In today’s fast-paced workplace, we want to know things immediately, things that match our needs just as they arise, and then we want to go do something about the know-how we just got a few seconds ago. Not surprisingly, search engines have become our go-to channel for that: research has shown that more than 70% of employees will use online searches, first before anything else, to learn what they need on the job¹. And increasingly, mobile devices are our preferred tools: reseach shows that 91% of smartphone users will use their devices to help them carry out their tasks at work².
The workplace is made up of people each with their own unique set of skills, knowledge and abilities. So really, everybody has something to teach a fellow co-worker. And it would be great if we could facilitate this exchange of information, tips, techniques, know-how and strategies to build a richer learning culture. But doing so practically, bearing in mind that we all have deadlines to meet and a boat-load of responsibilities to take care of.
Microlearning is one way we can teach and learn from others in demanding, fast-paced business environments. They can be produced quickly and easily to help others learn and act with practical knowledge. And they don’t necessarily have to be created by someone from the HR or Training departments. Creating a microlesson is much less daunting than say creating a 30-minute elearning course. So anyone can create a microlesson – anyone with anything worth sharing.
A Primer to Microlessons
A micro lesson is a very short, focused lesson. It could be as short as 60 seconds, and is best capped at 3 minutes.
Now you might wonder: what the heck can I learn or teach in 60 seconds? Well, a lot can be achieved in small learning doses. Each microlesson can definitely pack punch on its own delivering learning points that can be readily digested by the learner. But we should also appreciate that microlessons are especially effective as a collection of ideas adding to the understanding of a larger topic.
You can use microlessons to:
- Hold Attention – In business cultures where employees are time-starved and have diminishing attention spans, lessons that are bite-sized and go straight to the point are going to grab attention more than lengthy 30-minute courses.
- Enhance Retention – People can only hang onto so much in their working memory. Small doses of knowledge won’t overload the learner and make the lessons stick.
- Engage – Bite-sized information is primed to be accessed quickly and easily on-the-go, wherever and whenever someone has a couple of minutes to spare.
Creating microlessons are relatively simple, but you still need to put a little muscle into it to get it done well. Take heed from the following guidelines, and you’ll be on your way to creating lessons that are mini and mighty. Great things can come in small packages!
Steps to Making Microlessons Pop
#1 Know the end-goal
As with everything related to learning, it helps to start with the learning objective. What does your intended audience need and the problems they’ve expressed; and correspondingly what do you want them to learn and achieve at the end in order to address them?
Keep your end-goal in mind as you develop your microlessons, and this will help you stay on track to creating something people actually need.
#2 Pick a format
There are plenty of formats to present a micro lesson. They vary from the simple and familiar to produce such as emails, powerpoint slides, quizzes, image and sound files, to the more complex and interactive like videos and games.
When picking a format consider:
- The skills you have – Do I have to pick up a new skill from scratch to create this? Or, can I use the tools I’m familiar with?
- What would be best suited for the content –For instance, videos work well for things that need to be demonstrated.
- The budget you’re working with – When you’re first starting out, you probably don’t have any budget to speak of. There are cheap or free ways to go about it for your first few iterations. Let’s say you want to produce some video content, you can shoot a video on your smartphone, make basic edits from your phone, and upload and share the video to video-hosting sites like YouTube.
#3 Outline your Content
Once you know what your goal is, you’ll start to collect content related to your objective. From there, it’s time to organise and whittle it down.
You can organise your content by identifying the key ideas central to the learning topic and then arranging them in a logical and progressive order.
Within each key idea, you would have essential content and supporting content. Separate what’s essential from the rest; this is content that will form the bulk of your microlessons. Supporting content can be offered as an option, perhaps as an optional link within the microlesson.
#4 Break Up the Content
Now it’s time to break things into more manageable slices, because you don’t want to drown people in information. So break content up into smaller, granular lessons. Each lesson should have its own focus that contributes to the greater learning objective.
#5 Make it Sticky
To engage your audience, you can use context, story and visuals to help keep the information stuck in their heads.
Using context is about making the content relevant to the learner, binding them with a strong emotional connection to what’s being presented. One way is to make use of real-life examples faced in the workplace to illustrate the learning point and get people to see how it’s relevant to their work.
You can also share stories or personal narratives to engage people. A story can be told in a matter of seconds, within a single frame or a single picture. As the saying goes: “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
#6 Collect feedback
Find out what people thought of your microlessons. Were they able to learn something new? Did it help them at work? Do they want more microlessons around the same topic?
You can even add a simple assessment at the end of microlessons to see if they understood what was presented. This provides some feedback on areas where people struggled with, and gives you the impetus to tweak your microlessons to make them more helpful for your audience.
Will you be creating microlessons for the workplace? What would you be creating them for? Share with us in the comments below.
This is probably something many of us can relate to. You know…those moments in life that make us stop in our tracks to go: “Damn. I wish I had thought of that!”
Well not too long ago I stumbled upon something that made me do just that. It was an app?!?! And in a day and age where there is an app for everything such that nothing really fazes anyone anymore, it’s pretty remarkable that it managed to create such a stir in my soul.
Companies today are looking for ways to develop their human capital effectively and efficiently in response to the rapid pace in which their competitive environments are changing. And in their search for a solution, the term “microlearning” would have shown up on their radar more than a few times. After all, the promise of microlearning is an attractive one – a training solution that is cost-effective, supports the rapid creation of training content, and delivers exactly what employees need.
Microlearning has graduated to become a buzzword in the corporate learning and development space. With its reputation as the go-to solution to capture the attention of and truly engage with the next generation of learners, it’s easy to see why microlearning is developing into a phenomenon in its own right.