Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Micro-videos; What are they? How to make them sticky? How to deliver? Good interface? How to make them?

What are they?

Micro-videos are short videos. How short? Often very short, 15 seconds on TIKTOK, Twitter at 2 mins max, up to 6 minutes or so at most. There is no absolute rule here but the research suggests that people duck out from learning video at around 6 minutes. The idea is to be short, to avoid cognitive overload, be hard-hitting, increase retention and deliver relevant learning. The learning world has picked up on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. It’s not hard to find good examples.

How to make ‘em stick?

You can try too hard here, with too much animation, sound effects and noise. This is learning. Learning is not a circus and we are not clowns. It is important to match the style to the content. Drama works for behavioural and attitudinal shift. In fact video’s primary strength is in motivation, attitudes and behaviour. It is not so hot on knowledge, and conceptual learning. The transience effect means you quickly forget detail on video, like a shooting star your 20 second attention span means the knowledge burns up behind you, and you forget. Think back to the last three series Box-set you watched. How much do you really remember? But you walk away with the ‘gist’ of things – impressions. Think of a micro-video, not as the primary learning event but the trigger or catalyst for further learning.

Some tricks to make ‘em stick? Here’s six starters…

Surprise with a question, counterintuitive point or dramatic statement. First impressions matter… don’t do a learning objective!

Take it slow. Learning needs attention and the mind needs time to digest ideas. Play it a little slower than they do in the movies.

Summarise at the end. Learning is a process and not an event so summarise points at the end.

Calls to action. Make them go off and DO something, then report back on what they did and what they found easy and difficult.

Leave them hanging… that’s what a good video TV series will do… want you to come back for more…

Follow up with some active learning using the narration from the video. We do this with WildFire, where AI creates the content.

In a sense, video is rarely ever enough. It needs to be supplemented by more active learning. It tends to give the illusion of learning.

How do you deliver them?

Most people will have a LMS/VLE. But this may be the most unsatisfactory method of delivery, as they are largely repositories, not designed for sophisticated delivery. That’s where an LXP (Learning eXperience Platform) scores better, where you can pull and push micro-videos to and from learners in the workflow. Learning I a process not an event. Emails can be just as powerful. I’ve seen some great examples of 90 second videos delivered by email, which is still a popular and powerful communications tool in organisations. Remember also, that YouTube and Vimeo are literally learning platforms, with tools for privacy, editing and transcription. Use them. You may also want to consider analytics. YouTube and Vimeo work, as will your LMS or LXP. Just decide what data you want up front and what you want to do with it. Dashboards don’t make decisions, you do.

What’s a good interface?

An interface that has emerged as dominant is the Netflix, YouTube, Vimeo, Prime interface, with its tiles, horizontal scrolling for more, vertical scrolling for themes, along with search, maybe a 'playlist' or 'what’s new'. This makes great use of limited screen real estate and, above all, is now familiar to almost everyone on the planet. Never underestimate the power of search, especially deep search, into the narration and detailed content of videos. Mobile’s different. Instagram and TikTok are the masters there.

How do you make them?

Take your smartphone and record. It’s really that simple. You can also record in Powerpoint with those slide images. For more complex stuff there’s tools like Vyond, Powtoon, Vlognow, Adobe Animate, Articulate replay, Storyblocks – a ton of them. Although I’m not a great fan of animated, cartoony stuff. I often think it would be better in a single image, like an infographic. There’s Captivate and other similar tools for capturing ‘how to’ software tasks. Remember some simple rules about framing. It’s all in the eyes, so go for close-ups in learning. If you’re showing how to do something, shoot first-person not third person i.e. put the learner in the shoes of the doer.


Micro-videos are coming of age, the result of their popularity on consumer devices, platforms and social media. But remember that learning is not entertainment. Learning micro-videos need to be made with learning in mind. If it’s edutainment you want, beware of too much ‘tainment' and not enough ‘edu’. That’s the big mistake. For a much deeper look at the research on video for learning click here.

No comments: