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Designing Microlearning Modules – A Few Lessons from Hollywood

Many e-learning designers believe the short spans of micro-learning modules are the panacea for all learner engagement issues. While it is true that learners are more engaged with short courses, online course designers need to focus on certain other aspects such as an interesting beginning, visuals, audio effects, narrative, and the use of technology. This post lists 5 Hollywood blockbusters that e-learning designers can draw inspiration from.

Movie #1: GoldenEye

Lesson: Begin the micro-learning module with an icebreaker.

GoldenEye, one of the most successful Hollywood movies, has an action-filled beginning. This serves two purposes – pulling the audiences into the movie instantly and setting the stage for things to come.

Designers of micro-learning modules can adopt a similar approach. They can begin the bite-sized learning module with a video to “get learners into the groove”. One of our clients in the petrochemical space began a micro-learning module on fire safety with a 60 second video that depicted the destruction caused by an industrial fire, and this resulted in high levels of learner engagement.

Movie #2: Ice Age

Lesson: Use animated characters in micro-learning modules.

Ice Age, one of the highest grossing animated movies in the history of Hollywood, showed computer-generated animations can be as engaging as “living” characters. The resounding success of this movie busted the myth that animations are not well-received by adult audiences.

Micro-learning designers too need to make the best use of animated characters (avatars) to make their courses interesting. In one of our bite-sized courses on supply chain management, we used the avatar of an ant to take learners through the course which was a big hit.

Ice Age

Movie #3: Jaws

Lesson: Make the best use of sound effects to provide cues to learners.

This Hollywood thriller is known for its highly effective use of sound effects. The music in this movie kept audiences stimulated telling them, “Watch out, something’s going to happen.”

There is no reason why designers of micro-learning modules should not use similar sound effects to keep learners excited throughout the course. One of our clients in the healthcare sector used the sound of an ambulance very effectively in their bite-sized course to indicate the arrival of a patient.

Movie #4: Catch Me If You Can

Lesson: Ensure your micro-learning course has a solid narrative.

This highly successful Hollywood biographical movie proved the importance of a strong narrative. The narrative succinctly exposed the context of the movie, which played a key role in making it an all time hit.

Similarly, designers of e-learning nuggets need to ensure their course “flows” smoothly to ensure high levels of learner engagement. It is a good idea to prepare a detailed outline of the learning content, as it helps you find out gaps in the content, if any, and fill them effectively.

Movie #5: Avatar

Lesson: Harness the full potential of technology to make highly engaging courses.

Avatar set new standards for the use of technology in Hollywood. The movie used state-of-the-art technologies such as motion capturing, which left audiences captivated.

Likewise, micro-learning designers need to make the best use of technology to make courses that hook learners to screens. For instance, designers can build an engaging gamified course using Articulate Storyline 2. Also, designers can go in for tools such as GoAnimate which enable the development of good video-based micro-learning modules. Check out this interesting bite-sized course developed using GoAnimate.

It takes much more than the short duration of microlearning courses to engage online learners effectively. Micro-learning designers need to begin their courses with an icebreaker. They need to make good use of animated characters to make the courses interesting. It is important to use

sound effects effectively to provide cues to learners. Designers of bite-sized online courses need to focus on ensuring a strong narrative and making the best use of technology. Hope you liked this post. Would you like to add to this list of inspiring Hollywood movies? Please do so.