Using Microlearning Videos as a Knowledge Management Tool

Every year, retirements seem to be increasing. I’m sure many of you had coworkers, friends or family members who have retired in the past few years. My own manager retired a few months ago, and it was a huge loss to our team and me.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), “Federal agencies also face the potential for a large number of retirements in the next decade as the proportion of employees who are currently eligible to retire is projected to increase from 18.2% in 2018 to almost one-third of all employees by 2022.”

As with my manager’s retirement, a lot of knowledge, experience and expertise is quickly walking out the door. This is creating a critical need to capture and transfer that knowledge to the next generation of employees.

The American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) suggests following seven steps during the Knowledge Flow process. Microlearning videos, such as my Self-Help Online Tutorials (SHOTs), can accomplish many of these steps. Allow me to explain.

Step 1 – Creating Knowledge

Employees create knowledge when they find a solution to a work challenge or solve a customer issue. Brainstorming sessions are also good opportunities to create knowledge. The important part of this step is realizing when knowledge has been created.

Step 2 – Identifying Knowledge

With our retiring workforce, it’s important to identify these employees to capture their knowledge. This also applies to employees who may be leaving for a new job, either internally or externally. This can be accomplished through Knowledge Mapping.

Step 3 – Collecting Knowledge

It’s important for employees to capture their knowledge by writing it down. One way of doing this is by working with subject matter experts (SMEs) to storyboard their knowledge for our SHOTs videos. This not only accomplishes the purposes of training but also naturally captures knowledge at the same time. As more videos are created, more knowledge is captured.

Step 4 – Reviewing Knowledge

Reviewing the content is an important step in ensuring that the information being captured is accurate. This also helps prevent the “this is how we’ve always done it” mentality. If there’s a new or improved way of doing something, this step can help identify it. Also, processes, policies or programs may change at any time. Performing a regular review of captured knowledge helps keep it current.

Step 5 – Sharing Knowledge

Creating a communication plan and incorporating the SHOTs videos or other Knowledge Management (KM) tools into formal trainings and other outreach events can help accomplish this step. If employees aren’t aware that these KM tools exist, they’ll never be able to view them or learn from them.

Step 6 – Accessing Knowledge

Over six years ago, the IRS realized the importance of KM and developed several KM tools and resources to provide access in a centralized location. This includes:

  • SHOTs Video Library with over 540 videos that are 3 minutes or less.
  • Virtual Library that helps employees to locate the knowledge and information needed to perform their jobs. Content is organized by topic and presented in a wiki format to help find answers to various questions.
  • Knowledge Capture provides a comprehensive, priority-driven approach to capturing SME knowledge or processes that align to an identified need of an organization. It also offers the ability to create and store Standard Operating Practices (SOPs), Knowledge Sharing Guides (KSGs) and Lessons Learned documentation.
  • Communities of Practice (CoP) where a group of people who share a similar interest in a subject area can learn from each other to improve the way they perform or practice that subject.

Step 7 – Using Knowledge

Viewing microlearning videos and applying that knowledge at the time it is needed is an effective way to complete the Knowledge Flow process. Employees can also search our other KM tools and resources to find a solution to their issue from those who may have already experienced that problem before. Doing so can help reduce errors, improve quality or help increase work efficiencies.

I welcome you to contact me for more information on the SHOTs program that I started at the IRS. Also, please leave a comment if you found this article informative, as I truly believe that microlearning videos are a new way to capture and transfer knowledge.

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Kelly Barrett has worked for the IRS for over 22 years, starting as a Data Entry Transcriber and working 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 enterprisewide initiative with over 500 SHOTs videos for all 80,000+ IRS employees to view, anytime they need to.

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

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