How to Get Started with MicroLearning Videos

Step-by-Step. Bite-sized content. Chunked learning. These are some of the more common ways to describe microlearning videos.  As I explained in my first GovLoop article, this type of training can help improve retention by providing on-demand instruction when employees need it.

Implementing microlearning videos, like the Self-Help Online Tutorials (SHOTs) program I began at the IRS, requires the following key ingredients:

  • Screen capture software
  • Audio equipment and software
  • Management buy-in  and support
  • IT support, including a video server/video library

Let’s explore each of these in more detail.

Screen Capture Software

There are many screen recording software applications to choose from.  Finding the right one can be daunting.  The software that we use, Techsmith’s Camtasia, is #1 on eLearning brother’s top 10 screen recording list.

I’ve been using Camtasia for years, and am Camtasia certified.  I feel it is not only very user friendly compared to some eLearning software programs, but is also affordable in comparison. My SHOTs team offers virtual training on recording, editing, adding annotations/animations, and adding close captions (508 compliance). This helps our SHOTs videos maintain a consistent look and feel.

Audio Equipment & Software

A video is only as good as the audio. How many times have you viewed a video and turned it off because there was too much static, distortion, or echo, or the narrator was monotonous?  It doesn’t matter how interesting the video topic is, if the audio quality is poor, most people will quickly end it. Then they’ll usually end up asking someone else for help.

Here are some things to consider when preparing to record audio or narration:

  • USB condenser microphone (Top 10 Mics)
  • Pop filter – Helps soften hard plosive “P” and “T” sounds when speaking.
  • Sound box – I have used a cardboard box filled with a blanket and placed my mic inside.
  • Headphones – You want to hear any ticks or clicks, which a laptop speaker won’t do very well.

Once you have the hardware, next you’ll want audio editing software to help “clean” the audio recording even more. I always run my recordings through Adobe Audition’s noise reduction process and automated click remover.  I also silence my breath sounds, since no one wants to listen to Darth Vader when watching one of my videos.

Management Buy-In/Support

Now, you’re ready to take microlearning videos to the next step: Getting support from management.

Here’s the thing: You can either explain what microlearning videos are,  or better yet, you can show them. What worked well for me was creating videos on programs or applications that had an impact across the organization. Some of my first videos were on Skype for Business, time entry, travel, and equity and diversity. As the saying goes, seeing is believing. I am grateful that I had upper management’s buy-in early on.

IT Support

Video files can be very large. Ideally, you want to keep your video to three minutes or less, which generally works out to 6 to 10 MB each, which means quicker launching, smoother streaming and less burden on your network.

Keep in mind that a video server is much more than a SharePoint site or intranet site. Those sites are often not designed for video streaming, nor do they have sufficient bandwidth. Instead, you might want to look into an enterprise video content management (EVCM) system.  They provide a one-to-many delivery for on-demand video streaming.

Depending on the type of video server you acquire, you’ll want a way for your employees to easily find and view your videos.  Creating a custom SharePoint Search vertical can help people quickly find what they’re looking for, similar to YouTube.  If it takes too many mouse clicks to get to the content they need, people will often stop looking.

I started SHOTs seven years ago with a handful of videos and now have over 520 videos and trained over 30 people so far. Due to the high-quality audio and video production, the SHOTs videos took off almost organically, on their own.  As the demand grows, so does our production and training requests. And we’ve only just scratched the surface!

If you’d like to know more about our SHOTs program, please feel free to contact me, and I’ll be happy to set up a Zoom for Gov session to demonstrate our video library.

Interested in becoming a Featured Contributor? Email topics you’re interested in covering for GovLoop to [email protected] And to read more from our Winter 2021 Cohort, here is a full list of every Featured Contributor during this cohort.

Kelly Barrett has worked for the IRS for over 22 years, starting as a Data Entry Transcriber and worked his way up to a Human Resources Education and Knowledge Management Specialist. Kelly has over 12 years of training project management experience with expertise in eLearning course development and is a certified Instructional Designer (ISD) and Online Training Professional (COTP).

Seven years ago, Kelly began researching MicroLearning Videos and how they can increase retention of training, and using his Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting, he started a program called Self-Help Online Tutorials (SHOTs). He has since grown the program to an enterprise-wide initiative with over 500 SHOTs videos for all 80,000+ IRS employees to view, anytime they need to.

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