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Why you should be creating Microlearning and how to do it
Nov 30, 2021
45 minutes
Joni Tonnen
Head of Customer Success

Joni 0:00 — So, once again, welcome everyone, to this webinar on microlearning. Today we’re going to speak about why you should actually be using microlearning in your organization and how you can do it. So, some of the topics that we will go over: So, what is microlearning, actually? What are the different types of microlearning, and how to get started with easily creating microlearning? 


But before I dive into these topics, I’m really curious to hear from all of you. How much time do you think that employees have for training in a week, actually? I’m really curious to hear the thoughts of the group on this question. And we’ll be launching a poll for that so that you can easily insert your answer there so that we can have an idea of what everyone is thinking here. So, how much time do you think employees have for training in a week? So, there’s the option five hours, two hours or 24 minutes? Really curious what everyone is thinking there.  


Yeah, so I’m actually seeing that the bar of the 24 minutes is winning. And you’re all correct there. So indeed, if you look at an average working week of 40 hours, employees will have about 24 minutes a week to spend on training. And that’s not a lot, I think. So, when you calculate back, when you calculate that back to a day, that’s actually about five minutes per day. So, that’s exactly the reason why we’re all here today to learn more about microlearning — because this is really the type of learning that fits best with yet our modern day of working. 

What is Microlearning?

So, what is microlearning, then, exactly? Well, I think that most of you have heard of microlearning before, you probably have some sort of an interpretation of what it would mean. However, microlearning can actually mean a few different things. So, you could refer to microlearning as small learning units that support other learning activities to improve learning outcomes. But you could also refer to it as, for example, small learning units that solves the problem immediately and supports the worker to do the job without interruption. And in this case, you would probably also know it as workplace or performance support. So, the key here is that there’s not one way to describe a microlearning. There are several interpretations of it. And today, we’re going to look at the most common areas in which you can apply microlearning. 


So, these are those common areas that I want to talk with you about today. So, the first area is using microlearning in the context of a learning event. Then secondly, we’re going to speak about microlearning as autonomous learning. So how could you use microlearning as standalone trainings? And then thirdly, how can you then use it as performance support?  


But of course, the defining factor of microlearning is that it should be short. So, in all of the applications that we will discuss today, what is key, what’s essential is that microlearning should, of course, be short. As short as possible. Now, what is then short? As a rule of thumb, you can think about seven to 10 minutes. That’s short enough. Your learner can quickly go over that. So, even shorter, perfect, it’s possible. But the key is to not go over those 10 minutes per learning.  


This also means that microlearning is not the solution to all your training needs, right? You will have training needs that require more training, training needs that have a steeper learning curve. So, for debts, microlearning is not suitable. So, microlearning is not the answer to everything. But it’s a really good solution for a percentage of your learning needs. And we’re also going to speak about that today where it then fits in well.  

Benefits of Microlearning

When you do have the opportunity to use microlearning, there are a few key benefits to microlearning. And the first one here is that microlearning really improves retention. And the reason for that is that, because microlearning is short, your learner’s will actually stay attentive throughout the entire course, which helped them to retain that knowledge. So, you probably know that feeling, if you are in an online meeting have an hour, towards the end of that hour, your focus is actually going to drop off. So, when you think about microlearning, that won’t happen because the microlearning is short, right? So, it improves the retention.  


It’s also much more approachable for learners. It’s difficult to find 30 minutes in your day to spend on learning, but five to 10 minutes, you can probably find. And when you started, you are also more likely to actually complete it, because it’s only a short training. So more approachable and higher completion rates with microlearning. It can also be easily created and updated. Actually, one of our clients once said, “create it quickly and consume it quickly,” and I really like that saying. So, microlearning is short, so it’s super easy to create. And also, it’s also super easy to maintain that content.  


And then lastly, it’s more compatible with mobile learning. So, you could even follow microlearning when you’re in the train going home from work on your tablet or mobile phone. So, when you’re learning need is suitable for microlearning, these are some of the key benefits of microlearning.  


Now let’s talk about those three common application areas that I talked about earlier.  


Use case 1: Microlearning in the context of a learning event 


So, we can start off with the first one — in the context of a learning events. So, microlearning can be used in the context of a learning event. And in this application, a learning event could for example, be an e-learning with more context, or for example, a face-to-face training, live webinar, or a workshop. So, that learning event really represents the larger, more time-intensive training or workshop. And you can then use microlearning either in preparation of this event, or after this event. 


Joni 7:28 — When you use microlearning for preparation for an event, you could, for example, use it to highlight some of the key points of the event and then have learners actually take the microlearning before they go to the actual learning event. When you go back perhaps to your school days, you might remember that’s typically, the classroom was actually used to receive information from your teacher. So, you were all in a classroom there, getting that information sent your way from your teacher, and then you would all go home and actually put the information that you’ve gathered during the classroom training at home by means of homework. So, you would only put it into practice at home.  


Now, some of you might be familiar with the flipped classroom concept, which is a concept in which you’re actually turning this around. So, instead of going to a classroom first to get all the information and to then go home to put it into practice, you will actually get the information before you go to the classroom, the learning event. And you’ll actually use the learning event to put what you have learned into practice. So, that when you are practicing the information that you’ve gathered, you are in that learning event. So, you can actually speak to some of your peers that can help you out or speak to a trainer or a teacher that could help you with any hurdle that you come across.  


Well, a similar setting can be achieved when you use microlearning in the context of a learning event. So, you could actually share some of the information prior to the event and then really leverage the event to put it into practice. So, when you use microlearning in this way, you’re actually doing it to get more out of that learning event. 


Now you can also use microlearning for follow up of an event. And when you use microlearning in this way, you do it because you really want to reinforce the knowledge retention.  


So, there’s an image here on the slide that is representing our forgetting curve. So, actually what you see there is that most of the knowledge that we consume once we very easily forget. So we actually have to build in repetitions to make sure that the knowledge that we consume will actually stick. So, when you use microlearning, after a learning event, you could actually use that microlearning to reintroduce or to repeat some of the learnings of that learning event, so that you know for sure that that’s a knowledge is going to stick with your learners, and they’re not going to forget about it. So again, when you use microlearning in this setup, you’re also doing it to get more out of that learning event that you organized. 


Joni 10:42 — So, what could that then look like? So, it could look like something like this. So, you could have one or even two microlearnings prior to that main learning events. You can have that main learning event, which could be again, a workshop, face-to-face training. And then you could have one, two, or even three microlearnings post the event to reinforce that knowledge retention.  


And typically, this will then also represent a blended approach, which is also really good for diversity, and hence, knowledge retention. So that would be the first use case, you can use microlearning in the context of a learning event. And as I move along to the second application, just to reiterate, we do have Meghan in the chat. So, if you do have any questions, you can drop them in the in the Q&A, she will be able to help you out there.  


Use case 2: Microlearning as autonomous learning 


So, yeah, going to the to the second application here, using microlearning as autonomous learning. Now, for some of your learning needs, you might not need a learning event, right? So, you might not always be teaching on a completely new concept that requires a larger workshop or live webinar. So, some of your training needs, you might be able to solve with microlearning as autonomous learning. You could do that with one microlearning. Or you could create a series of microlearning that you can then space out to your learner over time.  


What’s really key when you’re using microlearning in this approach is that you do actually break it up into several little microlearning so that you do not wrap all the information that you wanted to share with your learner in one big course and send it over to them. Because if you work in that way, you actually lose some of those benefits that microlearning will give to you. It being that short learnings will stick better because people stay attentive throughout the entire learning, and to build in some of those repetitions, right? So, you get one microlearning and week one, then two weeks later, you get a little repetition of what you’ve learned and some new insights. And then a few weeks later, again, a little repetition and some new insights.  


So, when you use microlearning as an autonomous learning, and you want to create multiple microlearnings to attend to one training needs, it’s really important that you spaced them out over time, otherwise, that would defeat the purpose of microlearning. And you will get people that will go over them all at once.  


Looking at this, when you look at using microlearning in this way, a tip is to look into a Learning Experience Platform (LXP), for example, because those are platforms that really facilitate this type of learning well. You can create learning paths really easily in those type of systems. 


Use case 3: Microlearning as performance support 


Joni 14:01 — And then, thirdly, you can use microlearning as performance support. So really, to help people on the job during the job itself. So, the goal of using microlearning as performance support is really to share just-in-time information — to solve problems and apply them while on the job. So, I’ve got an image here on the right side to talk you through this, which might look which might look a little bit daunting at the start, but we’re going to walk over this together.  


So, what you can see on the left side is the training stage. And typically, when your learner is in the training stage, it’s when they are learning about a completely new concept. And in that stage, the learning curve of your learner is relatively steep. So, this is probably not a stage in which you would want to be using microlearning. This is one of the stages in which you would require a learning event — an e-learning bit more context or perhaps a workshop.  


But once your learners have gone through this learning curve, they will probably start to apply what they’ve learned on the job. So, they will start to practice and actually apply the knowledge that they felt that they’ve gained. And at some point, they will reach on-the-job competence, so they can do their job. When that happens, they are probably going to look to innovate their ways, or there are some new problems that are appearing that are new that needs solving. And that is when you actually get into that last stage of “sustain.” And this is also the state in which microlearning fits in particularly well. Because this is a stage in which you do not need to learn about a completely new concept. But you do really want to innovate your ways and require new skills to make you even better at what you’re doing already.  


Typically, when learners are in this stage – so they have on the job competence – they also don’t really want to spend 30 to 40 minutes anymore on training per day. They would really want to focus on doing their job and then get new information immediately when they need it. So, you might recognize that feeling when you want to Google something, so you really want to quickly get access to the solution. And this is where microlearning fits in really well. 


So, when you use microlearning in this area, there are a few shapes and forms in which you could create it. So, the first one here, you could for example, think of a how-to guide, so a clear step-by-step instruction for completing a job. You could think of creating a checklist or instructions, so detailed outlines to complete a specific job guideline. A general overview of processes to abide by. Or you could, for example, create an overview of Frequently Asked Questions and then common responses to that. So, these are just the different shapes and forms in which you could find microlearning in this area. 

Examples of Microlearning

So, these are the three applications for microlearning. I’ve presented them to you as three, independent applications. But there is of course, also the possibility to combine different applications with each other as well. Just to go over a few examples of what microlearning could then look like – and I will also later on switch to Easygenerator and show you how you can actually build this – but just to give you an idea of what some of the microlearning could look like.  


So, what you see in front of you now is actually an example of a how-to guides on how to write a sales pitch. So, this is microlearning because it’s a one pager and it just entails five simple steps that your learner can go over. Your learner can probably consume this within five to 10 minutes. And this is suitable for someone who is familiar with what a sales pitch is, but just wants help on creating one really well the moment that he is intending to create one. So, this is an example of a microlearning. 


Another example here is, for example, this quick checklist on how to request vacation days. Some of you might know from your own experience that certain HR systems are not all that easy to use. So, you might need a little checklist to know how to request those vacation days. And this is really a quick and easy guide to go through those steps. This can be used as a standalone microlearning. But it could actually also be combined with a learning event. So it could be that you, for example, created a larger e-learning that you send out to all new staff members that walks them over a bigger introduction of your company. And that checklist can actually be part of it. So, it could be that your learners have already consumed this the moment that they started at your company, but that they can actually pull it up at a later moment, again, when they really actually need to request those vacation days. Because hopefully, on their first day, they won’t be worried about requesting those vacation days.  


So, this is an example of how you can actually embed microlearning into a learning event so that you can actually combine some of the methods – some of the applications that we’ve that we’ve talked about today. 

How to create Microlearning

Joni 20:37 — So I’ve explained what microlearning is, and the different ways of how you could actually be applying it. But I also want to talk today about how you can get started on microlearning. And one of the first questions that pops into my head when you think about how to get started is to question: who is responsible for creating microlearning? Now, if you if you are part of a central L&D team, or you work in a company that has a central L&D team, you might fill in that question with the answer, “well, our L&D team should be responsible for this because they are creating content.”  


If you work in that way, the process will look similar to what you see on the screen right now. So, you’ll have instructional designers that are responsible for content creation, who will then need to get the information, the knowledge from the subject matter experts in the business, to then convert that knowledge to a microlearning. Now, the process in which those instructional designers have to go to those subject matter experts to get that knowledge will actually take quite some time, right? Typically, there’s a reviewing process in place in which subject matter experts need to check if all their information is converted to the training correctly. And once that process is done, the content will actually get reintroduced into the business. 


Now, when you work in this way, you will see that this approach is relatively time consuming. And that’s actually a shame. If I go back to that saying that I liked so much about, “create it quickly, consume it quickly,” when we talk about creating a course that will only that will be consumed in five to 10 minutes. It’s a shame to spend so much time on the creation process because that process between the instructional designer and the subject matter expert can take up a lot of time.  


Now, time is money. So doing it in this way, will also make that this resource will actually be relatively expensive for the short learning that it represents. And it’s much more difficult to maintain because every time something changes in the in the content, you’d have to go through that same process in which the subject matter expert needs to speak with the instructional designer and the back and forth needs to be there before that update can be made. 


So, that initial question that I asked, who is responsible for creating microlearning, we would actually answer that differently. We would say that you would want to leave the knowledge where it is and enable subject matter experts to create microlearning themselves. When you do that, you are looking at this approach here in which the subject matter expert has access to a tool with which they can create microlearning easily themselves. They have the knowledge on the topic, so they don’t have to first transfer their knowledge to anyone else, they can just directly work to create an e-learning. In that process, they can, of course, be supported by instructional designers, which can give them some guidance on what is like didactically sound and how can you make sure that the microlearning would be effective.  


But by leaving the knowledge where it is and enabling people to create content, who actually have that knowledge themselves, you significantly speed up the process. So, if we then go to these three elements, again, we will see that with this approach, it is much quicker to create microlearning. So, you can really tap into those dynamic needs that you have within the business quickly and just in time. You also significantly reduced the cost for the training materials, and it becomes much more easy to maintain them because whenever a subject matter expert realizes that some of the content that he created is out of date outdated, he can actually then go back and make adjustments themselves. And typically, it’s also the subject matter experts who would know that content is outdated. So it’s actually really easy to then also put the responsibility of updating the content with this same subject matter expert. 

Easygenerator demonstration

Joni 25:30 — Okay, so now over to the practical side of things. So, how can you then create microlearning? So, for that, I will actually switch over to Easygenerator, and I’ll show you around how easy it is to actually create some of that micro content yourself. 


So, if all is well everyone can now see my Easygenerator screen — I see Meghan nodding, so that’s a good sign. So, this is my Easygenerator screen. And in Easygenerator, you can actually create courses and resources. And I wanted to start off today with creating resources because those are typically handy to use when it comes to microlearning. So, when you go to Resources in Easygenerator, you can easily click here to create a new one. And you’ll get two options here. So, you’ll be able to create a checklist or a how-to guide. And I’m going to start off with showing you how to create an how to guide here. 


So, for the purpose of today, I’m actually going to use one of the ready-made templates that we have in the tool. You can of course also start from scratch and build one from the ground up. But we do have a lot of templates available as well to make it super easy for you to get started. So, I’m going to use the template that we have here. So. how to create a community in Teams. So, I’m just going to open that one up. So, as you can see here, that framework that we saw in some of the examples earlier, is laid down for you already. So, you have the opportunity to start off with an introduction. So, what is the purpose of this how-to guide, you can then go into several steps, which you could leave as short as this or you can provide more context here. 


And then, with every step, you can actually build out the information that you would like to add. You could make it interactive, you can drop in a video, so you could use any of the layout formats that we have here on the left side to build out that how-to guide.  


Now, whenever you’re building something, I would always recommend to use this button a lot. It’s our Preview button, which basically allows you to actually see what a learner would see if you were to send out this resource to them. So, I just clicked preview, and this is, this is the template that I have opened at the moment. As you can see here on the top as well, you can actually see what this resource would look like on different devices. So, with Easygenerator, everything scales automatically. So, you do not have to worry yourself scaling your content that’s not needed. But it is nice for you, of course to see, especially with microlearning, like, hey, when a learner actually consumes this on their mobile phone, is it not too text heavy? And is it easy for them to consume it? 


Another recommendation that I would have here on the microlearning site is that whenever you preview, you could actually also go over the course yourself as if you were a learner. And this could help you to, for example, time and see how long it actually takes to go over the content that you’ve inserted. So, you could, for example, see, okay, this actually will take me five minutes, perfect. It’s suitable for microlearning. And obviously if it takes you 20 minutes, then you need to be more critical about what content you actually need to share with your learners. 


Joni 30:04 — Now, I also want to show you how you can create a micro course and Easygenerator. But perhaps before I do, Meghan, were there any questions in the chat on creating anything here on the resource sites that I should go over? 


Meghan 30:18 — Yes, there was actually a question that could be interesting. The question was, do we need an LMS (Learning Management System) to share the microlearning and track progress or completion? Or if that can be done via Easygenerator as well? 


Joni 30:31 — Yeah, great question. So here on the Publish tab, we can see how you can actually distribute these resources. So, you can actually create a quick link. And you can easily share that with learners. So, you could do that over email, you could post that somewhere on a platform that you have, that learners have access to. But all they need would be this link to get access to the resource, you could also post this link on a Learning Management System, if you would want learners to access it that way.  


Now, I will say that these resources do not have progress tracking included, because they are really meant for performance support, so to give value to the learner at the moment that they really need it to perform their job better. So it could be that someone is actually using this how-to Guides every day for a period of four days, because they are building that community. So, there’s no progress saving with this. It’s really meant  as a guideline – as a as a help – for the learner at the time they need it. Perfect. Any other questions there before I move on? 


Meghan 31:47 — Not at this time, no. Okay, 


Joni 31:49 — Perfect. Then I’ll dive into how to create a micro course, because that’s also an option, of course. So, in Easygenerator, you can create a new course. So, I can click here to do so. And then you get three different options on how to create one. So, you could actually go from a template again, like we did with the resource. Or you can actually import a PowerPoint as a starting point, if you do have existing PowerPoint materials, you can quickly get them in and then start to build from there. But I’ll start from scratch for this one. 


And then when we when we end up here in the first stage in the Create stage, we can see that the structure of the microlearning is already laid out for us. So, we know that we have to insert an introduction, then we have to go in with sections, which will be content and questions. And then we can also close with a study advisor next step.  


So, to start off with the course introduction, because there’s an important element here when you create microlearning. And that would be to make sure that your introduction, which is the very first thing that your learner would see, would actually include that study time that you have in mind. When a learner opens a course, they might not know how long they need in order to complete it. And the key benefit of microlearning is that it would only take them a couple of minutes to actually finalize– complete that course.  


So, you do want to make sure that it’s really visible for them that, hey, this is a short course that you can go over in a couple of minutes. So, I could explain, you know, the purpose of this course, and then the study time. So, this is really important, make sure that you always in the introduction of your micro course, include how long your learner will take to go over this. 


Once you have that, you can actually start with building your microlearning. So, we can actually go in with an initial section. And this section basically represents a chapter of your course. So, you can add in one, two, three, or four chapters that will then all entail content and questions.  


Now, you might think, it’s microlearning so, I can only add in, you know, one or two, two chapters. To be honest, you don’t have to sacrifice on the number of chapters that you include, because the chapters itself don’t cost extra time for your learner. So, you can actually, in a five-minute training have three chapters. As long as you keep the content and the questions that you add to each chapter to a minimum, those chapters will still be really relevant because they provide structure to your learner. So, I wouldn’t sacrifice on the number of sections chapters that you are adding into your course. but really think critically about the content and questions that you would want to add to these. 


Joni 35:14 — So once I have that built up, I can then insert content and questions. And I wanted to share a tip with you all today on how you can then ensure that you don’t overload your learner with too much information because that’s a really common pitfall. And remember, microlearning needs to be short, so you only have seven to 10 minutes. So, it’s difficult to be critical enough to actually keep it to that timestamp. So, I’ve got a tip for you all, to actually reach that. And that is to always start off with a learning objective.  


When you create a learning objective for your chapter, you force yourself to think about what is it that you really want your learner to be able to do or to know after this initial chapter. So, that’s the first step. When you can, when you are familiar with creating learning objectives, you can of course, just throw one in here. But if you’re new to it, we do have a really easy tool included that can help you create a learning objective. So, when you open that up, you can see that there are three steps here. So, who is this microlearning meant for, who’s your target audience? What is it that you want them to learn or to be able to do after they’ve gone over this section? And under what circumstances conditions should they be able to do it?  


And when you go through these three, easy steps, you will have a perfect learning objective connected to your chapter that will also be visible for your learner so that they know what’s expected of them. So, step one, always create a learning objective. And you will do this for each chapter that you create.  


Now, once you have that learning objective created, you might think well now is the time that I will go in with my content. But it’s actually not yet the time to go in with your content. So now that you have your learning objective, you want to think about how you can actually measure if this learning objective is met by learners. And you can do so of course, with the help of questions. Questions do take time to be answered. But they also create a level of interactivity and they really help with knowledge retention. So, I would recommend to also not sacrifice on questions and make sure that you put in a few questions to create that interactive element for your microlearning.  


So, I could then go in and for example, ask a multiple-choice question and an open question in this initial section. And once you have done that, so once you’ve thought about the questions that you want to include to measure that learning objective, that would be the moment where you can go in with the content, and only the content that would be relevant for your learner to go over in order to answer those questions. So here in this stage, you should be really critical and think about okay, is it really necessary for my learner to go over this content in order to answer those questions?  


And when you follow that process – so step one, learning objective, step two, thinking about the questions, the assessment to measure it, and step three, the content – you will see that naturally, you will be creating much more relevant and shorter courses. Any questions here on the creation of a micro course, Meghan, that I can still go over?  

Live Q&A

Meghan 38:56 — The only question was also on embedding a course into a website. So, whether that would be an intranet or a company’s website specifically, would you mind just showing what that option is? 


Joni 39:09 — Yeah, of course. So, in the Publish tab here, you have the ability to publish your course in several formats. And one of them would be to create an embed code here that you can actually embed in a different platform or website.  


I just wanted to quickly mention that if anyone here in the group is interested in receiving a more elaborate demo of Easygenerator, there is a possibility and Meghan will drop that into the chat right now. There is a possibility to actually request a more elaborate demo in which we can also zoom in, into your personal needs more.