4 Steps to Microlearning Mastery
Is it cheating if you read the Cliffs Notes version of War and Peace instead of Tolstoy’s? Or is it resourceful?
Your answer probably depends on why you’re reading it and how much time you have; whether you’re in school or business; and whether you’re a kid or an adult.
As an instructional designer in the corporate world, I always assume that learners want to gain a business edge in the shortest amount of time. To me, the Cliffs Notes’ microlearning model is, therefore, not cheating.
The dilemma though is that microlearning is extremely difficult to build. It requires instructional designers (IDs) to be minimalists with their words and interactions, but virtuosos at user-friendly delivery methods. As E.F. Schumacher, author of A Guide for the Perplexed and Small is Beautiful, said, “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
So how does your team get into the microlearning mindset and then use its power?
- Tattoo a rectangle the size of an index card on your forearm.
Just kidding, of course. But an index card is about the size of typical mobile phone screen, and you need to be very cognizant of how much information you can fit on it. Practice boiling down your PowerPoint decks to this size; offer one learning point at a time and try to limit the deck to 5 slides. Then start thinking about media that could substitute for words but fit in the same space…video, for example.
- Research examples of microlearning.
Microlearning isn’t just phone-sized bits of information. Check these sites out for ideas like Google’s post-a-lesson-on-the-back-of-the-toilet-door:
- Dump the “Tell me, show me, let me” model of instructional design.
Jump directly to the “Let me” portion of the learning. Give your learners a problem, let them try to solve it, and give them feedback. Microlearning requires you to cut to the chase, and adult learners are ready for it.
- Don’t push learning.
Let learners pull it when they want or need it (http://bit.ly/Yk2Mve). To evolve from a “push” to “pull” organization, your team must become adept at marketing; learners must know where to get the information just when they need it, so you have to burn it into their brains.
With that, this “Cliffs Notes” version of Getting Started in Microlearning is complete.