It seems that everyone is talking about microlearning these days. We all see the power of offering learning content in shorter, bite-sized chunks. But then the big question is: How you actually do that? How do you execute on this fantastic idea so you can create learning materials that have an impact? We’ll share four strategies for creating microlearning that works.

Our experience with microlearning goes back several years, even before microlearning became a buzzword, and we’ve enjoyed helping countless clients address specific performance needs by using microlearning resources and programs. These are tips we share with our clients, and we hope you’ll find them helpful, too.

1. Define how you’ll use the microlearning asset

The first thing we recommend is actually figuring out how you will use the piece of microlearning. Microlearning can be used in four key ways:

If you aren’t clear on how your learning asset will be used, you will spin, trying to “go micro” without really knowing where to start or even how to evaluate if what you’re creating is likely to work. Take the time to determine which category you are trying to fill with your learning asset. We’ve found that these categories are critical because you will design the assets differently based on what you’re trying to achieve.

2. Identify a performance objective

Next, you must determine the objective for this piece. What learning or performance objective will you achieve?

Sometimes we are asked whether we really need an objective for a short microlearning asset. We always tell people you must have an objective—if you don’t have a reason for creating this content, then you do not need to build it.

A learning objective is fine, but where possible, a performance objective is best. Really push yourself to identify an actual learner behavior that you will impact. When you focus on performance, the learner (and the organization) will always find greater value in the materials you create.

3. Determine the best medium for the microlearning asset

A common misconception is that microlearning is always video—or always eLearning. But you should think more broadly. Microlearning can take any of these forms:

  • Text-based (like a paragraph in an email, a page on your social system, or a PDF)
  • eLearning
  • Video
  • Infographic
  • Podcast

When you consider microlearning broadly, it helps you to consider all the ways you can reach your learners and all the ways you can provide value to them. Which brings us to our final item …

4. Focus on the learners

Microlearning is about meeting the learners’ needs quickly, so they can get back to work. To be this learner-centered, you must consider the learners and their needs—who they are, what their typical day is like, and what they are likely to want from the learning experience.

When you focus on the learners and their needs, you can better create solutions that meet those needs. As you design the asset, continually ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the most critical things the learner needs right now?
  • Will the learner want to use time in their busy day for this?
  • Will the learner find this resource useful?

Certainly, there are topics that aren’t inherently learner-centered, such as the implementation of a new policy or a variety of compliance topics. But, as you approach your training, search for opportunities to make the topic as learner-focused as possible. Try to make the training about the learners and their needs. With every step of your design, ask yourself if you’re meeting those needs. We regularly do this with our microlearning, and it always helps.

Choose microlearning for the right reasons

One of the biggest reasons that microlearning efforts fail is because people decide to go micro to do the latest new thing; they focus on the seat time but don’t focus enough on the needs of the business or the learners. That results in content which is short but doesn’t use the learners’ time well. Irrelevant or ineffective learning will always frustrate your learners, regardless how short the piece is.

If you follow the four recommendations above, you are more likely to create microlearning resources that really make a difference for your learners. Instead of going micro just to say you’ve done it, you can say you went micro and it made a difference!

Become a microlearning master

Join us at DevLearn 2019 Conference & Expo, October 23–25 in Las Vegas, to learn more about creating microlearning that works. We’ll be teaching a full-day pre-conference workshop, “Create Effective Microlearning,” October 21, and leading a concurrent session, “Hype or Home Run? Microlearning Demystified for Learning Leaders,” October 23.