Say the word video at the start of an e-learning project, and many of us will enthusiastically call out, "Lights, Camera, Action!" And then we'll pause, as we start thinking of the Hollywood budgets often required for projects using video. But the success of YouTube should give us all inspiration that creativity can count for more than budget when it comes to adding video to a learning experience. The Authoring Tool in our dominKnow LCMS includes a video capture feature that allows video to be recorded from a web cam directly to a page in your e-learning course. The first idea that most people think of when they discover this feature is that it's a quick and easy way to record a talking head video clip, like an introduction to a topic or a welcome greeting at the start of a course. But flex your creative muscles a little further, and you'll see there are far more engaging learning experiences that can be created with this tool. Here's an example. Last week I was asked by a client to show them what a video-capture screen can look like in the LCMS. I didn't have an example readily at hand, so I quickly put one together. Instead of just recording myself doing an introduction, though, I took a few minutes and developed a bit of a back story to use as part of a scenario, in this case a phone sales call. In the example, the learner watches the video to hear and see my responses to the conversation so far, and then makes a decision on what action to take next. Creating the page only took about 10 minutes, including recording time. Here's a screen cap (and yes, that's my mug in the video). An approach like this takes advantage of video's ability to help us tell a story, and stories can bring powerful engagement advantages to the learning experience. And almost as importantly, it doesn't take a Hollywood budget to carry out. In fact, the nature of the scenario even turned the limited quality of my computer's mic into a contextually-relevant production feature for this clip. Since the scenario is based around a phone sales call, no one will expect big budget editing or foley effects in the soundtrack. A little mic and background noise is just what you'd expect in a phone call. There are many other inexpensive ways to bring video into your next e-learning project. Try sending your SMEs out with video cameras to record clips that explain important topics or demonstrate critical skills. Hey, the budget could be very tight on this, since so many of us now carry a video recorder -- also known as a cell phone -- in our pocket every day. Your SMEs won't likely be expert videographers or even professional actors or voice-over talents. But their in-depth knowledge of the topic or task and the personal experience they speak from can give the video clips an authenticity no actor could ever reach, either. And authenticity is another great way to create engagement in a learning experience. You'll be surprised at how much usable video you get in a hurry, and if anything needs to be reshot, you'll already have a working prototype of it for use during storyboarding. What's the lesson here? Don't let your ears hear "video" and your mind automatically think "Hollywood budget". Daring to think differently can hep take your next e-learning course to a new level of learning engagement -- and that really is the goal, after all. Chris Van Wingerden is Vice President Learning Solutions at dominKnow Learning Systems.