A Curator's Perspective into Microlearning
Why are micro-learning courses effective?
Like a 100m sprinter, micro-learning is a way of accelerating learning in small explosive bursts.
Our world races at breakneck speed. We rush to and fro, with the occasional breather before we rush to cross off another item on our to-do list. If we’re lucky, these breathers are just long enough to squeeze in some time for us to learn something new. Enter micro-learning.
In 10 minutes, eager learners want to brush up on their skills and knowledge. They want to learn something quick, something small, and above all, at their own pace. They want bite-sized information that is focused, easily absorbed, and available on demand, on any device. According to Gagne, Briggs & Wager⁽¹⁾, micro-learning is learner-centric as it delivers essential information in just a few minutes. The essence of the information is carefully distilled, and knowledge retention is made easier.
But, creating effective micro-learning is no easy feat. To be effective, the information that is required to close immediate knowledge gaps should be relevant and digestible, yet meaningful.
7 tips to create effective micro-learning
1. Know your learners
If you are going to hit your target, you must know what your target is! It is critical to identify and understand your target audience before you select a learning strategy. In today’s digital world, attention span is dwindling, and learners are often distracted so micro-learning needs to cut through the noise effectively to drive engagement.
2. Identify the learning objective precisely
Fewer is better so that your content hits hard and doesn’t detract from the focus. The cornerstone of your learning strategy is an effective micro-learning storyboard which should focus on only one objective per topic. This objective should be a level of competency, or behaviour or a skill, which the learners can expect to achieve by the end of the course. Ensure the objective results in observable behavioural change that is attainable by learners.
Content used in traditional courses cannot be used ‘as is’ in micro-learning courses. Micro-learning is only effective when you fundamentally change the nature of the content. Closing performance or knowledge gaps requires learners to be able to apply themselves as soon as possible. To do this, create opportunities for your learners to replicate a real-life example, where possible.
For example, a micro-learning course on, ‘How to Write a Winning Resume’ will be effective only if the learners can practice writing a resume in the course.
4. Must-know’ versus ‘nice-to-know’
The learning can be on the platform, but the application of the skill can be external to the device. Learning is only micro when the learning is less than 10 minutes long. Unlike traditional courses you do not have the luxury to gradually build-up your content. In micro-learning, precision is key – provide a short introduction then go straight to the main point.
As a micro-learning curator, it is essential to identify and differentiate between ‘must-know’ and ‘nice-to-know’ content. Focus on ‘must-know’ content and then provide links to ‘nice-to-know’ content so that learners can explore later in their free time. You have 10 minutes of their time – make it count!
5. Use real-world examples
Shortcut the learning process by referring your learners to real world experiences. Using scenarios, real world examples, and experiences not only helps learners relate to these examples, but also keep the learning relevant. Two things result from this: quicker learning, and longer retention.
Quick tip: Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate. Otherwise, the learner might become cognitively overloaded and the main objective of the course will be lost.
6. Use videos and infographics
Multimedia elements such as videos and infographics are a sure-fire way of ensuring knowledge retention. These are often the shortest ways of delivering your point and creating impactful micro-learning.
Videos are a great option pragmatically as learners can pause, rewind and play the video at their convenience.
Since visual information is a quick way to transmit information to the brain, use infographics as a shortcut by grabbing attention and highlighting key points of a topic that learners can quickly go through and keep in mind.
6. Use active voice and conversation tone
Always use active voice to make your micro-learning storyboards as effective as possible. The tone should be conversational as it helps the learners relate to it. You’re not here to replicate a lecture on the phone. You’re here to be their teacher in their pocket.Micro-learning storyboards should always have an active voice. The tone should be conversational as it helps the learners relate to it. You’re not here to replicate a lecture on the phone. You’re here to be their teacher in their pocket.
Micro-learning is indeed the future of learning. Modern learners are time-poor, attention-scarce, and information overloaded. Help them accelerate their learning by cutting through the noise and delivering bite-sized information for them to practice as soon as possible that result in observable behaviour change. To achieve this, micro-learning must be efficient and engaging. The content must be precise, leading to the rapid attainment of expected learning outcomes.
If learning is like a football match, then micro-learning is the penalty shoot-out.
Strike hard, strike fast. Make the 10 minutes count!
Know More. Grow More. Be More.
It takes less than 10 mins a day to learn a new skill!
⁽¹⁾ Gagné, R. M., Briggs, L. J., & Wager, W. W. (1992). Principles of instructional design (4th ed.). Forth Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.