Leveraging Micro Learning

If you are a learning professional, chances are that you have reviewed literature around micro learning, byte sized learning, chunking, drip feed learning and various other buzz words. 

These are describing the emerging trend of engaging learners through short content assets i.e. videos, PDFs, infographics, podcasts and assessments.

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This need is also fuelled by the research on the modern learner that invariably throws up alarming statistics on attention spans, the new learning landscape and the learner taking charge of their own learning by leveraging content from MOOCs, YouTube, blogs and a host of other open source platforms.

There are blogs galore that define trends around micro learning and a Twitter or Google search will throw up enough use cases. There is also an active vendor community pushing micro learning as the magic bullet that solves all business problems and deliver a tangible return on investment.

Most learning professionals believe that there is now a compelling reason to embrace this trend. Like with most trends in learning, there is also fog screen that accompanies micro learning experience: where to start, what to do, sustainability, overall fit of micro learning within the broader learning strategy etc. Here are some things to watch out for as you progress on this journey:

Put together a content asset inventory

Think of all possible types of byte-sized content as assets and take stock of all that’s contextual to your environment. As an example, short videos or podcasts are great places to start for a distributed workforce. Flash card based games, simulations and short e-learning could work with a captive audience or sometimes even with a distributed workforce in a specific context.

Leverage consumer authoring platforms

If you use an LMS, chances are that you have an authoring tool that came bundled with it. Most authoring tools enable you to author SCORM compliant content for a multi device environment. The challenge being that this approach may limit you to authoring conventional elearning modules that can be accessed on mobile devices.

Leveraging consumer authoring platforms can help you mitigate this linear approach. Think consumer apps like: Videoscribe for creating whiteboard animation style videos; Animoto for picture based collages; Windows Movie Maker for editing user generated video content; Tawe for voice based sketchnotes and images; Piktochart for infographics etc.

This approach gives you the flexibility to use a variety of tools without the limitation of being stuck to any one particular platform and its capabilities.

Marry micro learning and mobile

Identify platforms that will host micro learning assets. Micro learning makes for a strong use case for launching or driving mobile learning. Consider launching a mobile learning app that enables learners to consume these content assets anytime, anywhere and on any device.

Mobile apps also allow the learners to consume the content assets offline and this can be a differentiator, especially when data and bandwidth are possible challenges you are working through.

Leverage micro learning for performance support

From an add-on to the mainstay of learning is how we can describe the evolution of performance support. Mobility, managed search and enterprise-level micro-blogging are key tools that facilitate micro learning in the context of performance support.

Think of micro learning as a powerful driver of peer-to-peer interactions, social competition, and content assets. If you have an enterprise social network, then encouraging micro blogs could be one way to promote just in time performance support to the learners.

The bottom-line is that you do not limit the value of micro learning to just byte-sized content.

Structure micro-learning around assessments

You can provide more structure to your micro learning assets by structuring their release around pre-decided assessments in a month.

Use the content assets to deliver a body of knowledge and then run quizzes/assessments to test the understanding of the learner. This also enables the learner to link his performance in the assessments to content she may have consumed over the course of the month.

This approach also encourages the leaner to revisit/pull some of the content when they need it.

Speed of learning

With more organisations embracing the modern learning landscape, micro learning presents an interesting opportunity to improve the speed of sharing media rich content and make the learning immersive.


About the author 

Sunder Ramachandran is Head of Training at Pfizer India. He can be reached on Twitter: @sundertrg 


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