Video is a great tool to present and demonstrate content within an eLearning course. But video currently has some limits: there aren’t many options for integrating learner interaction, and it’s difficult to assess learning and collect analytic information.

We’re eager—and a bit impatient—to get past these limits. So we decided to start our own series of case studies to see how far we can push interactivity with video.

For our case study 1.0, we had these criteria:

  • Use common and popular development tools. We decided to edit the video components in After Effects and assemble them in Storyline.
  • Start with a simple type of interactivity—in this case, we offer buttons and hotspots for learner selection.
  • Learn what we can and share it with the L&D community.
  • Have some fun and allow for some creativity.
  • Make an engaging piece that offers something to viewers.

Our case study 1.0 is a “meta video”—it gives some basic tips for getting started with video. For our own education, we wanted to experience the entire production process, from concept through filming and editing. We also act in the video, mainly because we’re a bunch of hams and this may be our only chance to star in a video.

Here’s the link to our video case study 1.0. (click the image).

A screenshot of Fredrickson Learning's interactive video. The screenshot shows buttons.

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Here are some of our key learning points from this experience:

Playback quality

The first completed version of the video played quite well in our high-bandwidth development environment. We were ready to pat ourselves on the back…

…until we started testing on lower connection speeds. Then we almost gave up! The playback experience on a typical DSL connection was awful—the video clanked, sputtered, took naps, and generally did very little of what we wanted it to do.

Thus began a frustrating period of editing and tinkering. We shortened some of the segments, we rendered at lower-quality levels, and we even switched from Storyline 2 to 360. The final result is a compromise: playback is acceptable but still not as smooth as we wanted, and there are longer download wait times than we would prefer.

Hosting and connection speeds are major considerations for playback quality, and these things should be carefully considered at the outset. Learners need to be informed of the minimum hardware and connection requirements when it affects playback performance.

Streaming could make a big difference. Storyline doesn’t stream video—it loads and then plays, and it only preloads three slides. In the next stage of our case study, we intend to explore options for streaming.

Oh—and the browser also matters! This was a surprise for us: what played well on Google Chrome did not play well on Internet Explorer.


Our case study 1.0 video does not work on a mobile device. The issue has to do with buttons. Since we were already editing the video in After Effects, we assumed we should create the button images in After Effects and then place Storyline hotspots over them. The problem is that the buttons and hotspots don’t scale and align when the video is played on a smaller screen. We should have created the buttons in Storyline.

Something else to keep in mind when making videos for mobile devices: auto-play is not permitted on most mobile devices. Videos created for mobile should use a start button rather than auto-play.

Closed captioning

When we built the video, closed captioning wasn’t an easy option in Storyline 2 and required a more manual approach. It’s now a much smoother process in Storyline 3 and 360. The key is to allow room for the captioning in your layout design…..and consider that design across different devices.

What worked well for us

We planned our photo shoots carefully, we used good-quality equipment, and for each scene we shot more footage than needed—it’s always easier to edit down than to re-shoot.

We used narration instead of live audio. Not having to mess around with microphones in the filming saved a lot of time and effort, and the audio quality was easier to control. Editing was also much easier, having the audio files be independent from the video.

Based on feedback from viewers, the design is engaging, entertaining, and informative.

Next steps

Hosting, streaming, and carrying out mobile-ready design are just some of the issues we want to tackle with this series of case studies. We also want to explore other forms of learner interaction, as well as methods to assess learning and collect analytics.

If you have thoughts, suggestions, or questions about interactive video, we’d love to hear from you!

4 Comments on “Interactive Video: our case study 1.0

  1. Jake Turner

    Love the video and this article.

    I’m highly interested in this and would love to help tinker with a streaming video. A streaming solution would help with mobile access and bandwidth issues for varying connection speeds. YouTube for example clones the video from very small sized formats to super large HD – it detects connecting then serves up what the pipe would allow. So upload one HD video but then it makes a 280p, 360p, 480p, 720p, 1080p, etc… It transcodes automatically which is a great feature. Problem is companies don’t want content on YouTube, so what vendor out there can do easily embeddable auto-transcoded videos? I have yet to fine one but the closest I’ve come to (you can problem guess)…

    I’ve read storyline 3 can host embedded video but I wonder if a state can be altered and if the video can be paused. I am thinking not yet based on this:

    I do believe that this is functionality that is being figured out by multiple parties and am hoping we resolve it soon. Gone should be the days of sending an ENTIRE video file at once while compromising quality.

    1. Dave Lasecke

      Jake, this is great information! I really appreciate that you shared it with us. We’ll look for a chance to have your help as we move forward. One direction I want to explore is using other vendor platforms, such as Rapt Media, which look like they could offer more options for authoring and streaming interactive video. Have you explored other vendor products?

  2. Mary Rollins

    Love that you shared your experience with us and provided tips to help us avoid some of the same “challenges”! Thank you!
    I’ve created some interactive video content for a recent course and ended up using “snippets” of videos – so I had interactive scenarios vs. the entire interactive video- seems to be working well for our purposes. Would love to do a “full video”- so I’m also interested in tinkering with this more- as our eval results have been VERY positive.

  3. Dave Lasecke

    Thanks Mary! I know our community would love to hear more about your videos. We’re starting plans for a showcase in late February–can I talk and your team into taking part in that?


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