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Microlearning Videos: Key Benefits and Employee Testimonials

We live in an incredible age where we have a wealth of information at our fingertips. When I present on microlearning videos, I ask where people go to learn something new outside of work. The answers are almost always Google, YouTube and sometimes, “my kids.”

Just the other day, my daughter was confused doing her makeup homework on ratios since she’d missed a few days from school. A few hours later I asked how her homework was coming and she said she completed it. When I asked how, she simply replied that she Googled it and watched a video on how ratios work.

As I mentioned in my first GovLoop article, much of the training we take at work may be TMI (too much information). This can cause cognitive overload and severely diminishes learning. For example, do you feel a cold chill come over you when you see “slide 7 of 62,” as I do?

Let’s explore why your agency or organization should make microlearning videos the standard for training.

Just-in-Time Learning

If students aren’t interested or enthused about a course, their attention quickly fades. They then may be easily distracted by texts, instant messages or emails. Also, if the content is too overly complex, students may feel lost, bringing learning to a screeching halt.

People click on YouTube videos because they want to know how to do something quickly. For instance, I recently bought new locks for my home. However, each lock had a different key and I only wanted to use a single key for them. Instead of paying someone to re-key them, I watched a few videos on YouTube and literally taught myself how to re-key all my new locks. (And I only destroyed one deadbolt in the process.)

Similarly, our employees launch the Self-Help Online Tutorials (SHOTs) videos because they help provide an immediate answer to their question or issue.

One employee recently shared their feedback on SHOTs stating, “When all training travel was cancelled due to the pandemic, we had to convert our training for virtual delivery using Skype. I had only used Skype for meetings and conversations so I watched the SHOTs videos on Skype to learn how to manage content, like uploading and sharing PowerPoints and using the whiteboard to enhance interaction with the class participants. The SHOTs provide exactly the information I need, without excess filler information that I don’t.

Videos Fit Everyone

According to Dr. Ruth Clark, learning styles are largely a myth.

“Self-study asynchronous e-learning has the potential to customize learning to the unique needs of each learner. By unique needs, we don’t mean learning styles — a myth still popular among training practitioners in spite of a lack of evidence to support it.”

Microlearning videos take the benefits of self-study e-learning and enhance them by breaking them down into bite-sized digestible chunks of information. Not only are they quick to view, but we organize them into categories and they are searchable in our Knowledge Management video library.

According to a 2015 article from Grovo, millennials make up over 75% of the incoming workforce. “Microlearning’s bite-size learning modules meet the modern learner’s desire for searchable information,” it said. I’ve found that our employees want to have the ability to search for and view videos on work-related topics on demand.

Another employee recently shared with me, “SHOTs have become part of my education. Every time I need to learn something new, my first thought is if there is a SHOTs on it. I recently viewed them to learn about using the retirement platform, among many other topics. SHOTs have truly become part of my problem solving and learning experience.


Because our SHOTs videos are typically 3 minutes or less, they can be shared or viewed in many ways, such as:

  • Embedded in formal training courses, job aids, electronic manuals or websites
  • Assigned for new hire orientation
  • Organized into knowledge management video libraries
  • Advertised through internal communications
  • Sent as previews prior to team or group discussions, etc.

We recently created a listing of over 50 SHOTs videos specifically for new employees on topics like inputting your time, using our paycheck services, using Zoom for Government, teleworking or alternative work schedule policies, and many more.

A newly hired employee shared with me, “As a new employee to IRS I found the SHOTS videos were instrumental and important to me in helping navigate and learn more about the organization and the various programs. I have been able to use the SHOTs to answer many questions I had as a new employee on different processes and systems.

Time Savings

Research shows the majority of learning happens at your desk, based on the 70-20-10 model. This model explains that hands-on experience makes up for 70% of learning, asking others for help makes up 20%, and only 10% comes from formal training.  And yet we spend the bulk of our time and money on that 10%.

However, many times employees new to any job will naturally have questions depending on the complexity of their work.  Typically, they’ll reach out to their co-workers, friends, neighbors, on-the-job-instructor (OJI) or manager for assistance.  With a group of newly hired employees, these questions are multiplied. Then those who are asked for help must stop what they are doing to answer their questions, resulting in a drop in productivity.

Instead, having a library of microlearning videos allows employees to find answers on their own. This not only saves other employees’ time, but it helps people find their own answers quickly. Also, employee engagement increases by launching a video because it solves a need or answers an immediate question.

Not only are the SHOTs videos short, but the amount of time to develop them is also far quicker than creating formal e-learning, virtual or classroom training. Our development timeframe is usually a few weeks per video, after getting the approved storyboards from our customers.

According to one of our education specialists, “SHOTs provides many organizational benefits. They help reduce errors in the workplace, intrinsically raise the overall skill levels in the organization, offer better control of student investment of time to gain access to knowledge, empower employees in performing tasks on the job, help develop a day-to-day learning culture and provide greater ROI because of the smaller investment in time and resources to create, edit and view a SHOT video.

Additional Testimonials

Microlearning videos offer many more benefits than I’ve laid out here, but don’t take my word for it. I started SHOTs to help employees increase their quality, efficiency, and find answers when they need them. Here are a few more employee testimonials:

  • SHOTs give you the specific information you are seeking, and they really do answer questions and solve problems on specific parts of an issue you may have. I have had numerous employees tell me of the time savers they are especially for something you don’t do every day to retain the knowledge on how to do certain tasks.
  • I always check SHOTs first before wading through other materials on our intranet that are hard to find and, even if I find what I’m looking for, it’s usually a 20-page document that contains lots of extra information. SHOTs are the resource I go to first.
  • I think the SHOTs are an excellent way to save time and effort. They are much easier to use than job aids.  You can watch the videos while you are taking the action, hit pause, take the action, hit play, then continue to watch the video.
  • I have referred many customers to the SHOTs site when needing quick training on a particular topic. I review these SHOTs often to refresh my memory. SHOTs are my first stop and where I send customers who don’t have a lot of time. They are an invaluable resource.
  • SHOTs provides us flexibility in developing e-learning courses and increases employee engagement. We can reference the training to SHOTs videos hosted ‘outside’ formal training that employees can reference quickly and easily after the training is complete and they need a memory refresher to perform a specific task or procedure. When procedures or systems change, we can then change the SHOT without having to revise an entire course. Saves development time, reduces downtime and provides just-in-time training.

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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