We love a good training video at HowToo. A well-placed, well-designed video can grab your learner’s attention to provide a massive boost to engagement and knowledge retention.

We’re always keeping our eyes out for brilliant, creative and unexpected approaches to teaching through videos, so here’s a roundup of our favourites.

#1 Dumb Ways to Die

What it is: A 3 minute long music video from Metro Trains Melbourne, released in 2012. It was followed up by an app-based game the following year that also featured the music video.

What it’s teaching: Customer safety around trains. It was credited with cutting the number of “near-miss” accidents by more than 30 percent in the months following its release.

Why we like it: This is a fantastic example of creative teaching and lightheartedness from an unexpected source. The train safety message lasted just 15 fifteen seconds, and communicated a common-sense message without being condescending. Today it sits at just under 200 million views on Youtube. 

#2 Kurzgesagt - In a Nutshell

What it is: A design studio producing highly-researched, animated videos. Each video takes a minimum of 1200 hours to construct, from research time to the hard work of 2-3 animators over a number of weeks. It’s almost entirely funded by it’s 13.1 million subscribers.

What it’s teaching: Everything from what would happen if we detonated all the nuclear bombs at once to what would happen if you threw an elephant off a skyscraper

Why we like it: We may not be able to pronounce the German name, but we love the gorgeous, smooth animation with instant brand recognition. The quirky topics are matched with tongue-in-cheek humour and concise, approachable explanations of complex ideas.  

#3 It’s amazing what water can do

What it is: A video ad campaign from Sydney Water.

What it’s teaching: Small but effective tips for reducing water waste.

Why we like it: The poetic approach to the copy is matched with a wonderfully calming voice over and animation that lets the message standout between the noise of other adverts. Like Dumb Ways to Die, the takeaway lesson arrives late and focuses on a single, simple direction for maximum impact and minimum condescension.

#4 Webflow University

What it is: A library of lessons from website service provider Webflow. Lessons include videos, text and images.

What it’s teaching: A wide range of digital skills that assist you to use Webflow’s services, including design, SEO, animations and eCommerce.

Why we like it: More than anything, we love the trademark humour that Webflow brings to all it’s videos. We also like the slick, minimalist design and attention to WCAG design principles. Unfortunately, the lessons are quite text-heavy, and could do with being broken down into smaller chunks instead of attempting to cover an entire topic on a single page.

#5 TED-Ed

What it is: A huge range of short videos from the organisation that brought you TED talks.

What it’s teaching:The videos, averaging around five minutes long, answer questions and explain concepts on everything from complex math and science to a day in the life of a Mongolian Queen.

Why we like it: TED-Ed videos do a great job of taking complicated ideas and making them simple and accessible for anyone, with a particular aim towards young students. Many videos conclude by raising implications and suggesting ongoing considerations. Unlike Kurzgesagt, the animation style varies from video to video, representing collaborations from a wide range of community-sourced educators and animators.

#6 Workplace Bullying - ReachOut

What it is: A short video by Australian mental health organisation ReachOut.

What it’s teaching: How to recognise different forms of workplace bullying, and how to act in a bullying situation.

Why we like it: The video starts with a definition of workplace bullying, but quickly acknowledges that this might feel obvious or uninspiring. It moves to what might be less obvious, i.e. the subtle ways that workplace bullying can play out and how to resolve it, before concluding with the message that workplace bullying should never be tolerated- obviously! This clever messaging is interwoven with engaging storytelling to educate adults on an easily-dismissed topic.

#7 All About CTP - SIRA / Savv-e

What it is: A short series of videos by Australia’s State Insurance Regulatory Authority, designed and animated by Savv-e.

What it’s teaching: How to easily understand, navigate and dispute insurance claims.

Why we like it: These videos manage to take complex processes and make them simple and straightforward for a very broad audience. We especially love the calming and sympathetic tone that would be a balm for anyone coming to these videos during the kind of stressful times that warrant these insurance claims.Bonus points for the consistent branding through the use of colour, and for the diversity of the characters represented.