“The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.” – Stanley Kubrick

Here at Root, we are strong proponents of visual learning. We often toss around the quote “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I would add that a moving picture is worth at least a million. (I only have a slight tendency to hyperbole.)

One of the fastest ways to provide a common understanding is through a story or a visual. The beauty of film is that it marries both approaches in less time. Imagine sitting in your office explaining to a co-worker how to change a tire. You can only use words. All right, I’ll make it easier: throw in a still picture of the car for good measure. I don’t know about you, but it could take me hours if I had no picture and slightly less with a photograph to illustrate. Rewind, and this time show a film to that same co-worker of someone changing a tire and even explaining as they did. Suddenly, the explanation is a 5-10-minute visual story that created a shared experience across all cultures, languages and levels of expertise.

Film enables students to immerse themselves in a story and it engages them in real-life situations. It can enhance student interest in content, and create an active learning environment that appeals to multiple senses. Because film is seen as a form of entertainment, something we go to see on weekends, it can be difficult to accept the value it adds to training. Everyone knows learning isn’t fun or entertaining – just ask your kids! Time to change our thinking. If I asked you to tell me why Robin Williams was able to motivate his students in Dead Poets Society, you could probably picture an exact moment in the movie, what was happening and what you were feeling as you described why the boys respected him. If, on the other hand, I just gave you a workbook, or a module, with several bullet points identifying the six best ways to motivate students, you might be able to spout back a few of them, but they most likely wouldn’t have left an emotional impact or connection. The only thing that they would have left would be your memory of them as soon as lunch hit.

Ok, great, so film is engaging, memorable, time effective, and a million other fantastic things – how do you use it in training? Here are a few ways we have found film to be a useful training tool both in groups and individual sessions:

• To reinforce material that has been covered
• To prompt thought and discussion
• To provoke a feeling, to inspire or motivate
• To examine parallel experiences in the work environment
• To learn abstract concepts by depicting observable behaviors
• To use humor to introduce sensitive or difficult concepts

In future blogs we’ll dig into each one of these and talk about examples that could work in different curriculum and approaches. Now you tell us – how would you imagine using film in your training? What other ways can it be an effective way to align your people, motivate them to action, or increase their understanding of their own tasks?

November 1, 2007


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