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Theory to Practice: Actionable MicroLearning Tips

Micro Learning is a hot trend in eLearning design. We all know this. To get up to speed on the theory behind microlearning check out the resources at the end of the blog post.

In the rest of this post, we are focusing specifically on calls to action. That is, how do you actually apply the principles of Micro Learning to your eLearning design? You will be prepared to start thinking micro and create effective learning experiences. 

Take into consideration these valuable implementation tips: 

1) Branching Logic 

People have limited time to engage with content. Also, everyone starts at a different level with each concept. Branching logic as a simplified form of personalized learning allows every eLearning designer to create differentiated learning regardless of the resources at their disposal.

What branching logic does is shows one topic if the learner chooses one answer and another topic if a different answer is chosen. This maximizes the short time that the learner has to devote to learning. To get practice use a survey creator and see what happens when you apply branching logic to a survey.

2) Ensure Mobile-Friendliness

Micro Learning undoubtedly means that learners will be engaging with content on any device, anywhere they are. Whether you use an authoring tool or just a course management system, make sure the settings or features you are using will work well on a mobile device.

Note: Always test the content on multiple devices. The content may be micro for the learner, but that does not excuse the designer from conducting multiple tests on the design. 

Also read: Start Thinking of MicroLearning Moments Now

3) Pick the Big Idea

With Micro Learning, you have about 5-10 minutes to make an impact on the learner in a way that is transferrable and can lead to demonstrable changes in behavior. That is a tall task! Whereas in traditional eLearning design, you might have picked 3-4 big ideas to cover in a module, in Micro Learning you need to stick to ONE idea. Use this idea to guide all of the decisions you make with regards to learners and what is important for them to experience in the course. 

4) Use Visuals to Convey Meaning

It takes time to read a text, and most of us are not very good at skimming for important parts. Visuals can be a very effective way to direct the learner’s focus immediately on the most important parts of the content. Think back to the big idea and decide what the most meaningful parts are and design them visually.

It is important to note that the visual you choose to use needs to have some intrinsic value. Placing one that does not add anything to the learning experience simply wastes the learner’s valuable short time (especially in mobile).

5) Allow for Testing Out

Consider creating an assessment at the beginning of the content that is everything you would expect the learner to master at the end. If this test can be mastered, then the learner can move on and choose a different micro learning module. 

6) Precursor to Longer Learning

Even though Micro Learning is the latest trend in online learning, it does not mean that Macro Learning is no longer needed. Sometimes, Micro Learning should be used in preparation for an annual conference or workshop or as a pre-test before a face-to-face training. This type of design helps to prepare everyone for the conference/training session so that they can maximize their time there.

Similarly, Microlearning can be used after a conference or workshop to follow up on what was discussed in the professional development event. In this case, it should be used as a reflection or as a connection to the workplace to encourage a transformation of actions based on the concepts learned.

Also read: When Designing Microlearning, Keep Macro in Mind

7) Granular Learning Outcomes 

This can actually be one of the most challenging aspects of Microlearning design. Whereas before large and abstract learning objectives could be sufficient for assessing learning, that is not enough in Microlearning where there are very targeted outcomes. What was originally one learning objective should be made into 3 or 4 assessable outcomes. 

Read more: 5 Success Strategies in Microlearning Implementation

8) Mass Customization

Think about the last time you were in a public place watching the paths people took and where they went. Did anyone follow the same exact path? Now expand this to the course of the week. It can be virtually assured that no one follows the same path for a week. The same concept can be applied to micro learning design. You will likely have dozens of mini modules or pieces of learning. Learners will be able to pick and choose from many of these, and they need to make a coherent learning experience.

This can seem impossible. However, applying some of the principles discussed earlier such as making granular learning objectives, testing out, and branching knowledge help to customize the learning experience. Imagine creating a system in which a recently completed module pulls up other modules similar to that one similar to a Netflix home screen.

9) Digital Credentials

One of the difficulties with Microlearning is developing a tracking system for learners. When larger courses are complete learners often get a certificate or other record. Along with more granular content, there needs to be a certificate to match that level of learning.

Many of you have heard of digital credentials matching one learning experience. However, think about one credential for ten micro learning moments. The credential gets filled in as the learner completes those ten experiences. These could be grouped by levels of complexity, subject matter, or any other organizational structure you can think of. 

10) Design for Accessibility

Accessibility is often not included in the design of the content from the very beginning. Adding it on afterward is often not a seamless experience for learners. However, if you design with accessibility in mind from the beginning, it does not take much more time and allows all users to access your content.

There are two components to accessibility. One is for ADA compliance, and one is for universal design. However, even learners that do not need accommodations will benefit from universal design.

You are now ready to start designing micro learning with some best practices in mind. Use the resources below to get up to speed on the theory of micro learning. With this knowledge in mind, you will emerge as a leading micro learning designer. 

Numbers Don’t Lie: Why MicroLearning is Better for Your Learners (and You too)

Think Small: 8 Commandments of MicroLearning

Struggling to Train New Hires Effectively? Try Micro Learning

5 Tips To Make Microlearning Successful


eLearning Toolkit


Karla Gutierrez
Karla Gutierrez
Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT. ES:Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT.

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