And yes, those are two legitimate concerns for e-learning professionals, especially as the workforce changes. By 2025, Millennials alone will make up that 75 percent of the workforce—and the average attention span of the Millennial generation is 90 seconds (if you want to read more about Millennials, click here to check out our previous white paper). Microlearning may not take the place of more structured training, but it certainly is a strong contender to support another time-honored concept—just-in-time learning.
There are plenty of ways to deliver microlearning—you can tweet links to pop quizzes, send texts that introduce or review key concepts or incorporate gaming that can be accessed at the learner’s desktop or via a tablet or mobile device. And if you want real bang for your buck, consider going Hollywood by using video.
Why is video an effective way to deliver microlearning?
Did you know that between 70 and 75 percent of Millennials visit YouTube monthly (a lot of them are probably at work when they do it)? And it’s not just the young ‘uns—according to Neilson, video is the most popular content consumed globally regardless of age. With a private, dedicated YouTube channel, you can disseminate short videos about ANYTHING—an important sales technique, a software shortcut, an easier way to change a tire. And those videos would be available anytime, anywhere, and as often as the learner needs to view them.
Video also appeals to visual and aural learners. You can add closed captioning, descriptive audio, graphics, animation, catchy tunes—basically, video-based microlearning can be tailored to meet multiple audiences, which also bumps up knowledge transfer and retention. And since videos can be updated and distributed comparatively easily, your learners will have the assurance of knowing they are getting current information.
And video production flexes to meet your budget. If you have the time and the money, pull out all the stops and unleash your inner Spielberg. If you need something fast and inexpensive, pick up a GoPro. You don’t have to be an expert to produce a decent video on a shoestring. And you can have a lot of fun with it!
How do you create effective microlearning videos?
A Google search for “microlearning video tips” yields a bounty of resources you can refer to when building video microlearning. Here is a summary of key ideas to keep in mind before you set up your director’s chair.
Plan ahead—scout a good location, make sure there’s decent lighting, minimize or eliminate the possibility on- and off-camera distractions. If you’re going to use a narrator or actor, script what needs to be said and then rehearse it a few times. It’s painful to watch a person stutter and stammer and say “Oh, wait a minute, I forgot to mention one thing.” And here’s a pro tip—set up your camera so it’s slightly above the actor’s eye level. In short, take some time to make a positive impact. Even if you can’t swing high production values, you don’t want your on-a-shoestring video to look cheap. If the end result looks as if you don’t care, the learner may not care, either.
Planning also extends to keeping tight control over the video’s run time. In terms of microlearning, size matters, and bigger DEFINITELY isn’t better—microlearning videos should be 4 minutes or less. Learners want to get straight to the point. A good standard to follow is 120 words for every minute of video. And make the saying “When in doubt, leave it out; nice to know? Gotta go” your religion. You have 4 minutes. Don’t waste time with unnecessary content.
And one last note about planning: unlike classroom training or sequential e-learning modules, the learner is in control of how they consume microlearning topics. Effective short videos address one objective, to satisfy just-in-time needs. If your microlearning initiative exists in the service of a larger, more-encompassing training scheme, it’s a good idea to build flexibility into the learning plan so learners can bypass topics they know well and focus on those areas that need more support. And remember, you can link to additional microlearning topics, but it’s up to the learner to click that link.
Finally—focus, focus, focus. And that doesn’t just apply to the camera shot; keep the content focused on one bite-sized topic. Can you learn how to close a sale in 4 minutes? Unlikely. Can you learn how to create a decent opening statement for a sales presentation in 4 minutes? Oh yes, especially if the narration is accompanied by an actor actually delivering the opening statement at the end of the video. The learner can rewind and rewatch as much as needed to make the learning stick.
Want to view existing microlearning courses, and create one of your own? Visit TedEd, a free (registration required) site that links to existing Ted Talks or YouTube videos. You can build quiz questions, link to related resources, and host guided or open discussions around the video content you choose. Or you can just frame the video with an introduction and a conclusion. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it looks darned good for something that doesn’t cost a dime.
Microlearning is not going to replace long-form training—that’s not its purpose, any more than audio podcasts are meant to teach you how to tap dance. But microlearning is a powerful, flexible, useful tool that can reach audiences across the learning landscape, and deliver just-in-time training in a fun, sticky way.
327 Solutions leadership has been in Training and Development for over two decades working with Fortune 500 clients helping our customers reach their goals. We are The Agency for People and Talent Development Leadership™ supporting the Fortune 500 through placement, consulting and training.
To discuss how 327 Solutions can help you with Training and Development and Performance Consulting that align with microlearning needs, please feel free to schedule a call below or visit our website at www.327solutions.com
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