7 Tips To Effectively Plan A Microlearning Course

How To Effectively Plan A Microlearning Course

Here are 7 tips on how to successfully plan a microlearning course:

1. Decide If Your Content Should Be Made Into A Microlearning Format

Delivering courses in a "micro" format works best when the content can be comfortably defined within small units and narrow "achievable topics" and "learning outcomes". Here are some questions which your trainers and team need to ask prior to re-positioning existing content or creating new courses:

  • Can a defined learning objective be clearly explained (with or without a working example) under five minutes?
  • Can the content be broken into small or very small units and narrow topics whilst keeping the overall course learning objective?

If the answer to the above is "yes", then you're ready to start planning the syllabus and course content!

Who is course aimed at? If the answer is to "Millennials", then you've certainly targeted the correct group: According to scientists, the age of smartphones has left humans with such a short attention span even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer! Microlearning addresses this demographic perfectly.

Another criterion to consider when deciding if your content should be made into a "micro" format is the overall course duration, as well as the look and feel of the syllabus and product positioning. Would a potential course candidate feel overwhelmed if they saw, for example, 50 videos (learning modules) in a course description or outline? If that's an important factor for your organization, then it's important to consider that approximately 100 minutes (one hour and 40 minutes) of content would equate to 20 videos (of five minutes duration).

2. Be Smart With Planning Your Course Syllabus (Especially With Voiceover Timing)

Each video must be under five minutes for it to be categorized as microlearning. So, when creating your course syllabus (or splitting existing content), you'll need to factor in that each video needs to have at least one actionable and clear learning objective. The most common microlearning medium is video, which will likely be created by motion graphics and desktop recording, and will almost always be accompanied with narration by either the course instructor or by a voiceover professional.

Word count is very important when planning video material. The number of words that are in a five-minute speech depends on how fast the speaker talks, but usually averages between 600 words and 900 words. This is based on the speaker talking at a rate of two or three words a minute. Is your instructor able to speak at that speed? Time his or her natural talking speed and, if necessary, rewrite the content to accommodate the maximum time limit of five minutes per video.

3. Be Smart With Allowing For Updates

Make sure the branding of the videos is consistent, to allow for course updates and module re-publishing. One of the best things about microlearning is that it's much easier to re-publish some or all of the videos over time as the material becomes outdated. For example, one of our best selling microlearning courses is Microsoft Excel, which is subject to software iteration, improvements, bug fixes, and security patches, and we often find ourselves re-publishing certain module segments.

4. Personalization And Compression

To personalize the course, we'd suggest that your instructors introduce themselves using a static photograph in the introductory segment of the course. Or, another option, and likely more expensive, is to use a green-screen in a studio. Branding and watermarking is important, but above all consistency is key. Also, we'd encourage you not to use an "over-the-top" animated logo introduction for each and every video; they can be distracting and waste time. Once you are happy with the final outcome of your content, compress the videos: The fast delivery of your content, either on your Learning Management System or otherwise, will be vital, especially for those that want to study on the move using their mobile device.

5. Items To Include (Extras)

We'd encourage lesson plans that the user can download, because it adds value in our opinion. Audio transcriptions are also very useful, especially for the non-English speakers within your student population.

6. Progression... 

Plan for progression. Try to keep the user engaged by encouraging the student to watch the next video. Finishing a segment with a reason to watch the next video is certainly a good idea, and can be achieved in many ways. Perhaps with extra demonstrations, or with an "instructor's favorite hack" which would be explained in the next video.

7. Encourage Completion 

Repeated mention of achieving a certification or badges ought to be woven into the microlearning content, to reinforce the benefit of completion. In itself, the short duration of the content ought to be enough to create a sense of achievement, since the student can visualize course progression, but it certainly would do no harm for the instructor to refer to the benefits of completion.

In Summary 

Herman Ebbinghaus, the 19th century German psychologist, can in many ways be considered as being the father of microlearning: It was he who brought us the "Forgetting Curve", which demonstrates that we are prone to forgetting 80% of what we learned in 30 days. When you are able to plan a microlearning course successfully, you can confirm that microlearning, coupled with modern technology, addresses and in some ways solves this statistic perfectly.