Microlearning is all about taking on information in small bites. A little bit of data here, a fact there, and overall you feel well-informed without bogging you down with too much information.
Also, it opens the door to excellent puns.
If you’ve seen infographics, Snapple caps, Facebook did-you-know images, or the sides of U-haul trucks, you’ve already seen microlearning in some form. You don’t need to use learning management software to teach everything—sometimes, the best lessons are shorter than an entire class.
But does it work for corporate or industrial education? It sure can, if you know how to do it. Follow these four tips and check out these offbeat tools that illustrate them best.
1. Go short. Really short.
First of all, they need to be short. It sounds obvious to the point of stupidity, but ask yourself: how long is too long for a micro-lesson? It’s a subjective art, but longer than ten minutes and you move into traditional lesson territory. Keep it to a bite-sized piece to avoid confusion.
Follow-up point: how short is too short? I’d say you could go as short as six seconds.
Consider Vine, a popular video sharing app with a catch. Just as Twitter is limited to 140 characters, Vine limited users to six second video clips. It sounds far too short to capture anything meaningful, but we all said the same thing about Twitter once. Watch a few Vines and you’ll realize just how much content can be crammed into that tiny frame.
Popular (and SFW) Vine artist Thomas Sanders is a great example of how to pack a message into six seconds.
Sadly, Vine was recently discontinued, but not for lack of popularity—it just wasn’t profitable. While this channel might be gone, don’t overlook its lessons: users and learners alike enjoy bite-sized informational bits.
Share a short, pithy bit of info to Facebook, and watch your audience tune in..
2. Ease of use is everything
Microlearning is designed to take little to no time away from the work your learners are doing in addition. If they have to struggle to navigate to their lessons, it defeats the purpose of the timeline. Having an easily embeddable video or image is a great quick-fix for this issue, because it makes your content more accessible in less time.
To this end, consider Youtube. You might already be creating video content, but have realized that uploading and embedding a video from your computer to the web, wanting it to run without needing constant software updates, trying to make it mobile accessible for both iOS and Android… Needless to say, all these updates can be a pain.
So why bother with any of that? Use Youtube instead. Just about every modern device (and a lot of devices still running older systems) can support it, and it handles all the problems of going mobile for you. If you’re concerned about security, having a private Youtube account with hidden, link-accessible-only videos will keep your videos safe from outside eyes. Just embed your video content and you’re done.
3. Make it fun
There’s no rule that says microlearning is inherently more fun than a full-length lesson, or that it must be enjoyable in some way. That said, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be, and it’s fairly easy to do.
Infographics cram a ton of actionable information into a small format, while keeping the learner entertained and engaged. They’re also highly effective. Look, I have an infographic that proves it!
If you want to create your own, consider a free infographic maker, like Venngage.
4. Put lessons everywhere
Integration into daily activities is something that microlearning does very well. It’s less obtrusive and demands less undivided attention than a traditional lesson, which helps it slide seamlessly into place with other, less educational activities.
With this in mind, consider using a not-so-serious image host for your microlearning images and videos. Instagram is an increasingly popular option, and it’s gaining enough traction that there’s even a #microlearning tag for people posting their own micro lessons.
It’s a great place to place those infographics and short videos, since it’s adaptable, mobile, and can sneak in a little learning even if your employees are slacking off checking their apps. Think of it as sneaking zucchini into brownies, almost undetectable, but with a pretty big nutritional benefit.
Is there another tool you’ve used in crafting your microlearning content? Another offbeat trick you’ve found to help get your lessons to your learners? Tell me all about it in the comments below.