July 27, 2009

Agriculture communication. Part 2. Using moving images. Video and DVD

Using moving images. Video or DVD

D.C Dalton and G.R. Moss

How long can we concentrate for?
Research some years ago showed that students’ concentration times averaged around 7 minutes.  This is out of date, and we suggest from personal experience that 2.5 to 3 minutes is now more like it.

This has been driven by the massive increase in TV advertising, and primary school teaching where group activity and talking all the time are actively encouraged.  So expecting mature people to learn,(whose learning patterns are no different to children) and enjoy the experience while sitting and listening for long periods of an hour or more has long gone, and today’s farmers are no exception.

Things to check before using video or DVD
  • What are you going to play it on? 
  • Is the power source reliable?
  • Have a Plan B in case things go wrong.
  • Make sure everything works well before the meeting. Get there at least an hour before and give things a run through.
  • Make sure you know what’s on the video!  You could have picked up the wrong one!
  • Set the sound levels to what you think is correct, and check again with the audience when things are running.  A full room requires a higher volume of sound.
  • If you are not sure how the equipment works, make sure someone who does is at the venue.  This is especially the case with hired gear.  Never trust the batteries in hired gear – always ask for extras.
  • Check that everyone in the audience can see the screen.  Remember that apart from the front row (that nobody likes to sit in), participants will have someone sitting in front of them, so get the screen up high.
  • Stack up the back row seats (or put reserved on them) till people fill the front rows.

Limitations of videos and DVDs
Consider the limitations of videos and DVDs in getting your message across so you’ll provide a positive learning experience for the audience.
  • Videos and DVDs are costly to make. They are only cheap to reproduce.
  • There’s a rapidly increasing number of them available, but inevitably they are not precisely on the topic you want.  So it’s tempting to use them, with a high risk of confusing your own message.
  • In New Zealand, it’s tempting to use overseas material that is not relevant, or is only partly so, so you can waste time putting the message into local perspective.
  • Videos and DVDs are ‘one-way’ communication which is a major problem.  There’s something about a movie with soothing music that puts an audience into a relaxed state, so when ‘questions or discussion’ time arrives – there is a deathly silence. They can kill face-to-face communication – nobody can talk back to a video.
  • To avoid this trap, run a video through once with sound, then run it with no sound, hitting the pause button at frequent intervals to discuss important points.

How to increase benefits
  • Don’t show a video or DVD when the audience is tired or hungry – or too well fed and sleepy!
  •  Use selective listening exercises. For example: Ask Group 1 to look for things they strongly agree with. Ask Group 2 to look for things they strongly disagree with. Then ask Group 3 to suggest things that could and should have been included in the message.
  • Get a spokesperson from each group to briefly summarise their findings.
  • Have a team quiz (with prizes) between the three groups on the subject content.  Make this fun and memorable.

Further reading.
Moss, Geoffrey. (2006). 'Training secrets'.
ISBN 0-9583538-8-3

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