3 Ways to Use Microlearning Effectively in Online Training

Joshua Thayer
Feb 9, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Time is a precious resource in our black mirror world. For better or worse, our social and cultural development has shaped how we’re willing to spend it. The experiences we expect, how we consume new information, and the way we distribute content have all shifted. We want it all to suit our world on the go—a world where infinite information is available at the swipe of a finger, tap of a keyboard.

Naturally, the online learning space is not exempt. Learners expect fast and impactful experiences that take their cues from the mediums and avenues they’ve grown accustomed to. Those reference points are, of course, the social networks, streaming sites, and video games they consume every day. To capture even a sliver of their attention requires bite-size content that suits their lifestyle.  

And that’s where microlearning comes in.

Microlearning refers to short, focused content intended to satisfy very specific learning outcomes. By design, this area of learning content often asks for only a few minutes from a learner. As a result, microlearning is more likely to find a place in the scrolling and poking habits of modern audiences. What’s especially powerful is the flexibility of microlearning applications. Formal training in updated microlearning formats is a natural fit, of course. But it can also be a powerful way to deliver informal training—often to a wider audience focused on a specific skill.

For some great examples of microlearning, check out eLearning Industry's “5 Killer Examples: How To Use Microlearning-Based Training Effectively." 

To inspire your planning, here are three ideas for incorporating microlearning into your offerings.

1) Use microlearning for periodic quick wins in longer courses

Within larger learning experiences, it may be powerful to include occasional micro-content pieces along the way. This can be effective for offering a series of periodic "quick wins" for learners, helping to break up a particularly dense or heady topic. In that way, the learner can bite off small morsels along their way to the full nine-course meal. With that little pleasant taste, they’ll feel like they’ve achieved forward momentum towards their greater goal. Which, of course, pushes them to keep moving forward.

2) Offer microlearning as add-ons or samples

For folks that don’t have the time or budget to invest in a full course, you could offer microlearning "on-the-side" of regular courses and training. As either add-ons or free standalone items, they can serve as a teaser for more. If you pair these with a form for capturing their information, you can also begin to build a database of engaged prospects. From there, you can create marketing activities in the future to nurture them towards your larger (and pricier) offerings.

3) Package microlearning into an accelerated learning path

Once you’ve created a variety of microlearning around a particular topic, it’s time to package those up. With this approach, consider creating an accelerated, starter, or overview version of a larger course. This creates a shallower and shorter learning path for folks with limited time, money, or attention span. And, who knows, you may even expand to an audience you’re not already serving.

When you’re getting started with microlearning, it’s crucial to strategize. Plan for how it can be most useful for your audience and how to package it effectively. Knowing your audience is key, of course. Microlearning appeals to modern learners because it takes less time to consume and is more easily available when needed. In service to those qualities, micro-content is often delivered as rich media and should always be mobile-friendly—for greater retention and higher engagement.

The Big Idea in all of this is to create content that helps your audience quickly learn and apply that new learning to their busy life. Experiencing quick wins will reinforce their new skills—and cement the value of your role in their success.

Photo by Joe Leahy on Unsplash 

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