Why TikTok-Style Learning?

Your people already use short-form video content to learn.

  • 92% of our survey respondents find short videos on social media an effective way to learn.
  • 83% of respondents already use social media to learn
  • 52% intentionally use it for this reason, and 31% say they unintentionally learn while using it
  • 89% of respondents would be more likely to engage with technical learning (e.g. Microsoft training) if supplied with short informal videos

    What is TikTok-Style Learning?

    TikTok-style learning refers to the adaptation of the short-form video format popularised by TikTok for educational purposes within corporate training contexts. Just as TikTok users consume bite-sized videos on various topics ranging from entertainment to education, organisations are now leveraging this format to deliver impactful training content to their employees.

    Today's learners crave content that is easily digestible and accessible on the go. Short videos offer a convenient and efficient way to deliver information, making learning more accessible and enjoyable for employees.

    By delivering content in short, focused bursts, it accommodates modern learners' shorter attention spans and preferences for on-demand, just-in-time learning experiences.

    What are we trying to solve?

    At Assemble You, we aim to transform learning engagement. Learning engagement refers to the level of active involvement and motivation displayed by learners during the learning process. It encompasses their participation, motivation, and dedication to learning, including their interest in the subject matter, their willingness to participate, and their efforts to comprehend and apply new knowledge or skills.

    TechMonitor suggests engagement rates with the average MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) are between 2 and 3%. A study by Warwick University, in the UK, found MOOC completion rates as low as 7%. A similar study conducted by ResearchGate found a 6% completion rate across eLearning platforms. That’s a 94% dropout rate. So the actual number of people starting and finishing training is perilously low - a course may be completed by potentially just 0.12% of a company’s employees.

    We have decades of experience in our team, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the number one reason for these terrible engagement rates: time. According to research from Josh Bersin, the average employee has around 1% of their working time to learn. With podcasts, we help people use existing time (think commuting, dog-walking, exercising, etc.), rather than asking them to find a 25th hour, or an 8th day, to embed training into their routines.

    However, some content doesn’t lend itself to the audio-only modality. That’s why we launched TikTok-style courses for technical skills training. We feel TikTok learning is a similarly powerful offering from an engagement point of view. We offer short, impactful videos that do what they say on the tin. We help people learn powerful things without signing up for a painfully long course. No long introductions, or useless modules. Just specific, relevant videos when you need them.

    Performance Support

    In 1991, Gloria Gery’s visionary work, Training vs Performance Support was released. The central tenet was that traditional organisational training approaches weren’t having the desired impact, and that we must make a shift:

    The outcomes of traditional training are simply inadequate. And inadequate is now (and probably always was) insufficient. We have the technological means to develop and implement alternatives, but in order to accomplish the results we need, our view must shift from training to learning and then to performance. The focus must shift from rigidly defined content and training program structure, created by an instructional designer, to truly individualised learning experiences created by the learner.

    The work’s biggest problem was that it was too ahead of its time. Indeed, it pre-dated the democratisation of the internet, which began on April 30th, 1993. However, Josh Bersin argues that the technological revolution has ushered in “a new paradigm - learning in the flow of work”. The way people prefer to learn now is at the point of need, or “just in time”. Many people don’t want a course anymore. That’s why just-in-time microlearning is so essential.

    For example:

    Financial Efficiency with Excel: Finance professionals can access just-in-time Excel resources for tasks like financial analysis, budgeting, data visualisation, advanced functions, and reporting. These resources empower users to streamline processes, make informed decisions, and stay compliant with regulatory changes in real time.

    IT Support: Instead of attending lengthy IT training sessions, help desk technicians can access quick tutorials or knowledge-base articles to troubleshoot common software or hardware issues encountered by users in real time.

    Cybersecurity: Rather than undergoing comprehensive cybersecurity courses, employees can receive timely updates and reminders about emerging threats, phishing scams, or best practices for data protection through just-in-time notifications or online resources.

    Quality Assurance: Quality assurance professionals can access microlearning modules to learn about new testing methodologies, tools, or techniques for ensuring product quality and compliance with industry standards.

    Data Analysis: Analysts needing to perform complex data analyses can benefit from quick guides or tutorials on advanced statistical methods, data visualisation tools, or programming languages like Python or R to enhance their analytical skills on the spot.

    Equipment Maintenance: Maintenance technicians tasked with troubleshooting equipment failures or performing routine maintenance tasks can access just-in-time training materials, such as step-by-step guides or instructional videos, to efficiently address maintenance issues and minimise downtime.

    Technical Sales: Sales engineers or technical sales representatives can access bite-sized resources on product specifications, technical specifications, or competitive analysis to support customer interactions and address technical inquiries during sales presentations or client meetings.

    Using TikTok-style videos - characterised by short portrait-format videos under 10 minutes - to train people in technical skills offers several benefits:

    Engagement: As mentioned, short videos are more engaging and capture viewers' attention quickly. By presenting technical content in a format similar to what users are accustomed to on social media platforms like TikTok, you can keep learners interested and motivated to consume the content.

    Accessibility: Many people prefer consuming content on their mobile devices, and portrait-format videos are optimised for viewing on smartphones. This accessibility allows learners to access training materials anytime, anywhere, making it convenient for them to engage with the content during breaks or downtime.

    Bite-sized Learning: Breaking down complex technical concepts into short, digestible segments makes learning more manageable and less overwhelming. Learners can focus on one specific skill or topic at a time, increasing their comprehension and retention of the material.

    Visual Learning: Technical skills often involve hands-on tasks or visual demonstrations. TikTok-style videos allow trainers to incorporate visual elements such as demonstrations, animations, and graphics to enhance understanding. Visual learning aids can clarify abstract concepts and make technical instructions more accessible to learners.

    Shareability: TikTok-style videos are highly shareable on social media platforms, facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration among learners. Employees can easily share helpful tutorials or tips with their colleagues, fostering a culture of continuous learning and knowledge exchange within the organisation.

    Cost-effectiveness: Producing short videos is often more cost-effective than creating lengthy training courses or workshops. With the prevalence of smartphones and user-friendly video editing tools, trainers can create and distribute high-quality training content with minimal resources.

    What can we learn from TikTok?

    Gen Z person on their phone

    Over 70% of Gen Z spend over three hours daily watching online videos. According to TikTok themselves, users spend an average of 89 minutes on the app daily. It’s become baked into the daily life of many, many working age people.In another study, it was reported that 25% of US TikTok users use the platform for educational purposes. That amount of learning far outstrips what people do in their LMS. Clearly, L&D has something to learn.But why does TikTok specifically work so well? 94% of the US population is aware of TikTok.

    The Algorithm

    It’s partly down to its excellent algorithm. TikTok's recommendation algorithm curates a diverse array of content, blending posts from creators you already follow with those from new discoveries. This unique mix, finely tailored to individual preferences, keeps the platform engaging and constantly refreshing, contributing to its addictive appeal.

    Length of Videos

    However, equally, or more importantly, TikToks can only be up to 10 minutes long. We know that short-form videos receive 2.5 times more engagement than long-form videos. It’s no different for e-learning video content - survey results show that no matter the length of the video, the median engagement time is at most six minutes. This is supported by TechSmith’s research, which found that the majority of viewers prefer instructional and informational videos in the ranges of 3-4 and 5-6 minutes. So, it seemed obvious to us that any video training we create should be around that sort of length.

    The Faces of Training

    In the United Kingdom (UK), about 84 percent of the residential online population follow influencers or content creators online. That’s why we put our creators front and centre. All of our Microsoft content is delivered by instructor and Microsoft MVP Deborah Ashby. Deborah is deeply passionate about the Microsoft community, which she and her (almost) 200,000 followers actively participate in. The continuity, combined with Deborah’s natural ability to motivate, keeps people coming back to learn more.

    Somebody watching a TikTok-style video on their mobile phone.

    But how do we make TikTok work for actual training?

    We embed training techniques into the experience. Employees who watched a video with a quiz scored higher than their colleagues who only watched the video and/or only talked about the video with others. That’s why we include multiple-choice questions on every topic.

    Why Technical Skills?

    Assemble You was created to provide learning in the flow of life. Too many people feel they can’t afford to spend time learning, and it’s hurting the skills economy. We wanted to help more people learn by providing content in a consumable format that they could fit around their lives - podcasts. But podcasts aren’t the right modality for every subject. You can’t teach Microsoft Excel, for example, without visuals. But we didn’t want to just add traditional courses to the pile. There are plenty of all-encompassing Excel courses that many of us start but almost nobody ever finishes.

    We wanted to create snackable training for people at the point of need. Got a meeting and want to know how to beautifully display data in Excel? We have a short video specifically for that. We work hard to make our content searchable by implementing our keyword research in all of our metadata creation.

    And in the same way, people get dopamine from enjoying TikTok videos, we wanted to remove barriers to completion. Everyone feels good when they finish something, so we want to give learners that feeling over and over, with a host of short videos, rather than expecting them to slog out a 20 or 30-hour course to get that feeling of achievement. 

    Key Engagement Metrics

    Various metrics and indicators used to assess learner engagement and interaction with e-learning content:

    Drop-off Rate

    Drop-off rate measures the percentage of learners who disengage or stop participating in a course before completion. This metric provides insights into where learners may be encountering challenges, losing interest, or failing to find value in the content.

    Completion Rate

    Completion rate measures the percentage of learners who successfully complete a course or module. A low completion rate may indicate issues with course design, content relevance, or learner engagement, similar to a high bounce rate in digital marketing.

    Time Spent

    Time spent measures the average amount of time learners spend engaging with course content. A particularly short average time spent per session may indicate that learners are not fully engaging with the material, are finding it uninteresting or difficult to understand, or are losing concentration quickly.

    Interactions and Engagement

    Interactions and engagement metrics track learner activity within the course, such as the number of quizzes completed, discussions participated in, or resources accessed. High levels of interaction and engagement suggest active participation and interest in the content.

    Progression Through Content

    Progression metrics track how learners move through the course content, including the number of lessons completed, modules accessed, or assessments passed. Analysing progression patterns can help identify areas where learners may be getting stuck or dropping off.

    Somebody watching a TikTok-style video on their mobile phone.

    Built to fit into the flow of life

    • Mobile-ready portrait videos
    • Expert-led
    • Solve common problems at the point of need
    • Hassle-free content for when you’re away from your desk