Is There an Optimal Length for Microlearning Videos? What Does the Research Tell Us?

As our clients know, the Intela Unified Continuous Learning System is driven by evidence. Before we add a new learning activity we need to have actual research evidence that the learning activity is effective.

Learning Subscriptions (microlearning) are our most popular type of learning activity, and videos and podcasts are the most popular forms of microlearning content. We know that best practices states that microlearning activities should be short, generally under five minutes. This is conventional wisdom, but is it true? Is there research evidence for it?

In one study (remember, this is only one study, though there are others) Philip Guo, an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Rochester, analyzed student engagement data from edX, one of the most popular MOOC platforms. The graph below shows what he discovered:

Video Engagement

As you can see, after six minutes, student engagement (defined as the length of time the students watched the video) dropped off precipitously. (Students who were taking the course for credit tended to engage for a bit longer.)  He found that for videos 12 minutes or longer, the average student engagement time was only three minutes.

So, in the interest of keeping you engaged, we will keep this blog post short and end with this key take-away: If you want to keep your learners engaged keep your microlearning lessons under six minutes, preferably even shorter. And if anyone asks you why, you can say “That’s what the evidence shows.”

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