Microlearning is one of the latest trends in elearning. It’s easy to see why, as it boasts benefits such as:
- Modules that can be used for just-in-time learning.
- Enabling a more flexible, blended-learning approach.
- Being a resource that learners can reference again and again.
- Various cognitive learning benefits.
- Being ideal for those learners who are on-the-go.
It’s understandable why instructional designers would jump on this trend, but they need to be careful with how they use it. Since it’s such a relatively fresh style of learning, there isn’t a ton of research yet on the best ways to use microlearning. There are also a lot of misconceptions out there on what actually makes an effective microlearning module.
Not every course suits a microlearning format, as it works best when applied to specific skills objectives, which need to be set at the beginning of the module. If you have a list of complex learning objectives, microlearning might work best as a supplement or in limited portions of the course only.
Microlearning also needs to include a learning strategy. Just because it’s microlearning doesn’t mean you can’t have substantial knowledge checks or information.
This is where interactivity comes in: interactivity is a great way to include substance, knowledge checks, and memorable practice to help learners absorb and retain the information.
Here are some innovative microlearning examples where instructional designers have used interactivity (made possible by dominKnow authoring tools) to take their microlearning to the next level.
Microlearning Examples #1: The Need for Speed
“The Need for Speed” is a course created by dominKnow to discuss the effects of image optimization on speed of a web page in an elearning course. The first of our microlearning examples, it’s a meta module including several interactive elements.
First, they included an embedded video. This video is special for a number of reasons:
- It’s short: it’s only two minutes long. It’s very easily consumable in a short amount of time.
- There are captions: Ever notice how on social media these days all videos have captions? That’s because it makes users more likely to watch them. They can get the gist of the video without having to deal with annoying audio in situations where it would be difficult to deal with; like in public, on their phone, or in the office. The captions make it easier to consume this microlearning anywhere, anytime. The captions have a secondary benefit: reading along gives the user another way to absorb the information, and forces the user to engage with the video as opposed to passively allowing the seconds to slide on by.
- There are no talking heads: We love that this video isn’t just some person chatting. They used the video only when they needed to really show how something worked on a desktop. It makes the video very targeted and applicable to the given tasks. Best of all, the user can follow along on their own computer if they so choose.
Another great interactive feature in the course are these flippable flash cards. They have images on one side and explanatory text on the other, which is revealed when selected.
- They require the user to interact, not just passively consume the course.
- They have a fun animation when flipped, again, keeping the user engaged.
- The image is a great way for the user to make visual associations with the facts, making them easier to remember.
- They reinforce the reasons why this skill/activity is important to the learner (what’s in it for me).
- These flash cards have so many uses – think learning vocab, the steps of a process, or any other set of items that the learner needs to remember. The student can even informally test themselves if they so choose.
This wonderful conclusion to the course features tiny videos on the different common tools the learner can use to complete the task of optimizing images. These videos are amazing and easy for the user to follow along on their own computer.
Once the videos open up, they feature some extra interactivity features.
- Specific steps are listed on the side of the video, and the user can click to skip to that part of the video. This is great as it meets the needs of multiple learning styles in one piece.
- The user can also enter a full screen mode if they prefer to watch the video without the steps.
- They aren’t actually videos, but interactive HTML so it plays better on mobile devices and is responsive.
What an ideal show me exercise for microlearning! Like the other microlearning examples in this article, it makes creative use of the features available in dominKnow authoring tools.
Overall, this module features everything a learner could ask for:
- A clear learning outcome set at the beginning of the course.
- Simple, with very little text or unnecessary videos.
- Interactivity to keep the learner engaged and make the learner more likely to remember the information.
- Multiple examples with various ways to absorb the information for different learning styles.
- Consideration of mobile or the other ways users will realistically use the module.
- Ability for the learner to choose more specific topics that apply to them and skip others.
- An opportunity for the user to try the new skill out on their own.
Microlearning Examples #2: Why You Need Responsive Elearning
“Why You Need Responsive Elearning” is a course created by dominKnow using their authoring tools. This course is great because it contains a lot of interactive graphics that illustrate this topic.
Of all the microlearning examples, this one might be the most visual. The course is filled with animated infographics that move when the user scrolls down the page. This keeps all these facts simple to absorb, understand, and engage with. Animated graphics appear throughout the course.
Some of the graphics are more interactive; this section asks the learner to play with the sliders in order to visualize responsive screens. This brings a nice boost to memory and understanding for some more difficult concepts, while keeping the learner engaged with a little fun.
This portion of the course shows the learner how to see the main goal of the course – understating responsive design – in action.
Overall, this course is a great example of microlearning because:
- It sets out to teach a simple lesson, clearly laid out at the beginning of the course.
- It’s responsive, and therefore compatible with mobile learning.
- Uses of awesome, easy-to-remember visuals.
- It uses a single page design so learners can easily scroll up and down referring to previous concepts without needing to load and unload multiple pages.
- Makes the visuals interactive to increase engagement.
- Simple, minimal use of text.
Microlearning ExampleS #3: PENS Configuration: eLogic
This course, “PENS Configuration: eLogic” was created using The dominKnow Platform’s suite of authoring tools to teach configuration of PENS with eLogic. It’s a little different from the examples we just looked at. Instead of the course taking the form of a mini-site, it’s an embedded module on a webpage with a variety of features to appeal to different learning styles.
The first part of the course is a short video. Like previous videos we’ve looked at, it’s brief and only used when necessary to show where things are in an application. The steps of the configuration are on the right and are clickable so the user can jump to that section of the course.
Then the user can check out the other tabs:
The video defaults to the “Show Me” tab, but the user can follow up with the “Try Me” tab to put what they just learned into action.
The “Try Me” tab is an awesome step-by-step simulation that requires the user to click on the screen, learning how to do it as if they are in the actual application.
The “Guide” tab has the same information, but in step-by-step screenshots for the learner to read, scan, or even print out. This is great for users who learn better in different ways, and also as a reference to have by your side as you complete the steps in the application.
Let’s go over what makes this microlearning example so great:
- Offers an interactive simulation for users to learn the skill.
- Clear learning outcome set at the beginning of the course.
- Multiple options for learning.
- A golden example of how microlearning can fulfill just-in-time learning needs.
Lessons Learned from these Interactive Microlearning Examples
There are a few elements that were consistent throughout these microlearning examples – and that should be consistent throughout most microlearning courses.
Keep it simple: Use simplicity in the text and layout of the course. Use only what’s necessary and consider why you need it before you use videos and other elements. Keeping the course short is also key; therefore any video elements must be kept short.
Use interactivity for engagement and memory: Interactivity can be a valuable tool in keeping users engaged and playing games to increase memory recall – and even as a knowledge check. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it.
Include multiple learning types: Include elements that appeal to different types of learning. This will both make sure all your learners are covered, and learning something in multiple ways will help with memory.
Set a clear learning outcome at the beginning of the course: And with microlearning, make sure it’s not too complicated.
Use visuals more than anything else: They’re easy to absorb, even on mobile.
Microlearning can be such a great option for flexible, easy-to-digest learning. It’s easy on the instructional designer too – it can take less time to develop, and be easier to update. You just have to be sure that you’re using microlearning the way it’s meant to be used. Microlearning still needs substance to be effective, and visuals, interactivity, and simplicity can all provide that substance. I hope these microlearning examples give you an idea of how to create effective modules.
DOWNLOAD The FREE MICROLEARNING GUIDE
This guide includes some of the examples we talked about here, but we’ve also compiled some of the best research related to microlearning and included tips on knowing when microlearning will be effective – and when it won’t be.