The Neuroscience of E-Learning Through Video

Sales Enablement Through Video, Neuroscience & Micro-Learning

Can employees learn better, faster and stronger through video? The answer is: yes.

Video E-Learning can benefit business, and neuroscience can prove it. How?  

Even though no brain is identical in function, and people have different learning styles, there are some general truths we can find in science about how brains learn. 

In this article we’ll get into

  • Why sales enablement can be improved by following the principles of learning.
  • How micro-learning is perhaps the MOST natural way for people to learn.
  • What kind of science there is behind videos, and how effective it truly is.
  • Why more and more companies are using video to “get ahead” of their competition.
  • And just how does the brain learn through video?

From research into the neuroscience of learning, we can see that we learn just as well through video as we do in traditional learning environments.


The question is why?

The benefits of video for business 

Before we dive in, lets quickly talk about the benefits of video and learning. Why would you even consider investing into it?

The results of implementing video E-learning can range from 

  • increased retention with faster onboarding 
  • to lower costs by scaling up teaching 
  • And profitability in other areas (like getting agents trained quicker)

Because of this the explosion of software that helps employees learn, or map out processes has grown exponentially over the last few decades.

The benefits for employee training with video are undeniable. 

But what exactly is going on behind the scenes?

The Brain, It’s Parts and Video E-Learning

The prefrontal cortex, amygdala and hippocampus are the parts of the brain most researched in conjunction with learning. 


Research shows that different parts of the brain are used at all times, but these three areas are the control areas, as such. Our prefrontal cortex is the reasoning part of our brain; the amygdala is the seat of our emotional responses, and the hippocampus is the memory center of the brain. 

Being engaged in a video E-lesson activates the same areas in the brain as you'd find in traditional learning environments. What’s happening is active learning, which can happen in a classroom or through E-learning. 

The key elements of a successful (online) curriculum bring together what's needed for active learning to take place. Take, for instance, learning styles, working memory, learning conditions as examples of such elements. 

Learning styles: why are they important?

When someone learns through video, they are being sent information through visual, auditory and kinesthetic methods. 

Visual learners get to see to better remember; audio learners can focus on listening to the content, and by including interactive elements, kinesthetic learning would be possible too.

For E-learning to be effective, in particular, video E-learning, learners get the benefits of all learning styles in one medium. 


How Video Hacks Your Working Memory

Working Memory is information that is readily available to us. Our working memory functions by retaining small amounts of information which we can access on demand. Thus, when we are learning something, there is a temporary activation of neurons happening. When something gets converted into long-term memory, the neurons and their connections change. 

How do videos maximize working memory? In a study on how working memory underpins learning,we learn that linking information in a system is better than being delivered in parts, and this can help to avoid cognitive load. 

Video can assist in delivering the right amount of information to engage learners, but the content of the video is crucial. 

If the video is on company policy in regards to vacations, you would not expect to learn unrelated information, say on dress policy. Ideas need to flow sequentially.

Thus, organizing information into relevant chunks and including interactive elements, which incorporates different learning styles is best for the memory. Because it activates the most parts of the brain increasing retention.

Learning Conditions: Video Means Learn Anywhere

Neuroscience shows us that the conditions in which we learn are fundamental to how much we learn. Positive environments that engage learners create better outcomes. 

Compare a day-long HR corporate training event, where employees sit listening to presentation after presentation, to doing 5 videos with assessments at the end that can be done from work or home. 


Not only would the company be saving time and resources, but you would have more efficient learning systems in place where your employees are given materials that are better for their brains to digest, or just at more convenient times.

Neuroscience also shows us that active learning is when the student is engaged with the content not just presented with it. Interactive videos and assessments provide engagement and meet different learners’ needs.

So in most cases pairing your video with a LMS (learning management system) is the ideal way to verify whether or not employees are truly retaining information.

Chunking Videos, In Other Words - Microlearning

Microlearning is a perfect example of how E-learning can best be applied. As the name implies, microlearning uses bite-sized chunks as part of its process. 

The chunks are minutes long, usually organized around a topic and delivered in a sequence. That said, you could have a library of micro videos that staff could refer to instead of following a sequence. 

Microlearning, you could argue, is the working memory’s favorite learning technique. As it is only a small amount of information, whether simple or complex, it is effective in of itself. The lesson would be just the right amount of information for the working memory to digest and process. The practice and production elements necessary for learning help convert microlearning from the working memory to the long-term memory.

In fact, one company we worked with used micro-learning within the context OF their processes for sales reps. So they would have video embedded directly in SalesForce and reps could learn how to do things like 

  • Upsell customers at a specific part of the process
  • Correctly enter information so it’s accurate and organized
  • Understand how the CRM is setup to correctly use it 

The idea here is instead of flooding the person with ideas around the topic - you can micro-learn and show them what they need to know, when they need to know it.

What this creates is the “right time, right place, right message” to maximize retention. As after learning the content, the person can put it into action immediately. 

This is one of the most effective ways of using video for corporate training and elearning.

Theories on Learning Applied to Video E-Learning

In EdTech, Instructional Design, Communications, among other disciplines, learning opportunities where technology and information meet are enormous. Many now incorporate Neuroscience as a lens to study learning. 

Two theories, for example, can be applied to the neuroscience of E-Learning through video. The first is Robert Gagne’s studies on conditions of learning and the cognitive processes therein, and the second is Dual Coding Theory. Both can be used to show how Video E-Learning can help to meet learning goals effectively and efficiently. 

What is Gagne's Hierarchy of Learning?

In a study on the conditions of learning, Robert Gange states there are eight types or levels of learning, which are built upon each other until reaching the most complex form. These are signals, stimulus-response, chaining, verbal association, discrimination, concepts, rules, solving problems.

Taking this theory into the brain and learning, we follow 9 cognitive processes to learn and use that knowledge. They are:

  1. Reception
  2. Expectancy
  3. Retrieval
  4. Selective Perception
  5. Semantic Encoding
  6. Responding
  7. Reinforcement
  8. Retrieval
  9. Generalisation 

These cognitive processes are the steps to take for successful learning. Knowing what you are learning, understanding what’s expected of you, being presented with information in a way you understand, and having to practice it in order to produce it is the process for the student. The teacher/presenter/material needs to cover all these steps to create best learning conditions.

With in-video training, you have all the necessary cognitive processes put to work. Information can be presented appealing to different learner styles, then practiced and finally produced in (self-)assessments. The conditions of E-learning allow for more flexibility for learners, at convenient times, and at different levels of complexity.

However it’s important to know that learning happens at the individual level. Each must take responsibility for their own learning - and to successfully integrate information requires going through a process similar to the out outlined above.

Now lets look into another landmark theory of cognitive learning.

What is Paivio’s Dual Coding Theory? 

Allan Paivio’s Dual Coding Theory shows how both verbal and non-verbal processing is part of the learning process. At the same time, we can process both verbal and non-verbal cues. 

When it comes to learning, think of what you’re learning as the software, and you’re writing its code. You can write it with words or images, and the brain will retain both. When we’re learning using written material or listening to an audio track, we are taking in verbal information. The addition of visuals allows for the brain to absorb more content, stay focused, and engage more with the information.

An example of dual coding in action is asking students to create a timeline to go along with historic events. Now you are blending the text with a visual - therefore increasing retention. You can see how videos actively do this all the time.

The idea behind dual coding is combining words and images to have a greater effect on the viewer.

Why Video E-Learning Works for Business

Very simply, it works for 3 main reasons:

  1. The Right Amount of Information

Using video chunks does not risk overloading the working memory, which then could lead to cognitive load. The opposite is at work. Your brain is given just the right amount of information that it would need to practice and produce for long-term learning. 

  1.  Interactive Learning

Dynamic lessons that include interactive methods allow for better retention of the subject matter. The method incorporates elements of different learner styles, which means wider engagement and better results.

  1. Saves Time and Resources

A business can become more efficient with its resources and effective by implementing internal communications videos, and for HR, there is the option of video for corporate training.

There may be an initial outlay to develop the materials, but once it is all in place, your business will be able to multiply workforce engagement. Many companies choose to outsource to specialist video production firms instead of doing it in-house.

The costs involved in making animated educational videos are far lower in the long-run when you consider the costs involved in employee training, professional development, and in-house training using traditional in-person methods.


Few Resources on Micro-Learning and Sales Enablement

Before we finish up, here’s a few more videos that you should check out which can help to wrap your mind around this subject:

This will help to fill in the gaps and build on what’s been written above.

The Neuroscientific Last Say

When you learn through video, you are creating new pathways in your brain. It’s your neuroplasticity at work. After practicing and producing new skills and knowledge, you’ve created solid pathways for neurons to travel along, which takes knowledge from your working memory and places it in your long-term memory.

Paivo’s Dual Coding theory applies to video as through this lens we can see how video can cater to different learning styles, allowing for it to be an effective medium for learning. Gagne’s hierarchy reveals how different cognitive processes are at play when we are engaged in the learning process. That, then, is the final crucial element - ensuring that active learning takes place through dynamic and interactive methods. 

The benefits of video E-learning for business are, then, numerous, and not limited to student satisfaction - the neuroscience backs it up.