Microlearning: Hyper-Relevant Training in the Blink of an Eye

man-intensely-working-at-desk_600x400_aEvery few weeks, a new mobile app or website comes out to “revolutionize” some aspect of our daily lives. For those of us less concerned with technology’s effect on pop culture and more concerned with getting work done, it’s sometimes hard to see through the shroud of hype and media attention these applications engender. Nevertheless, when taken together, SMS text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, and a host of other apps, have fundamentally altered the way we consume media and communicate with one another.

As individuals walk into their places of work and don the role of “employee,” they remain the same people that they are on the outside, with many of the same expectations about media and communications.

While corporate learning and development organizations have been slow to adapt to changing trends in media over the past decade, today, leaders in the field have increasingly recognized the need to match their lesson materials with the way employees consume media in their personal lives. By creating a library of short-form online video, known as microtraining, training professionals can provide their employees with content that is hyper-relevant to the work at hand and at a fraction of the cost of classroom or workshop based training.

Your employees hate classroom training and you’re spending a fortune on it

In-person, classroom-based training has long been the stand-by delivery method of the corporate world. And when companies use it as the primary way to deliver professional development, it can break the bank.

Whether organizations choose to gather groups of employees in a single location or deploy training at multiple offices around the world, the expense associated with corporate training is enormous. Even early attempts at distance, “face-to-face” learning incurred huge cost as companies rushed to build or modify classrooms with specialized, two-way audio-visual equipment.

And yet, even when executed brilliantly, classroom based training still doesn’t scale. Even if trainings can be developed once and repeated multiple times, the trainers themselves must still be present for each and every session simply for the purposes of repeating the same information time and time again.

Beyond the cost to the organization to develop and deliver classroom trainings, employees must make a personal and professional time investment, putting their responsibilities on hold for hours or days to complete the training. Such interruptions are distracting at best and, at worst, present major obstacles to productivity.

Today’s workers are increasingly asked to leave patterns of deep focus behind in favor of the hyper focus that today’s high-speed business world demands. Employees must absorb and respond to dozens or hundreds of stimuli throughout the workday. In this environment, it’s little surprise that more and more employees have short attention spans and low tolerances for boredom. Emerging research has coined the 90/20/8 rule, positing that employee attention is greatest within the first eight minutes, wanes after 20 minutes, and is virtually non-existent after 90. Where does that leave employees stuck in an all day training?

For companies that rely on their training departments to produce critical training materials for their employees, the most frustrating part of traditional learning might be how low retention actually is. Today, employees can recall less than 20% of the material learned in a training within a period of just one month. By one year, that number drops to 10%.

With the costs, low retention, and time requirements of traditional classroom training, more and more companies are shifting their strategy to embrace microlearning based on “bite-sized” information that can be consumed at the moment when it’s most needed.

Bite-sized learning respects the way your employees want to learn

Recognizing the challenges presented by traditional classroom-based training, microlearning seeks to realign corporate training with the way that employees want to learn, in order to increase engagement and retention while slashing costs.

With the commoditization of video cameras and recording software, and the emergence of video content management systems (video CMS), corporate learning and development teams have the tools that can make microlearning a reality for their employees.

The basics of microlearning are simple:

Record a focused microtraining video

One of the reasons microtraining is so easy to get started with, and the reason it’s easy for employees to consume, is that most micro-lessons focus on one or two key topics, presented within the span of just a few minutes. While it may be tempting, video need not be professionally produced. Remember that most learners are now more than familiar with the simplicity and authenticity of smartphone video. Using a webcam, screen capture, and a slide presentation is typically enough to get started.

Test training effectiveness with knowledge checks and learner submissions

Many trainers considering a move to video-based learning are concerned that employees will simply fast forward through recordings or have them on mute as they complete other tasks at their desks. But a simple knowledge check can help ensure that employees have mastered the content. Quizzes, powered by online web forms, offer a quick and easy way to do this. Alternatively, learners can submit qualitative responses to the information presented, either by writing their response or even by recording their own video responses from the webcams at their desks.

Make training content available on-demand through an online portal

Some microlearning will be mandated, like those explaining corporate policies and procedures, which is where the format will help make the information more palatable and increase retention, all while making it more scalable for the training staff. Where microlearning really shines, however, is in the creation of just-in-time information that is relevant to employee’s current responsibilities.

Creating a searchable, central repository — sometimes known as a corporate YouTube — for all training materials will ensure that employees can always find the materials they need, when they need them most. Instead of interrupting their work, microtraining can actually help employees get the information to overcome challenges and complete their assignments.

On-demand content not only solves the problem of relevance and employee engagement, it also reduces the impact of poor memory retention. When content is only a few minutes long and available on-demand, there’s no risk of employees forgetting what’s in the training material; they can simply watch it again.

Advertise the content through enterprise social networks

While many employees will take the initiative to explore your library of on-demand training content, it’s also a good idea to advertise these materials, in much the same way that news and entertainment outlets advertise their content on popular social networks. By sharing content through an enterprise social network, like Yammer or Jive, training organizations are able to build an ambient awareness about materials and resources that are available to their employees.

Enterprise video platforms provide an end-to-end solution for creating a  microlearning library in a secure corporate environment

Today, microlearning videos are easier to produce and share than ever before. Leveraging webcams and software-based video solutions, training departments can easily get a jump on producing training content than employees want to engage with and achieve departmental performance metrics.

Unfortunately, most corporate portals (e.g. SharePoint) and learning management systems don’t natively support video. Handling large file sizes and delivering video in formats suitable for playback on every device present its own challenges.

Today’s video content management systems (video CMS) pick up where the corporate learning management system (LMS) leaves off with solutions for recording, editing, and sharing live and on-demand video within a single platform.

The Panopto video platform was build with training and microlearning in mind. Our software-based recording solution makes it simple for L&D professionals to record micro-lessons from almost anywhere, whether at their desk, from their smartphone, or leveraging high-end audio-visual equipment already installed in a corporate classroom.

Panopto’s video CMS is also built so that you can add video to all of your organization’s training initiatives. With industry-leading search capabilities, employees can find and reference any of your training materials by automatically searching every spoken word in your video library, in addition to any text that appears in the video.

To learn more about how to leverage microlearning with video in your organization, contact a member of the Panopto team to schedule a demo or request a free trial.

Published: July 02, 2015