If you want to capture knowledge for training content, there are a variety of ways to readily achieve this. Like many solutions, there are both simple and powerful alternatives to capture knowledge. The training content and objectives will determine whether you need a quick fix or a dedicated solution. Let’s consider a range of options to capture knowledge at your organisation.
Internal knowledge sharing starts with documentation. This is the classic ‘knowledge management‘ approach. Subject matter experts can create documents capturing their knowledge with almost no cost or training at all. Most professionals are capable of using Microsoft Word to create documents with headings and images. Those documents can be saved as is and/or distributed via reliable PDF format. It’s quick and easy to update.
However, documentation based internal knowledge has some severe limits for training content.
- There is no interaction by the reader, so the transfer of knowledge requires a highly motivated participant who is comfortable learning by reading.
- It’s very hard to tell who has read a document. Tracking of knowledge sharing and completed training is almost impossible.
- The reader cannot contribute, cannot interact and cannot watch live movement. Images may be available, but that’s about it.
- Documents need to be accessible. Without a platform to share, categorise and search document content, sharing can be difficult.
- Documentation is not secure. It is hard to track versions and documents are easy to share externally.
That being said, for some forms of simple internal knowledge, short processes, or some technical reference knowledge, this may be an effective method to capture knowledge.
Slides (such as PowerPoint or Keynote) are a variation on a document. Slides can give more structure and, if well written and well represented, can be slightly easier for staff to digest. It’s a very popular way to capture knowledge in a professional services firm. Slides can also be more easily presented – so they can be combined with some of the other sharing methods outlined here.
Slides still have all the limits of documentation though when it comes to sharing that knowledge.
- They are passive and unmonitored.
- They are largely static and not easy to find.
- They are just as insecure as documents.
- Worse, if the slides are not well designed, they can be far worse than documents.
A set of slides containing just short bullet points may well be meaningless to the uninformed, whereas a document with complete explanations would provide more context.
Video recordings of your subject matter experts are a great way to capture knowledge. Videos are engaging to watch, provide more context than text alone, and can demonstrate techniques and skills more intuitively.
There are many ways to capture knowledge via video of your internal experts.
- Screen recordings. This involves your internal experts recording their screen as they complete a task. Typically, they would also narrate their actions over the video. There are many free or low-cost screen recording options.
- Many computers and laptops have built-in webcams which can record simple ‘talking head’ videos of your experts as they explain key concepts. With a simple background, decent lighting and good audio, this can be a quick way to capture video thoughts.
- Mobile phones. The video recording capabilities of modern mobile phones are amazing. It is easy to shoot interviews or demonstrations of your experts. The key with mobile phone record is audio. If the phone is too far away, the audio quality can be very poor. Dedicated lapel microphones may be required.
- A professional video shoot can provide high-quality video and audio, usually with engaging editing and titles. It can also eliminate problems of poor lighting, background distractions, shaky videos and so on. The only issue is cost.
Video by itself is not a solution though. Video needs to be available to everyone in your firm. Therein lies some of the challenges of video.
- Good video is good, but it’s easy to create a terrible video. Poor audio, bad lighting, boring presenters, poor editing and more.
- Video files are huge. For smooth video playback, you need a dedicated video hosting environment, capable of streaming video at high quality to multiple viewers and on any device. Merely saving video files on a shared drive doesn’t accomplish this.
- Videos need text documentation to allow for searches. A folder full of videos isn’t easy to search. Dedicated video hosting environments require text summaries of the videos to enable staff to find the right videos.
- Videos are fixed assets. Once recorded, they are almost impossible to change later. If something in the video becomes out of date, it is hard to remove and often impossible replace, that single piece of outdated content. This is perhaps a key reason why technical information presented via video must be done carefully to limit future risks.
- Videos can be created quickly by experienced staff, but can also become significant time wasting experiences. Poor videos might need to be re-recorded. Staff inexperienced with video presentation may require many takes. Editing videos can take a long time.
- Videos do not work well for the hearing or sight impaired without some careful planning. Captions can be costly (time or money) to create for the hearing impaired. Videos for the sight impaired need to be carefully constructed.
Ultimately videos are compelling but require some careful construction and an appropriate video hosting environment.
We’ll continue this analysis in a later article which examines the use of presentations, social media, eLearning modules and knowledge sharing platforms to capture knowledge for training content.