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Why you should be creating Microlearning and how to do it
Jun 8, 2021
45 minutes
Tessa Razafindrakoto
Senior Onboarding Specialist

Tessa 0:02: Welcome everyone. I do see some familiar — I want to say faces but, familiar names. So welcome back to those of you who already have joined webinars in the past or training sessions of mine. And for those of you who are new, welcome. My name is Tessa. I’m an onboarding specialist at Easygenerator and I’m going to be hosting today’s webinar on microlearning. We are quite a large group so everyone is, by default, muted, and everyone’s video is also off.  


If you do have any questions, however, throughout today’s webinar, which should last about 45 minutes, by the way, then please make sure to use the Q&A. I know that many of you are using the chat. I am keeping my eye on that as we go. So, if you would like to chat with other participants, or myself, then feel free to use the chat. If you have questions that you would really like answered, then please add them to the Q&A. My colleague, Jordan, who’s also on the line is going to be answering questions in the Q&A. So, make sure to ask them there and they will, of course, be answered.  


Last thing I want to mention before starting is that this webinar is being recorded. So, it will be sent out before the end of the week to all of you. So, if you do need to hop off for some reason, or if you know that there are other colleagues who would like to view it, then they will be able to view the recording afterwards. 


So, I’m going to go ahead and kick off. We’re almost at 180 attendees in the webinars are great to see. 


So, in today’s webinar, I’m going to be discussing microlearning, you should all be able to see my screen. I’m going to use screen-sharing throughout the entire webinar. 


Now the goal of today’s webinar is to help you understand what microlearning is and why you should be using it. But I’m also going to distinguish between the different types of microlearning. And of course, I’ll go into the more practical side of things: how does microlearning work — how to create microlearning; how to distribute microlearning best. So, these are the three main things I’m going to cover. For the last topic, I’m actually going to go into Easygenerator and demonstrate it for you. So that will come at the end of today’s webinar. 

What is Microlearning?

But first, what is microlearning? It’s probably a word that most of you — if not all of you — have already heard of before. But it might not have the same meaning for all of you here. And that’s because microlearning isn’t always defined in exactly the same way. Sometimes, microlearning refers to small learning units that support other learning activities to actually improve the learning outcomes of those activities. And other times, it can refer to small learning units that solve a problem immediately and support employees for a specific task or solution then in there. This is what we call workplace or performance support.  


So those are two common definitions of microlearning. Now, I would not say that one of them is correct, and the other isn’t. And that’s just because microlearning can mean several different things. So, what we stand by, and what I will stand by in today’s webinar is a combined definition that microlearning can actually mean one, or the other, or both.  


And what this means is that this actually leads to three different applications of microlearning. So microlearning can be applied in three different ways. The first way is in the context of a learning event. I’ll explain a little bit more what a learning event is in a second. But essentially, microlearning can be used to complement a learning event. Besides that, microlearning can also be used on its own as autonomous learning. Or last option, you can also apply microlearning as performance support. So, to support employees on the job to satisfy very specific needs, a specific task, or specific process.  


Alright, so those are the three applications of microlearning. The one major thing that they all have in common is that they’re short. That’s the defining factor, of course, of “micro” in microlearning. But what exactly does micro mean? Or how small is micro actually? Now, as a rule of thumb, something between seven to 10 minutes is micro. If someone can go through something — an e-learning course or a resource — within seven to 10 minutes or even less, then it’s considered microlearning.  


But just remember, this does not mean that all your e-learning courses have to be below 10 minutes. Absolutely not. Microlearning is just not the solution for everything. It’s not the solution for every single learning need. Some topics may very well be suited to microlearning, and others are more suited to the formal course-style e-learnings that you are probably currently used to creating. But when you do go for micro-courses — microlearning — when it suits your learning needs, there are quite a lot of benefits.

Why you should create Microlearning


Tessa 5:12 — The benefits do differ a little bit based on your application of it. But the main benefit is universal across all. Based on research, microlearning — so short, really short courses or resources — are going to be more effective than longer ones. And that is because shorter courses and resources are better remembered. So, it’s better for retention.  


But also, shorter courses or resources are way more approachable. They can be taken literally whenever but also literally wherever because they are so short. So, because they’re so short, they also have higher completion rates. More people are going to take them. More people are also going to complete them. 


Other benefits are that they can be delivered way faster. Because they’re created for to easily and quickly, they can be distributed really quickly and easily, and updated really quickly and easily. And, last but not least, microlearning is very compatible with tablets and mobile devices — something that is definitely relevant in today’s day and age. 

Different types of Microlearning


So now let’s dive into the different possible applications of microlearning to make this all a little bit more concrete. I mentioned earlier, there are three applications of microlearning. Let’s start with the first one in the context of a learning event. 


Microlearning in the context of a learning event 

Now what is a learning event? A learning event is something that can be maybe a face-to-face session, such as a webinar, a training, maybe a big e-learning course — so not a micro one, but a bigger one, right? So, a learning offense is basically a learning activity that takes much more time. When you have a learning event, microlearning can be used both for learners to prepare for that event and it can also be used for them to follow up from that event. So, before the learning event, or after, or both.  


If you use microlearning in preparation for an event, it means that you basically flip the classroom, for those of you who are familiar with that term. “Flip the classroom” basically means, in this context, that you create a micro-course, a very short course, to prepare them for that learning event. That means that maybe you’re going to describe the main bits of theory. You have them then take that micro-course prior to the learning event, and you then use the learning event to have them apply what they’ve learned in the micro-course, because then you’re there to support them.  


So, what this means is that the group will already be acquainted with the basics or the theory of the topic, which better prepares them for the application during the learning event.  


So, this term that I’m using — flip the classroom — of course, this came first from the school context. And this can be explained using the example of homework. If you think about homework, the way that we used to have it in school, for example, we used to study the topic in class. So, we would learn the theory, and then we would have to do the homework at home.  


But if we flip the classroom, which is also what is happening in a lot of schools today, you’re actually having them study the topic at home and do the homework in class. Because it’s the application — so the homework — that people usually need the support on. So, that’s exactly how microlearning can be used to prepare for a learning event. So, you give them the information and, during the learning event, you are there to help with the application of it. So, the learning event is made more productive. So that’s how you can use microlearning to prepare for a learning event. And in that case, the microlearning can be very short. 


Tessa 9:44 — You can also use microlearning as a follow-up after the event has already taken place. And if you do this, it’s more for the purpose of repetition. If you repeat information multiple times, it’s of course more likely to stick. The more you repeat something, the more you will remember it. So that is what you can see on the right-hand side. You can see the forgetting curve, which shows exactly this: the more repetitions, the better the memory. Or in other words, the more repetitions, the lower the memory loss. So, in this case, repeating the content using microlearning will help them remember.  


Of course, you don’t want to repeat using the same microlearning each time. You can of course switch up the format. So maybe after the learning event has taken place, send them a short five-minute video. And one week later, send them a quiz that will also take five minutes. In fact, a quiz is actually a very engaging way to repeat content, because it’s slightly more challenging and it requires them to really think actively about the topic. So, by switching up the format — you know, video, text, maybe some images, a quiz — those are great ways to implement microlearning for repetition, after the learning event has taken place. 


Remember, as well, that when you do add these repetitions that they’re a little bit spaced so that you don’t send the video and the quiz and the text all at the same time. That would sort of defeat the purpose of microlearning. If they’re spaced out, then they can really be taken within five minutes each time. 


So, this is what it could look like in practice what I’ve just explained. You could have one or perhaps several microlearnings prior to the main event, and then have the main learning event take place. And after that main learning event, maximize retention, so to make sure that they remember everything, you can then add additional microlearning follow-ups. So, this is where I mentioned, for instance, the quiz, but also, for example, a video or a short recap or summary. 


Now by nature, this is actually a blended approach, right? You’ve got different formats, maybe mixed between face-to-face and online. And that diversity is also going to be beneficial for learning. 


Microlearning as autonomous learning 

So that’s the first application. Now how can you use microlearning on its own? I’ve been referring a lot to this learning event. But you can also use microlearning even if you don’t have a learning event. Even if you don’t have, you know, a longer face-to-face training, you can also just use microlearning on its own. Either maybe just one on its own, or several tied up to one another. I’ll show you later during the demonstration how you can tie them up together. 


But essentially, when you have content split up into really short learning bites, it’s going to be way more digestible for the learners. So, they’re going to remember more of it, especially if you space these in time. So, you can still cover quite a few topics but in really short bites. Also, because they’re five minutes, everyone has time to complete it. Altogether, these are actually maybe 20 or 25 minutes, and that’s already a slightly higher hurdle to cross. So but with five minutes, six minutes, seven minutes, 10 minutes even, the hurdle is way lower. 


Now, if you do use microlearning connected in this way, as you can see on the slide, it’s very much in line with the use of Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) — for those of you who are familiar with that, or for those of you who are using Learning Experience Platforms for distributing learning units. 


In Learning Experience Platforms, you can very easily create learning paths like this that complement the use of microlearning. So, for those of you who are using Learning Experience Platforms, this is definitely relevant. 


Microlearning as performance support

And the third application is for performance or for workplace or performance support. Performance support means that you can support employees just in time, when they need to solve a problem or apply something on the spot. Microlearning, by nature, works very well for this because when someone is already working — when they’re on the job — and they need support, they wanted quickly, and they want their answers quickly, and they don’t want to spend a lot of time searching. They also don’t want to spend a whole lot of time learning. They just want their answer and then they want to continue working. This is the kind of “Google it” feeling that that I’m sure everyone here is familiar with, at least I know I am. So microlearning, in essence, because it’s so short is very well suited for performance support. 


Tessa 15:03  — Now just want to make the distinction here between “learning” and “performance support.” Earlier I was referring to microlearnings to compliment a learning event, or to use microlearnings on its own. Both of those applications refer to learning — the moments where an employee has to learn something new or has to learn something more about something. 


That’s the first third of the graph that you can see here in front of you. And micro-courses — so, micro e-learning courses — are very well-suited to this. So, micro e-learning courses are courses — if you’re familiar with Easygenerator — where you have separate different sections, and separate pages. This is ideal for that.  


But with performance support, it’s a little bit different. Because with performance support, it’s not about teaching someone new or more things anymore. It’s about supporting them with an immediate need. Giving them some help or support to execute a task correctly or to solve a problem or to apply something. So, it’s more about continuous improvement, or efficiency. 


So, the microlearning that’s used here will take a little bit of a different formats, it will take the format of what we call a resource. So, it’s more of a checklist or an instructional guide, or some steps that they need to follow. 


It can actually take different forms, if we’re going to be more specific. Here are a few examples of what this can actually look like in practice. So, it could be, for example, a how-to guide with some clear step-by-step instructions on how to do something. It could be a checklist with a list of tasks to complete, instructions with outlines of how to do something, a guideline — general overview of processes — or maybe even frequently asked questions. Maybe frequently asked questions about a process that you expect people may have questions on. 


Now with all of these — although the formats are a little bit different — there are ways to break down information into bite-sized, digestible pieces that are really, practical. So that’s the last application of microlearning.  


So today, I’ve presented these three applications. And I’ve presented them as separate applications. But actually, you can also combine them. For example, let’s say you have a learning event. A learning event can also be an e-learning course. Some of you may be used to creating e-learning courses that maybe take, you know, 25, maybe 30 minutes. And it’s a learning event because it’s broader. It covers a steep learning curve. It has, in this case, five sections. So, this isn’t really a micro-course, right? This is just an e-learning course and it can be considered a learning event.  


Inside that learning event, you can also embed a resource. So, you can embed a micro-course inside a regular e-learning course. And you can do the same with micro-courses as well. You can have a micro-course in which you embed several different checklists. So, you can use a combination of micro-course applications — microlearning applications. Hopefully this doesn’t confuse you too much.

How to create Microlearning

So now that I’ve covered what microlearning is, and the different applications of it, I want to go more into the practice. How can you actually get started? How can you create micro-courses? What does it look like and how is it done? Now, before I actually get into that, the first question you should be asking yourself is: who is going to get started? Who is going to be creating these micro-courses? 


Tessa 19:03 — If you take a central approach with the Learning & Development team as the center, who take ownership on the content creation, it would look something like this. The employee, or the subject matter expert, would share their knowledge with Learning & Development, perhaps the instructional designer who’s going to create the microlearning. Probably there will be some feedback rounds and evaluations taking place between the Learning & Development department and the business employee to ensure that everything is accurate.  


Then once that process is done, it will be distributed through Learning & Development back into the business where the learner is. Now with this central approach, where Learning & Development takes full ownership, it can take quite long before the microlearning is created, evaluated and distributed. Alright, so although the microlearning itself is probably around seven to 10 minutes long, it may take weeks before it even reaches the learner.  


Time is of course money. So, costs will be slightly higher with the central approach. And maintenance as well is going to be costly and time intensive. So, to update a resource, as soon as it’s out of date, it’s going to have to go through those multiple parties again.  


So, what works better than this centralized approach is to leave the knowledge where it is. So have the subject matter experts, the employees in the business, share their knowledge directly to the learners. So, this means it’s the subject matter experts creating the microlearning. Now, Easygenerator is also created for subject matter experts. So, anyone without experience can create e-learning courses, can create microlearning on the tool without being an instructional designer, for example. And from this decentralized approach, the employee takes ownership of the creation and the distribution. So, actually, they’re the best person to do that. Of course, they can always get guidance from Learning & Development or instructional designers. But, in essence, the knowledge transfer goes from the subject matter expert to the learner much more quickly.  


So, speed is way higher because the employee creates it with their own knowledge and expertise. There’s no back and forth here, and they make it available to the learner in the business immediately. Costs will also be lower because of this, and maintenance can help or whenever it’s necessary. And the subject matter expert is most likely to know when that is. So, whenever it’s required, they can make the change without having to create a ticket or whatsoever.  


So now, how can you use Easygenerator to create these microlearnings as a subject matter expert? That is what I’m going to show you now. So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to jump over to Easygenerator now. I’m going to switch my screen-sharing. Hopefully, you’re able to see my Easygenerator screen now. 


On the screen, you can see a micro-course. So, I’m going to cover this first I’m going to go through how you can create a micro-course. And then I’m going to show you how you can create a micro-resource. So those two are the ones are the ones I’m going to show you today.  


Here you can find an example of a micro-course that’s been created. One of the important things that I would like to mention here is this: with microlearning, you really should let them know that it is a microlearning. That is one of the huge benefits of microlearning — that it’s so short. So, this is something that you want to advertise, right? So let them know that it’s short so that it’s a lower hurdle for them as well.  


This is something that you can best do within the introduction on the very first page. As soon as they click, they know, “okay, this will take me less than 10 minutes, so you know what, I can do it right now.” That’s the most important — make sure that you let them know.  


In this example, you can see that there are three sections, some of you may be thinking “three sections, is that really microlearning anymore? That’s quite long.” Not necessarily, your sections can be very short. So I don’t have a rule here on how many sections you should add. It really depends on how lengthy your sections are. If your sections are relatively lengthy, maybe one is the max. And if they’re very short, three can work as well. The benefits of using sections, by the way, is that you can structure your content better. So, just because you have very minimal amounts of content does not mean that you won’t benefit from having structure. 


Tessa 24:06 — One of the important things — even with microlearning — is to add learning objectives. This basically tells the learner what the goal is. So, you want to include this. I will mention as well later, this is actually also very helpful for yourself. Then, of course, you add content. I would say be minimal with this add only the content that they need to reach the objective. In this case, there are two pages and there’s also a question. With microlearnings as well, I would encourage you to include questions. Yes, of course, it does take a little bit of time as well, but it makes it way more interactive. It also ensures that they’re just not going from page one to page 10 and closing it within three minutes, perhaps.  


With the questions you’re really certain that they’re going through everything and processing things actively as well. So, include questions that also ensure self-assessment throughout these microlearnings. And then of course, they would continue to the next section.  


So that is an example of what a micro-course can potentially look like. Now, how can you create a micro-course? I’m sure that many of you are familiar with this setup. This is, of course, the Easygenerator editor. So, when you have created a course — so that is, of course up here — you can start creating your micro-course. If you’re creating a micro-course, as I said earlier, make sure that you let them know how long it will take. This is an important motivator for them as well. Then to start creating, of course, it’s drag-and-drop, once again, so drag in your section and start editing. So, you would add your section title, you would add your icon as well, perhaps. And you would also include a learning objective.  


Once again, I mentioned this earlier, I would really advise doing this, because you’re giving yourself some direction as well. When you’re creating a microlearning that’s going to take somewhere between seven and 10 minutes, it can sometimes be very difficult for you to determine what content is most important. You probably have quite a lot of content already, you probably have a lot of PowerPoints, PDFs and resources available to you. How do you decide which ones should be included in that microlearning, and which ones perhaps don’t need to be? Use the learning objective for this. 


The learning objective is the goal of the section. So, either use the learning objective maker. Some of you or most of you are probably familiar with this one. You basically answer the questions “who, what and how to build your learning objective.” Now, if you have one already, feel free to just go ahead and copy and paste. And once you have this learning objective in there, you’re giving yourself some direction as to what kind of content you should be adding in here and what kind of questions can measure success. So having that learning objective is going to give you some direction.  


Once you have your learning objective in there, it can sometimes seem most intuitive to add your content first. So, this is what most people will do. The risk here is that you will add a lot of content, right? Because you have a lot of content. As the subject matter experts, especially, you probably have a lot of things that you would like to share. The risk is that it will no longer be a microlearning anymore, it will be a relatively lengthy e-learning course.  


So, instead of adding your content first, what I would advise is to add your questions first, or question. Look at your learning objective and create a question that we’ll assess whether the learning objective has been reached. So go ahead and drag in a question and create it. So, this is the question editor — I’m sure most of you are familiar with. So, for example, if someone claims not to have budget, what do you do? I’ve got some answer options, though I’m not really going to add any. This is also really not my expertise. So, I’m just going to add a couple of options here. And let’s say ABC is the correct answer. You can then provide some feedback to personalize the process or for acknowledgement.  


You can, by the way, also check the preview — I’m sure most of you know this already — just to check exactly what your question looks like and how it works. 


So, once you have a question in here that assesses whether the learning objective is reached, then add your content. And try only to add the content that they actually need to answer this question. And that way, you’re going to only add the content that’s most relevant. That is how you make sure to keep the content minimal, and to make sure that it stays within the boundaries of that microlearning. 


To add content — I’m sure most of you already know — you can just, once again, drag and drop. So, you can include some text, images, videos, documents, or even some interactive content. So, you would just drag and start editing. So for example, maybe you’d like to add a quote, “I have no budget for this,” and then continue on to giving some solutions. In this case, consider the following and so on. So, add your content here. That will help them in the case that someone objects regarding budget. And you can of course, do the same with images, videos, documents, you know, all of these options that exist here.  


Tessa 30:20 — So following the order of learning objective, then question, then content, is going to help you make sure that your microlearning remains short. Another way of also checking whether your microlearning is short enough, is to make use of the review functionality. Most of you know we have two collaboration options within the tool. You can co-author if you want someone to help you create the microlearning with you, potentially at the same time. But we also have the “review” function, and that’s the one I would like to focus on here.  


In the comments, you can generate a review link, and a review link is to receive feedback from people. So, what you do is you copy the link, and you send it to somebody who can provide you with feedback. When you send this link to someone, ask them to keep an eye on the time. So, send it to them, and they will be able to go through your course as if they were a learner. So, they will also see that it’s supposed to take less than 10 minutes. Ask them to go through it and check whether it would really take 10 minutes.  


As an expert, it’s often difficult to estimate how long it will really be, because you’re the expert in the topic. So, asking someone using that review link is going to be really helpful for you to determine, “is this really 10 minutes? Is it much less? Is it much more?” So that’s what it’s regarding the creation of an e-learning course — a micro-course.  


Besides the micro-course, if you’re going to use microlearning for performance support, then you can use a checklist or a how-to guide. Here’s an example of a how-to guide: how to manage risk. There are five steps involved. So, the learner can go through these steps when they’re in the situation where this needs to be done. Now, this is I would say almost easier to create microlearning for because it’s all on one page. So, you will notice quite quickly that it’s actually quite easy to keep this short.  


When you create a resource, by the way, it’s something you can do by clicking up here. You can get started. It’s the same editor. So, you can add once again, text, images, videos, documents, and interactive content. Here everything is on one page. You don’t have sections, you don’t have pages, and you don’t have questions. So, it’s different to a micro-course, in that regard. Here, it’s really just content. It is interactive, because they go through the different steps. With the checklist, it’s interactive, as well, because they tick all the items on the list.  


With the micro-resource, my tip is to focus on one process or one task. You can create multiple. You can create many resources. But for one resource, stick only to one topic. That will be the main help for you to make sure that it’s remained short. So just stick to one. Another tip: use this introduction to let them know when they can use this checklist or when they can use this guide. So, “in which situation should you use this” — just to make sure that when they open it up, they can check if they’re in the right place. 


Another tip is to keep in mind the labels. In this case, you’ve got labels that are meaningful. Make sure to have meaningful labels instead of just “step one, step two, step three,” have the labels here. Because it makes it easier for the learner. Let’s say the learner needs some help with something but they actually only need help with the ranking of the risk, and they really don’t need these two steps. It’s even quicker for them to just go straight here if it’s in the title. Sounds like something very minor. But it’s way easier and user friendly to have the titles in there. So, everything is super searchable.  


Once you’ve created a resource or a checklist — the design step by the way is to ensure that your branding is applied to it — you have the publishing step. I mentioned earlier that you can combine resources or performance support to turn microlearning into learning events, into e-learning courses or even into micro-courses. Now to do that, I just want to show you how. These are, by the way, the ways to publish a resource.  


If you want to combine a resource inside an e-learning course, you will use “inside a website.” Copy the link that you can see here and go over to the course that you would like to embed it in. I’m going to embed it in the “objection handling in sales,” — the topics are not really related — but just for the purpose of today. In a “content” page, add the HTML block. So, drag it in and paste the link that you have just copied, and your resource will be embedded inside your e-learning course. So that is how you could potentially combine the two. You can also use them in not in isolation, but I just wanted to show you how you can use them in combination. 


Tessa 36:15 — Perfect. So that actually covers what I wanted to cover today. So, how to use or how to create a micro-course — micro e-learning course — and how to create a micro-resource on Easygenerator. So just to sum up, this is where you find courses, and this is where you find resources. So you will find both up here. 

Live Q&A

So that’s covers everything. Just before I check if there are any outstanding questions left, to close off this webinar, I just want to ask you, whether you could help me with answering some feedback on the webinar. That would really help to see how we can improve these webinars and potentially also, what next topics we can offer that would be beneficial for you.  


So Jordan, if you could just add the link to the survey in the chat. Yes, I see it popping in. So, if you could all fill that in, that would be really helpful. In the meantime, just want to check in with my colleague, Jordan. Are there any outstanding questions, Jordan, from the Q&A that we should perhaps answer live?  


Jordan 37:37 — Right now, there’s just one last question that came in: can resources be kept separate and sent us separate links to users? Or do they have to be embedded? 

Tessa 37:49 — Yeah, so resources can also be published on their own. So, you can use just the link. That’s the easiest. So, if you send this link to someone, they will just click to open and they have the resource immediately there. It’s then something that they can, for example, favorite to keep for any future use. So yes, it can be used also independently.  


I see also in the chat, “Where can the recording be accessed? So yeah, the recording will be sent over via email before the end of the week. So, I expect around. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow is when it should be coming in. 


I see also, the last question in the chat that I’d like to address before leaving, “can you embed a section or just copy it?” So, I see this question about copying a module, or copying a section, sorry. So, what you can do within Easygenerator, when you’re creating a course is that you can reuse existing sections. So instead of creating new sections, you can indeed reuse sections that you’ve created in the past. So, if you have created a course in the past, you can just reuse a section from it. Just bear in mind that they will be connected to one another.  


If you want to reuse only pages, you also can. If you have a content page that you’d like to reuse from one course to the other, you can always click on these three dots up here and you can either move or copy that page to another spot inside your current course or in any of your other courses that you’ve ever created. So that’s always something you can do to reuse the content.  


So, I think then all the questions have been answered. If you do have questions following this webinar, please remember we do have this chat option here. If you click on the green button, you can always get in touch with our team with any questions, so please feel free to reach out. And that concludes today’s session. So, thanks, everyone for joining. Thanks for those of you who have filled in the survey. And yeah, perhaps see you at the next webinar.