We have seen a huge transformation in the behavior of learners in the last several years. They have become distracted, and their concentration has shrunk to its lowest. Studies have found that although modern learners look at their phones an average of 9 times in an hour, they are unlikely to finish a training video that is longer than 5 minutes. For this reason, it is not practical to expect learners to sit through hour-long training sessions. With this in mind, course design using a microlearning approach has proven to be highly effective as they usually have three to five minutes short videos or exercises for more focused and enhanced engagement.
Microlearning courses aimed at employee training will provide assistance to the learners through useful knowledge and long-term skills. The short learning bytes within microlearning courses increase knowledge retention and create smooth pathways for information and skill development, offering personal and professional growth. As e-learning components, they are available anywhere, anytime.
What is Microlearning?
Microlearning is a highly popular and in-demand e-learning trend. It offers learners short bursts of useful information instead of providing them with broad subject overviews. It is always designed with a specific outcome in mind and focuses on gaining performance and required or desired knowledge. The experience that microlearning delivers is mostly just three to five minutes long and could be in any format, such as mobile apps, interactive PDFs, whiteboard animations, videos, audio chunks, etc. It caters to the learning objectives that a learner sets out to achieve and boosts learner engagement.
Microlearning provides instant feedback and overcomes low attention spans. It also provides customized eLearning experiences and is always available on demand. You can create many microlearning courses as a part of a curriculum or module or design standalone courses. Employees may be reluctant, or just not have long blocks of time to engage in training and learning modules that are long and time-consuming. Even if they do so, deep thought and enthusiasm would likely be missing. Microlearning courses, however, have an efficient time frame and are equipped with modern education methods and technological components that ensure the learners connect with the material and get inspired.
The benefits of microlearning courses are plenty, but there are some basic approaches you may want to consider. Your content should effectively be able to close information gaps while being engaging enough to upkeep retention. The mediums you use should align with the interests of your target audience, and the knowledge you give out should be easily digestible and relevant. Here is how you can design microlearning courses that ensure enhanced engagement.
How to Design a Killer Microlearning Course
A smooth and engaging microlearning course requires an effective method of delivery. However, the content plays an equally important role if it is to attract and retain learners. The time, effort, and money you put into creating a course deserve a worthwhile return on investment. Whether you are designing an training module that contains several microlearning courses, or creating a standalone course that covers a specific topic, keeping the following in mind will help make it more effective.
Choosing a Topic and Conducting Research
Keep in mind that in each microlearning component of your course, you have to offer content that is outcome-driven and learner-focused. To do that, you have to choose a topic that is narrow and then further pare it down as much as you can. Some course creators choose a narrow topic and rush into it headfirst. You have to put yourself in the shoes of your learners to ensure that the content perfectly correlates to the learning requirements of your targets.
For every eLearning chunk, dissect the selected topic and narrow it down to the point where it reaches the optimal usefulness pertaining to a specific area of learning. What it does is that the learners perceive a high value of the training and offer enhanced engagement levels to the microlearning pieces. Another benefit is that the learners who do not need to learn specific areas within a topic can skip those components of your course, and the learners who want to gain a wide knowledge of the topic can do so by going through the whole course.
Keep ‘Who’ on Top of Your Mind
Never go about designing a microlearning course before determining who your target audience is. It should be a chief consideration as the very next step after refining your topic and sub-topics. Who are the people who are going to be accessing your course. You should ask yourself the following questions about your target learners:
What are the learning goals of your learners?
- What do they likely do not know or already know about the topic?
- Are they tech-savvy? If yes, how much?
- What are their work schedules like? Are they always on the go or have significant time on their hands?
- What is their career path?
- What is their educational background?
- What is their age range?
- What are their demographics?
Throughout the creation process, the answers to these questions should be on the top of your mind, and all decisions you make should adhere to them.
Determine the ‘Take Away’ of Your Course
Before you start formatting your lessons into the microlearning nuggets of your course, you have to determine the learning objectives. Identify the key and specific skills and pieces of knowledge that the learners will take away from the course. Again, if you are not to miss the mark for the needs of your trainees, you have to know who they are and what learning outcomes they are looking for exactly.
Suppose your microlearning course aims to train leadership of your organizations on how to effectively create the right corporate culture within their business environment. As the topic of corporate culture is inherently complex and multi-faceted, singling out which specific skills you want your learners to come away with can be difficult. Therefore, your offered content should be centered and focused on a singular learning outcome. The key to stay aligned with specific learning goals and avoid getting detoured or carried away from them is to employ action-oriented words. Here are examples of the routes you should and should not take:
- Well-Written Learning Outcome: Learners will be able to identify which type of corporate culture is best suited for their organization to increase productivity.
- Poorly-Written Learning Outcome: Learners will understand which type of corporate culture is best suited for their organization.
The two differences between the two examples are the use of the words ‘understand’ and ‘identify’ and the clarity and the preciseness of the learning objective. The word ‘understand’ cannot be assessed or measured and refers to an abstract process, while ‘identify’ is a measurable and concrete action.
On the other hand, the well-written learning outcome determines what purpose the identification of the best-suited corporate culture will serve while it is missing in the poorly-written outcome.
As microlearning courses are resources and tools for action-based and highly focused learning, high-quality and efficient learning objectives can help them to succeed.
Create and Divide Your Content
Once you determine your course’s learning outcomes, the curation process becomes a lot easier. You can start gathering and forming the talking points by brainstorming and fleshing out your ideas. You then need to divide your content down to their atomic states that will chunk it down into several sections. This is the same practice that we performed while choosing the topic for a course. When your content cannot be logically broken down any further, you can organize it into an outline of your courses.
If you are creating online courses as components of a learning curriculum, the learning objectives of your training module usually dictate how many scripts for your microlearning courses you need. If the module has five learning outcomes, you should have at least five courses that offer quick solutions and answers to specific problems or questions. If the training is about the basics of safety and health in a workplace, the series of microlearning courses can be:
- The working environment
- Hazards and risks
- Risk assessment
- Electricity and computers
- Fire and fire extinguishers
- Chemicals and other hazards
Use an Authoring Tool and LMS that Handles Desktop & Mobile
You can create a master layout for your course by using a professional authoring tool and delivering it in an LMS that handles desktop and mobile devices, and it will reframe your content according to the resolution and screen size of the tool it is being viewed on. Regardless of which device your learners are using, be it a desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet, they can access the course with ease while they are on the job or on the move. Some authoring tools also offer animations, simulations, and visual reality that you can use to make your content interactive and interesting.
Employ Videos for Targeting a Wide Range of Needs
Videos are beneficial for both auditory and visual learners and effective tools for exploring a topic and learning the steps for a particular task. Learners can forward, pause, and rewind the videos to have control over the information and grasp it effectively, and you can add captions or subtitles to make them useful for hearing-impaired trainees. Of course, keep the videos less than 5 minutes.
As mentioned earlier, microlearning courses are three to five minutes in length. Repetition can be useful in some eLearning techniques, but it is not for microlearning methods. You need to make those 3 to 5 minutes as informative as possible, and there is no room for filler content or repetition. If the learners need to repeat some information, they can revisit it, but if they have understood something on the first go and it gets repeated, it will lead to a lower engagement.
Deploy Visually Rich Content
Your content should be immersive, interesting, and visually pleasing for it to stand out and catch and retain the learners. Fortunately, digital media is there to help you in this regard. You can utilize statistics, trends, highlights, images, and infographics to make your course a visual treat. These tools also allow you to fit in more useful information in less time.
Equip Your Content With ‘Learning by Doing’ Components
We know that videos, audio, and other interactive components should be a part of eLearning courses to make them engaging. However, these ingredients are not enough for a microlearning course. The learners should be involved in the learning process and apply their learning for effectiveness and engagement. Stunning graphics and animations do wonders to enhance the engagement of your courses.
Use the Power of Storytelling
To draw in the audience and take them on a journey, you need to make your content emotionally compelling, and nothing does the job better than storytelling. A well-told and interesting story can efficiently highlight the benefits and features of services and products and mark milestones. They can be real-life or made-up examples that contain practical applications of a subject matter. You can add relevant graphics, images, narration, or background music to make the stories even more compelling and engaging. The knowledge delivered in this way is easier to understand and remember, providing the learners with more utility out of your course.
Keep the Tone Conversational and Personal
To make your eLearning courses effective and engaging, always converse in an active voice and in an informal manner. It is very important to touch the learners at a personal level for them to connect and relate with the content. Avoiding narratives help keep the conversation focused, simple, clear, and easy to understand.
eLearning has been evolving ever since its inception. The popularity and the pace at which microlearning courses are gaining ground signal that they are the future of eLearning. There is a high level of competition in the field, and it is vital to stand out and be more compelling than others to catch the eyes of learners. The attention spans of people nowadays are limited, and they are hard-pressed for time. Therefore, assimilation and consumption of bite-sized content is their preferred choice for learning and training. However, if the content of your microlearning courses is not compelling, it will not incite engagement.