Microlearning: What Is It Not?
Many feel Microlearning is chunking large volumes of content to shorter pieces, while some opine that Microlearning is 5 minutes of video. Are these really Microlearning or is there more to Microlearning than what meets the eye? In this blog, I will share my understanding of what is not Microlearning and what makes for good Microlearning.
Fallacy Number 1: Attention Spans
Let us get the obvious stuff away, many feel that Microlearning is about catering to those people who have limited attention span.
We all know and have seen people playing games for hours, chatting on mobile, watching sport and entertainment shows without batting an eyelid. So, where did the fallacy originate?
It was rooted in the boring eLearning that was handed down to employees for ages. The notion of limited attention span stems from the fact that employees are bored or have not much time for learning, which as it stands is an absolute fallacy.
People pay attention only when the stuff presented to them is interesting. Whether it is an hour-long course or a 5-minute Microlearning nugget, interest is crucial.
So Microlearning is NOT about attention spans.
Fallacy Number 2: Chunking Large content
Microlearning is about having smaller bites of a larger piece of content. Nothing can be farther from the truth in my experience.
Recently, a requirement came to us to divide large content into 30 to 40 Microlearning nuggets. Immediately my intuition said, is it even correct to go ahead with this requirement? As a learning professional, I felt I should share my reservations immediately with the prospect. The simple reason being dividing large content into smaller pieces is not Microlearning but creating smaller learning nuggets which will be incomplete in all respects.
Let me explain. When we divide large content into smaller pieces, we are trying to fit in content to a smaller duration assuming that this smaller piece will be able to help the learner understand the subject. What if the subject is about some history or a technical aspect of a motor? Can anybody learn the stuff in five minutes? It’s not possible.
So, what exactly is Microlearning?
In one of my previous blogs ‘Make Your Microlearning Interventions Work To Achieve Your Training Goals‘, I mentioned the following:
My understanding is that Microlearning must incorporate as many of the following guidelines as possible to be truly “micro” in learning:
- A standalone piece of content
- Focus on specific learning outcome
- Uses rich multimedia, game-based strategy, and other approaches to engage the learners
Microlearning is not about chunking large pieces of content but designing a standalone piece of content that can be administered to learners for a holistic learning experience.
The content needs to be self-contained with only one properly defined learning objective. The duration can be anywhere between 2-10 minutes and we should not be hung up about attention spans as mentioned previously. There can be one or multiple such standalone pieces of content that can be plugged and played. The idea is to have content that is designed creatively and delivered effectively.
Some Microlearning courses can be designed as Mobile-First only so that learners can take the content anywhere anytime at their comfort without having the stress to get things done only at a specified time or location. When learners can access content that is secure even when they are off-premises, and if their activity can be tracked, you will achieve multiple objectives.
Having seen what is Microlearning and what it is not, now, let’s look at some case studies.
1. A Microlearning course on Food Processing
The customer wanted to train their employees on various aspects of food processing from sourcing of the food to delivery of the packaged products. The main game that we created had a lot of interactivity. However, the customer also wanted Microlearning to be built on the key concepts that could be taken by learners when they are travelling. For the Microlearning delivery, we focused only on the types of meat that are allowed to be processed and gamified it with scoring and badges.
2. Microlearning course on Goal Setting
In this course, we focused only on the SMART goals concept. This is a standalone piece of content and can be easily understood by anyone who takes the course.
This course is also available on our Microlearning platform KREDO.
I am a Learning Professional with 15+ years of experience in strategizing and providing learning solutions for varied customer requirements. I work with several global customers in understanding their business challenges and proposing optimal learning solutions that are backed by apt...