Gone are the days when employees could devote long hours to training programs. Now is the fast-age, mobile devices are in the driving seat and everyone is immersed in their digital life. In this era as time becomes more valuable, exchange of information has to be quicker. It is only natural that digital learning mediums also evolve with the changing times. Microlearning has taken the helm in this pursuit of fast but effective knowledge. But what really makes digital learning ‘micro’? Does any short online module qualify as microlearning? This post discusses the distinguishing characteristics of microlearning:
The characteristics of microlearning:
- Short duration
- Focus on a single learning objective
- Being independent, and part of a whole
- Having interactive elements
- Responsive nature
The Must-Have Characteristics of Microlearning
1. Short duration
As the name suggests, the first characteristic that makes any digital learning ‘micro’ is its short duration. Microlearning modules are designed for learners who cannot spare more than a few minutes at a time for learning and skill development. Keeping the duration short enables users to quickly gain knowledge and make the most of the little spare time they might have.
As microlearning is largely accessed from mobile devices, keeping the duration crisp keeps the learner engaged even on devices with limited screen sizes. A short module means that learners are more motivated to undertake the training as they can learn a useful skill or gain some important knowledge quickly, at the moment of need.
2. Focus on a single learning objective
A short duration really limits the amount of information that can be conveyed through a course. But microlearning uses this limitation to its advantage. Short modules are designed so as to cover just one learning objective. A single learning objective keeps the micro module more focused on providing learners quantifiable learning outcomes. Instead of doing a lot of things haphazardly, a single learning objective allows microlearning to do just one thing optimally.
When the training has to convey for e.g., instructions to operate an equipment or the safety procedure to be followed during an operation, it is best to have a single learning objective to boost knowledge transfer and retention. This also gives eLearning developers greater creative freedom while designing the module as they have to worry about lesser parameters.
3. Microlearning is independent, even if part of whole
One of the reasons microlearning works so well is because of its standalone nature. Microlearning modules do a great job of delivering a particular lesson independently. A true micro-module is self-sufficient and does not require learners to have studied any preceding sessions. Even if some portions of the module require additional information, which cannot be part of the module, external links and references can be provided to the learners.
That being said, a microlearning module can never exist on its own due to its small size. This means it can never convey an entire topic on its own, and it will always be part of a larger e-learning course. But since it is self-sufficient, the same micro module can be used in any course that might have the micro topic under its curriculum.
4. Have interactive elements
As microlearning keeps learners engaged for a shorter duration, it is loaded with interactive elements. Interactivity allows your learners to apply what they’ve learned, which helps them commit information to their long-term memory. Instead of just passively reading about the subject matter or watching an e-learning video, interactive elements serve as an active form of online training.
Simulations, drag-and-drop interactions, e-learning games, and clickable walkthroughs all can be a part of your microlearning module that gives your learners the chance to put their knowledge and skills into practice. It also provides immediate feedback, enabling them to correct performance behaviors on the spot. They can even repeat the activity when the need arises, to perfect their problem-solving approach.
5. Microlearning is designed to work on multiple devices (responsive)
Due to its short duration and engaging nature, learners access microlearning modules from multiple devices. Whenever learners get a little free time on their hands they use their smartphones, tablets, and laptops to access the course, irrespective of their location. One of the most important technical aspects a microlearning module has to fulfill is its ability to work on multiple devices.
Using a responsive design approach is the best way to ensure your course works flawlessly across any device of any size and functionality. A responsive course adapts its elements and optimizes the display according to the screen size in use. Thus, every member of your audience will receive the same experience from your digital micro-training course. Responsive design is ideal for microlearning because it delivers mobile-ready online training content giving learners unmatched flexibility.
Keep these characteristics in mind while developing your microlearning modules. Give your learners the freedom to learn from anywhere and anytime with the right microlearning strategy.