Microlearning: Fad or Fantastic?

Let’s face it, most all of us turn to Google to verify facts and learn something new.  Recently, I watched a video on how to convert my garage florescence tube fixtures for LED blubs.  Our ability to find what we need to learn on the Internet is ubiquitous; so much so that 70% of employees will turn to Google before their company learning files*. This format of learning has spawned the microlearning movement.  This fantastic trend is in line with what we know about adult learners. They are typically self-directed bringing their experiences to play when ready to learn or as they just need information.  Unless the adult learner is motivated by a designation, a degree, or the learning exercise is required, he or she expects the learning format to be entertaining and to the point.

Let’s agree on a general definition of microlearning.  Wikipedia?  Why not.  “Microlearning deals with relatively small learning units and short-term learning activities. Generally, the term “microlearning” refers to micro-perspectives in the context of learning, education and training. More frequently, the term is used in the domain of e-learning and related fields in the sense of a new paradigmatic perspective on learning processes in mediated environments.”

Key to these short bits of content is the presence of one objective.  If it is basic knowledge being conveyed it is preferable to start with an introduction and end with a conclusion.  When promoting skills the microlearning segment might cover one KPI (Key Performance Indicator).  What is the ideal length?  That depends on the content but I personally like the target of between five and ten minutes of material.  This might be a learning activity that involves a branched real life scenario where the learner is asked to make choices or it could be a video with interactivity to keep the learning active.  Or it might simply be a short video.  The quality of a microlearning activity is in the eye of the beholder. Here is my list of ten best practices (ADD) if you want to start by slicing up a recording;

  1. View the chunks of learning as separate activities
  2. Insert at least two Check on Learning exercises
  3. If you are editing a recorded lecture the video should cover only one topic
  4. Insert a branded title page and ending title page
  5. Pause the video during the check on learning
  6. Use the presenters outline or transcribed presentation.
  7. Silent text pages can drive home the objective
  8. End with a resources page that includes books
  9. Include an author or speakers’ bio page “

eLearning leaders at Allen Communications prefer you not slice and dice recorded presentations. There are plenty of good reasons not to require the learner to sit through the recording of the original presentation though.  Research shows that learners prefer and stay attentive for six-minute chunks.  The microlearning movement recognizes this fact and it is changing eLearning in positive directions.

Don’t miss out on this months webinar with Dan White from Filament Games at 11:30 CT on March 27th. He will explain how VR is making its way into the art of how content is displayed within the eLearning industry.