Media now also uploads videos on YouTube.
The Future of Video Learning
Unlike training guides on VHS, DVD or CD-ROM, students can access online video on their mobile devices wherever they are in the world. This has spurred various startups and scale-ups to invest in video learning, and many offer a contemporary solution to the growing demand for knowledge. Trainual lets brands build online training manuals with gamified accountability checks, for example, attracting vendors, salespeople and customers from various niches.
In the digital age, there's also a desire for speedy communication, especially in the education sector where students have to exchange ideas and information quickly. Slack optimizes this need, letting users converse via team groups, private channels and direct message.
Videonitch sits somewhere in the sweet-spot between services like Slack and Trainual. It lets users create their own corporate video channels, enhancing learning and development via a streaming platform. It also facilitates information exchange through a powerful messaging system. These companies have built on YouTube's foundations and offer personalized services to corporate clients who want to enhance training in the workplace.
While older educational institutions and learning management systems are racing to add videos online, new companies approach video learning from a contemporary perspective. Organizations such as Videonitch realize that training and information exchange are equally important and are quick to adapt to the changing tastes of a digital audience. Educational tech has come a long way since those VHS tapes of the 1980s, and today, fortunately, there are more choices for people who want quick access to learning content.
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