Microtraining, Microlearning, Microvideos-What Are They and Should You Start Developing Them?

They’re the new buzzwords of the last few years. And close friends have told me that all they have to do is mention they specialize in Microlearning and the heads of training Departments in major corporations will sit down for coffee with them and ask them to bid on projects. So, I thought it was about time that I’d do a little research of my own to see if it is actually something new or just the same old stuff repackaged with new names.

What are Micolearning, Microtraining and Microvideos?

Instructional developers have always known how to “chunk” content to create smaller topics within web based courses but Microlearning seems to be something a bit different. It seemed to have  gained traction in the last few years due to the  increased usage of mobile learning or mLearning.

But what actually constitute the “micro” of micro training microlearning and microvideos. According to my research…

Microtraining and Microlearning pertain specifically to chunks of learning that are much smaller than the norm.  Most websites peg their length from 30 seconds to about 5 minutes.

Microvideos can be training chunks or marketing style videos that are about the length of the average TV commercial which is 30-60 seconds long.

Wikipedia puts Microtraining at about 15-20 minutes. Which seems feasible if it is done live in a classroom but I don’t think that’s what the Internet is really excited about. It’s these small video chunks that stand on their own which seems to be the consensus among the web.

And the Techsmith site mentions that many microvideos don’t even contain narration. Maybe it’s just me but I like the ones that talk to me while I’m performing an activity so I don’t have to watch them the whole time.

And lastly, most of my research indicated that you can use Microlearning nuggets flexibly as stand-alone assets or as multiple micro-courses.

So, for my own definition and for the purposes of this blog (which specializes in video, of course), I hope you’ll accept this: Micro learning, Micro training and Micro-video content is shorter-than-normal video content created for the purpose of retaining attention and catering to the increasingly short attention spans of today’s consumers.

Who is doing Microtraining and Why?

It seems like just about everyone is getting into the small is beautiful idea and here’s why…

They’re Affordable and Faster to Develop

Organizations don’t need to spend a lot on Microlearning videos. Studies reveal that organizations end up bringing down the development cost by half and can develop them three times as quickly as regular courses. This short development cycle results in lesser expenditure and a quicker turnaround time for organizations.

They are Easier to Update

Because they are short, if a part of it needs updating you can fix just that one piece  and republish it and not have to update an entire course.

They Work in the Age of Mobile Learning

People want to be able to learn quickly wherever they are, which may often be out in the field. Microlearning is available at the time of need wherever they need to fit in a quick tutorial-even away from their normal place of work.

They’re Perfect in the Age of Limited Attention Spans

The chart below explains the drop off rate for videos of different lengths. It seems once you go over about 2-3 minutes people will start to disengage and tune out.

Short videos translate into faster completions, so if you’re tracking, you end up getting a lot better completion rates.

And many organizations are using microlearning to supplement their classroom trainings. The microvideos provide the reinforcement and retention they might have forgotten from the formal training. They help you negate the impact of the “forgetting curve” and offset the attention span challenge.

The top 3 features I most commonly found in my research for Microtraining are that they be

  1. Easy to internalize.
    They should be short enough for learners to consume them easily in one go.
  2. Available to learners precisely at the time of their need.
    The Microlearning experience should be such that it helps learners on the job at the moment of their need.
  3. Designed to enable learners to act and practice.
    They should be action-oriented and help learners practice what they’re learning.

Although I didn’t call it a Microvideo at the time, I grabbed an example of a Microvideo I created for a client that simply shows the viewer how to login to their CRM. This was created to supplement all day live training that was delivered to them weeks before a new software application was deployed. After checking my portfolio for the length of my average video, it seems I’ve been doing Microvideos all along and didn’t even know it!

What You Can Take Away

Microlearning is not just breaking down a 10-hour training into small pieces. Its bite-sized learning that gets learners to learn, act, and practice. It stands on it’s own and has a very narrow topic and goal.

While the concept of content chunking to create short trainings has been there for decades, microlearning is the flavor of the season because it’s available to learners exactly at the time of the learning need (just-in-time). Furthermore, its use of images, text, animation and video ensure better retention of the learning.

–It provides users with the flexibility to learn on any device, whenever they want to.

–It spares them the hassles of logging in to a Learning Management System to get the information they need and

–It provides them access to the learning material within their workflow.

Less time consuming Microlearning nuggets can be completed quickly and the learning, as a result, is more effective and beneficial for learners.

Please share with us any examples you have of Microlearning and Microvideos. We’d love to see how other people are using them in their workplace

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