Training Videos vs Elearning: How to make a better choice

Having trouble deciding which is your better option? We compare/contrast training videos and e-learning, and then give examples of which suits what.

Both videos and e-learning courses are powerful training options. The question is, “When should you use one or the other?” This article will compare and contrast the two approaches over six variables, and then give examples of where each option might be best to be used.


Length of training

Information in small doses

Training videos offer bite-sized learning. That is, complete training in a very short time since the most effective videos are microlearning videos (under 10 minutes). Organizations should leverage videos when there is some quick information to be taught, especially when learners need the knowledge/skills for their jobs.

Longer instruction

While individual e-learning course segments can be short doses, also known as microlearning modules, the entire e-course is usually much longer. E-learning better suits more complex training which needs to be broken down into smaller segments with assessment after each stage.



No tracking needed

Since videos are best used for specific training, especially procedures that require a series of sequential steps, no tracking is needed. It will be obvious from the learner’s performance on the job whether or not they watched the video and absorbed the information. So, videos would not suit compliance or safety training.

Tracking recommended

On the other hand when you are conducting training that is easy for your employees to skip or pretend to watch (let’s face it - we’ve all been there), tracking is highly recommended, meaning that e-learning is the better choice. This is especially true for compliance training, process training, onboarding training, and safety training.

Tracking is built into an e-learning course. Tracking examples include knowing how long a learner took to complete a module, whether or not they passed the quiz and what their answers are, and where they are overall in the training process. This information can help you ensure your employees have not only reviewed the material, but have also absorbed it and are capable of implementing it.

v gh


Interactive videos

The original form of videos (linear videos) is not interactive. As its name implies, linear videos move in one line from start to finish. The only “interactivity” possible is pausing, rewinding, fast forwarding, or restarting.

Yet, interactivity is a powerful way to increase learner engagement and retention. To leverage this benefit, interactive videos now exist. At the moment, interactive videos are being used more for marketing purposes. However, there is no reason why they cannot be adapted for training needs also.

In addition to clicking, dragging, gesturing, hovering, and scrolling, here are more interactive features which these videos offer the trainee:

  • A full view—Learners can rotate a video frame’s screen to get a 360 degree view of the scene.
  • More information—Clickable hotspots are able to offer additional information inside the video or links to another web page.
  • Data capture—Embedded fields can capture user information.
  • Learner control—The branching facility enables trainees to have some control over which content they see, including some customization.
  • Assessments—Quizzes can be used to keep learners interested and motivated, as well as check retention.
Levels of interactivity

E-learning offers a variety of interactivity options. You can turn down the dial to zero in which an instructor frontally presents material online. Alternatively, turn the interactivity dial up to the maximum to allow live, real-time learner participation via polls, chats, and quiz questions.

Interactivity increases learner focus, engagement, and retention. To leverage this, e-learning uses methodologies such as:

  • Application simulation—augmented and virtual reality software and equipment give the learner “as if” real life experience.
  • Gamification—activities include elements of game playing: peer competition, scoring points, etc.
  • Scenario based learning (SBL)—learners receive complex cases (stories, scenarios) for which they must find solutions.

 v hgvg

Repetition and mobility

Super easy

Videos are there when, where, and via which device the learner prefers. Learners can watch videos on their cell phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc. They can watch whenever they want, no matter where they happen to be—since videos can be downloaded, no internet is required. This means videos offer anytime, anywhere “on the go” training.

Not so easy

E-learning courses usually require learners to be on a particular learning management system (LMS) or accessing a certain Learning Portal. Most often, the internet is needed. Depending on the elearning material or task type, it may not be so comfortable to see or do on smaller devices.


Videos are best suited for:

  • Step by step processes, such as:
    • Acessing your SharePoint.
    • Updating your social media.
    • Making changes to your profile.
  • Quick, to-the-point updates, such as:
    • An important, creative video on Coronavirus precautions and preventive measures.
    • A reminder video on how and when to submit a support ticket.
    • A bi-yearly, update video on any company wide changes in compliance.
  • Refreshing your learners periodically after providing in depth-training, such as:
    • Summarizing the sales cycle with a microlearning video.
    • Using a high level, overview video to indicate the key personnel and deliverables for each stage of launching a new drug into the market.
    • Depicting the proper protocol regarding care of lab equipment via a whiteboard animation video.

E-learning is best suited for:

  • Application simulation training on a tool/technology, such as:
    • Workday (an ERP solution).
    • Jobdiva (an Applicant Tracking System).
    • Sprinklr (a marketing tool).
  • In-depth process training, such as:
    • Scenario-based learning for developers on using a new system.
    • Safety training for a new mechanical plant.
    • Sales training for medical reps.

Top Takeaway

Your organization’s training needs are your best guide when choosing between video and elearning. As discussed above, it depends on what you need to accomplish. Once you have identified your goals/objectives, review the variables above to see which road is going to be more useful in getting you there. Many organizations are finding that a blended training approach (using both video and elearning) is the best way to go.