A growing consensus suggests that microlearning will be the future of L&D. Tailor-made for millennials and Generation Z, this new philosophy of education seems set to dominate the world of online learning.
We have easier access to information than ever before. 2021 seems like a learner’s paradise. But there’s a dark side to all of this: your e-learning content faces stiff competition.
The lure of your LMS needs to be more enticing than Netflix, social media, and mobile games. Microlearning can be part of the solution.
You can probably guess what microlearning is from the name: learning delivered in bite-sized bits. But size is subjective. So how long should microlearning be?
Microlearning Gets Macro Results
But first, we’ll give you a micro crash course on microlearning.
Microlearning is more of a philosophy than something you can point to. The foundation of this philosophy is that, rather than emphasizing long-form learning content, you should use plenty of short materials, too.
Microlearning can take nearly any form. It could be a podcast, and infographic, a quiz, or a video. Just keep it short.
Keep in mind that macrolearning still matters. Short learning materials don’t count as microlearning if they exist in a vacuum. Longer learning opportunities need to exist, too. But microlearning can work toward those macro goals.
Here are some microlearning examples to get your gears turning:
Brief, informational writing (think blog posts and handouts)
For the purposes of this blog, we’ll refer primarily to the runtime of audio and video, which is far-and-away the favorite microlearning format. But the philosophy we’ll share today can apply to any learning material.
The Ideal Microlearning Length
Now, onto the question at hand: how long should microlearning be?
Historically, education has been dominated by roughly hour-long sessions. These alone won’t cut it in the digital age.
Think back to the last event you attended. Were you able to give speakers your full, undivided attention for the duration of their talks?
No matter how interesting the content, attention ebbs and flows. It’s only human. We’ve become accustomed to a fast paced, constant flow of information. We should deliver learning in brief bursts, too, if it should have any chance at keeping up.
So what’s the ideal microlearning length? Here’s our rule of thumb: 10 minutes or less.
Every rule of thumb has its limits, and this one does too. There can definitely be exceptions (more on that later).
Our Rationale Behind the Ideal Microlearning Length
A search on the web for the average human attention span will yield shockingly disparate results.
There is a persistent myth that the millennial attention span is no longer than that of a goldfish, or around 8 seconds. Writers all over the internet have parroted this claim.
Don’t believe it. This idea does a disservice to your learners (and probably goldfish, too). Experts have debunked this claim over and over again.
Others have suggested that somewhere closer to 15 minutes is more accurate. Yet this compelling article from the American Physiological Society shows that even these more generous claims were dredged up from murky data.
Ultimately, attention span is hard to measure. It exists on a spectrum, so often there is no black and white distinction between “paying attention” and “not paying attention.” You can never pinpoint the precise moment when attention declines.
Still, there is overwhelming evidence that consumers have come to prefer shorter content. You might think that the most downloaded app of 2020 was Zoom. In fact, it was TikTok.
Millions of people across the world sunk countless hours into an app that specialized in videos under 60 seconds in length (they’ve since boosted the cap to 3 minutes).
TikTok is for entertainment, not education. But its wild popularity has big implications for e-learning.
When determining how long microlearning should be, we settled on 10 minutes as a good goal to shoot for. This gives you enough time to get a whole lot of information across,
Not only does this break your learning materials into more convenient and digestible chunks for your learners, but it forces educators to think differently, too. Learning how to cut out the fluff and compress your message into a smaller timeframe is a useful exercise for all.
How Micro Is Too Micro?
Then there’s the follow-up question: how short is too short for microlearning?
Again, there are no hard and fast rules about what qualifies as microlearning and what doesn’t. But if we had to answer, we’d say that anything under 1 minute is unlikely to have substantial educational value for your learners.
That’s right—we’ve seen plenty of success with videos around 2 minutes in length. We use them ourselves. 120 seconds is probably longer than you give it credit for, and you can squeeze plenty of information in that timeframe.
A Better Rule of Thumb?
But there might be a better answer to this question: your microlearning content can be as short as you want it to be.
Like we mentioned earlier, microlearning is more of a mindset than anything else. The point is not to inflate your learning content when you’ve said what you want to say. You should always stop recording when you’ve made your point.
Remember that microlearning is more of a mindset than anything else. As you put together your learning portfolio, ask yourself:
Can I get this message across in a more succinct way?
Are there ample microlearning opportunities in my portfolio?
Learners crave diversity. Sprinkling elements of microlearning throughout your LMS will keep them learning their best.
Implement Microlearning with Elevate LMS
Our award-winning learning management system, Elevate, has all the tools you need to unleash the potential of microlearning. Mix and match the modules you need to create a diverse and engaging learning portfolio.
Your learners will get out of your Learning Management System (LMS) what they put into it. To make the most of any online learning platform, you need to engage learners virtually. LMS engagement initiatives will make the difference between an all-star elearning strategy and a middling one.
We want you to make the most of your learning management system. These proven learner engagement strategies will help you do exactly that.
We live in a world where most of us pay for our fair share of subscriptions. But we don’t always utilize the services we pay for as often as we should. Sometimes, you might even forget about them. Still, a simple email can call you right back.
You can use the site news tool in Elevate LMS to the same effect. Use it to remind learners of newly added content, upcoming events, as well as older content they might have missed. A well-written email will get your learners to engage with your LMS in no time.
As the old saying goes, variety is the spice of life. This applies as well to e-learning as it does to anything else.
Formal, curriculum-based learning has its place. But a complete education consists of more than just textbook and tests.
Diversify your learning portfolio as much as you can for better LMS engagement. Keep the learning experience from becoming mundane with the following educational tools:
Podcasts and other informal learning opportunities
When you incorporate this kind of variety into your LMS, you’ll realize it can even be just as easy engaging your learners online as in person.
If your learners can only access your LMS when they sit down in front of a computer, then learner engagement will suffer. But if they can access it from their cell phone? That’s a whole different story.
Ease of access will make a world of difference for your LMS engagement levels. We’ve made Elevate LMS mobile functional, so learners can squeeze in quick microlearning sessions on the go.
Speaking of convenience, you know what’s really inconvenient? Juggling countless different passwords. If simply signing into an LMS is an obstacle, engagement will decline.
We streamline this process by incorporating SSO, or single sign-on. This plays a small but significant role in our quest to engage learners virtually.
We believe that online learning experiences can be every bit as impactful as in-person ones. But we also recognize that a social component is essential for creating a more meaningful educational experience.
The more you look into how to engage learners virtually, the more you will realize that learning can’t exist without community.
Here’s the good news: online learning and community aren’t mutually exclusive. A good LMS will enable social, peer-to-peer learning.
Take the example of Elevate. Our learning management system offers forums and has an extensive integration with Higher Logic, an online community engagement platform. Let these social learning tools live at the center of your learner engagement strategy.
Engage Learners Virtually with Elevate LMS
Your organization’s education goals are bold. Elevate LMS can help you meet them. It contains all the tools you need to engage learners virtually and create a culture of learning.
Our award-winning online learning platform has helped hundreds of associations and nonprofits make their L&D aspirations a reality. Will yours be next?
When you’re ready to take your education strategy to new heights, get in touch with us. Reach out to Meghan Gowen at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more content like this, keep up with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Microlearning is one of the biggest buzzwords in online learning. If you’re already familiar with the e-learning space, you don’t need us to tell you that. Breaking learning down into bite-sized chunks is intuitive, fun, and—most importantly—it gets results.
You don’t have to take it from us. Take a look at the research. Brief bursts of learning result in demonstrably greater knowledge retention than long-form content. Microlearning flattens the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve.
With our help, you can harness the power of this new mode of learning. Here are 5 ways that you can create microlearning with Elevate LMS.
1. Mobile Functionality
Anyone can benefit from microlearning. But it’s ESPECIALLY suited to the generation that grew up with smartphones in their hands.
Most of us think of cell phones and similar mobile devices as strictly for utilitarian or entertainment purposes. Yet they can be powerful learning tools, too.
Elevate LMS is mobile functional. This allows learner to squeeze in quick study sessions on the bus, in line at the bank, or any other brief moment of downtime throughout the day.
2. Short Videos
We’re quite accustomed to attending hour-long talks. But sometimes, no matter how effective the speaker or interesting the material, you just can’t give them your undivided attention. Not for long, anyway.
Around the 10-minute mark, attention might start to wane. Learning comes to a halt.
What’s the solution? Some would say coffee. We don’t disagree. But you know what might be better? A shorter lecture.
Right now, video is far-and-away the favorite microlearning format. Instead of including 30-minute instructional videos in your LMS, try 10, 5, or even 2-minute ones. Your users will remain more focused and have an easier time retaining what they’ve learned.
Stack enough of these microlearning videos on top of each other, and you’ll make no sacrifices in total knowledge transfer.
Still, you’ll want to evaluate your learners’ progress. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to implement microlearning in your knowledge checks: quizzes.
You already know what quizzes are, but have you ever thought of them as an example of microlearning? If tests are macro, then quizzes are micro.
Elevate LMS makes it easy to craft quizzes that maximize learning and retention of knowledge.
Remember that even brief knowledge checks can pack a big punch. They reinforce the information your learners have just encountered, while also giving them a sense of where they might need to improve.
We’re accustomed to thinking that podcasts should be long, but they really don’t have to be. Don’t blindly buy into the idea that informative audio needs to fulfill a half-hour or longer timeslot.
Why not experiment with a shorter podcast format? Try putting a couple 10-minute-long clips out there and see how your learners respond.
Without the intimidation of a long run-time, they might find it easier to listen into these sessions while doing the dishes, or on quick drives to the grocery store.
Short but informative podcasts are a spectacular informal learning tool in a microlearning format. Trim the fat from your audio materials and jump right to the chase for a better return on the time invested by your learners.
Forgive us for using the cliché, but here goes: a picture is worth a thousand words.
Like so many other cliches, this one gets repeated so often for a reason: it’s true. A single image can convey more information than a wall of text, and in a more intuitive, approachable format.
Start thinking of infographics as a prime example of microlearning at work in your LMS. Don’t bog them down with information. Make sure it’s easy to extract important info at a glance.
Don’t Forget Your Macrolearning Goals!
With these tools at your disposal, you now know how to implement microlearning into Elevate LMS.
But keep this in mind: none of the things we’ve listed above are microlearning on their own. They only become microlearning if they contribute toward a broader, macro goal.
Think of macrolearning as the main course of your education strategy. Microlearning is the appetizer and—if you do it right—the dessert, too.
Create Microlearning with Elevate LMS
CommPartners knows what it takes to power enduring educational experiences. Our award-winning learning management system, Elevate LMS, contains all the tools you need to implement microlearning and propel the rapid intake of knowledge.
This is a guest post written by Tracy King, CAE. As CEO of InspirEd, Tracy King leverages her more than 20 years in workforce development consulting with organizations on education strategy and learning design. Tracy is the author of Competitive Advantage: Create Continuing Education that is Profitable, Sustainable and Impactful, and she advises on how to grow reliably profitable and sustainable continuing education programs that transform learners. Tracy specializes in the intersection of learning science and technology. She’s a thought leader, invited speaker, master learning designer and DELP Scholar. Her work has been featured on NBC, ABC, FOX, USA Today, The Star Tribune and hundreds of nationally-syndicated television, newspaper, and magazine outlets. Tracy is a contributor to Microlearning in the Digital Age: The Design and Delivery of Learning in Snippets forthcoming by Routledge, Taylor & Francis group.
Learning inherently solves problems. It is designed to help us be or do something new, better, or differently. Learning programs that resolve top of mind challenges are a member prospect magnet. If you’ve been considering getting into the microcredentialing game, target the member segment you want to grow and build quick-win problem-solution learning that offers digital badge credibility (of course branded to your association).
Ideally, this should be the next step call to action you offer after member onboarding. While any of your meaty digital programs could serve as that next step, microlearning is easy to commit to and can be accessed via mobile for those professionals who just can’t take another minute in front of their laptop screen. If you’re going to design microlearning curriculum that solves problems and inspires behavior change, your organization and your new member both benefit from taking the additional step to qualify it as a digital badge. Your new member gets to solve a problem and share their accomplishment. Your organization’s visibility as the problem solver naturally grows.
One more tip: Free microlearning should dovetail into paid programs conveniently located in your LMS to learn more and tackle deeper skill development. By winning trust with a quality initial learning engagement, an additional investment becomes an easier decision to make.
Quick-win learning is an easy commitment and has higher completion rates
Giving new members a micro byte generates an appetite for higher-investment learning programs
Getting new members started immediately increases the likelihood they will realize membership value – and sharing their digital badge tells your story in their network giving you greater market visibility
These ideas work in tandem so it’s important that you familiarize yourself with both parts of this series. Once you feel comfortable with both Part 1 and 2 of Learning Strategies for New Members, it’s time to implement these strategies:
Start with what you have and map out the digital pieces you need to complete your programs so you can divide and conquer. Consider:
What assets do we have, what do we need, and what can be modified to create our new member onboarding journey?
What critical pain points could we begin addressing through microcredentialing that would not only attract new prospects but become the perfect segue to our paid programs?
With these strategies, you will be prepared to meet new members with curated content that will guide them effortlessly through your learning catalog.
If you’re interested in transforming your learning design, contact Tracy at email@example.com. If you’re interested in Elevate LMS or in onboarding strategies for Elevate LMS, contact Meghan Gowen at firstname.lastname@example.org.