Microlearning video: what is it and why is it so powerful

Microlearning is a form of very specific distance learning modules. This learning can take several forms: video, audio, concise text, images, quizzes, or even games. When the learning content concerns theory, concise textual pieces of content are suitable, but the most popular format for showing technical manipulations is video, which combines visuals and sound.

The microlearning video is characterised by several criteria:

  • It is between 3 and 5 minutes long.
  • The learning is focused on a specific concept with clear objectives.
  • Content is accessible from anywhere, at any time, on any device.
  • The video contains organised and scripted sequences. 

Why microlearning is relevant for businesses

Microlearning lets employees develop their skills effectively, thanks to the immediate application of newly acquired skills. Learners are empowered, as they can train themselves independently: the course can therefore be customised to suit their needs. 

In addition to saving time, the microlearning format encourages retention: according to neuroscience research, our average concentration time is 20 minutes. Thanks to the “snacking” format of microlearning, learners retain information more easily, and the video can be used as a reminder if they have forgotten any of the information in the course. 

Walmart case study: Risk reduction through microlearningThanks to microlearning safety training, workplace accidents have been reduced by 54% in the US Walmart.

Microlearning videos are adapted to the pace of our times. It is “impossible for an employee to stay focused for more than 12 minutes on his work without being interrupted”, notes a survey by Le Figaro. Interruptions take many forms: emails, notifications, text messages… This fragmentation of working time makes it even more difficult to concentrate. Microlearning videos, which last no more than 5 minutes, are therefore ideal: with this short format, the risk of interruption and loss of concentration is minimised.

For businesses, this learning method also holds advantages. Compared to traditional training, microlearning videos are quicker and much less expensive to produce. There is no need to hire trainers, rent premises, or free up time in employees’ schedules. Updating training courses when a new need arises becomes easier with microlearning. Instead of modifying a complete training course, it is only necessary to add or remove a video. 

In this way, learning becomes accessible, enjoyable, useful and frequent.

Microlearning example in video
Microlearning video about microlearning

The characteristics of microlearning videos 

Just because a video lasts less than 5 minutes, it does not mean it is a microlearning video. We have analysed dozens of microlearning videos in various fields, and have identified the following ingredients: 

A clear, pedagogical and energetic presenter

There are two types of microlearning formats on the web. Motion design videos with animations and a voice-over narrator, or an on-screen presenter who explains the concept. Motion design video is great, but requires technical skills and takes longer to create. The easiest and quickest solution is to use a presenter. The presenter should be articulate and energetic so that the learner is more engaged in the training. 

A short format

The ideal length for a microlearning video is between 3 and 5 minutes. Beyond that, information retention decreases. If 5 minutes is not long enough to explain everything you want to know, you can divide the information into several concepts, make several videos of a few minutes each and create a programme with the videos displayed in succession. The learner can learn at his own pace!

A dynamic rhythm thanks to animations 

Video or image inserts, as well as animations, make the video more dynamic and professional. For example, text inserts of the notions to take away reinforce the learner’s understanding and retention. Gifs, or funny mini-videos, can even illustrate concepts being explained, when well chosen.

Who should create the piece of content?

Managers or HR teams are probably the best people to organise the flow of the microlearning program, but employees are the most qualified to share knowledge. By doing peer-to-peer delivery (employee training by employees), learner engagement is enhanced as the training is delivered by someone who is hierarchically at the same level.

The microlearning video process

The first step is to identify a need. In the first few seconds of the video, a quick presentation of the concepts to be explained lets the learner know whether the training will provide the answers to his questions. These explanations should then be presented in a very clear manner, with examples and even illustrations that will help the learner to assimilate concepts more easily. Ending the video with a short summary is useful to provide an initial reminder and increase retention. 

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