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Microlearning in Everyday Business

If you work in or near circles of instructional designers, course writers, and trainers then you've undoubtedly heard the latest buzzword in the business, microlearning. No, this does NOT refer to technical manuals in very small typeface . . . but I'd be happy to tell you all about what it does really mean.

Microlearning is a teaching approach that offers online education in short, quick bursts of information, providing the knowledge and skill sets that online courses typically offer - without overwhelming the learner.

Overwhelming? What's overwhelming? Hmmm, endless hours of training on technical topics just aren't for everyone. In fact, we're becoming a culture of people with shorter attention spans . . . when we have a problem or question, we want to search for an answer, find it on the spot, and move on to the next thing. Just like our burger and fries at the drive through window - we want it now!

When it comes to software training, microlearning involves teaching about the application in smaller steps, featuring short lessons, videos, and animations that are designed to explain one concept, one solution, one idea at a time. In the case of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application, rather than teaching the student everything there is to know about a complex subject all at once, we might create a number of smaller conceptual topics. So, instead of an 8-hour class on the Epicor ERP scheduling module, we create short courses that describe scheduling resources, capabilities, constraints, and finite capacities, and still other courses that show examples and application demonstrations of helpful scenarios. The learner can watch the pieces he or she needs on his or her timetable, and then rewatch content as necessary, skipping what is already known.

So how does this apply to you? 

You can apply the concepts of microlearning to any communication, announcement, or training need in your organization. Just stay within these guidelines:

Assign one learning “objective” per asset. Focus on ONE thing in your email, news article, or post. The more objectives you add, the longer the content, and the more likely you are to lose your audience.

  1. Use video. Over 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each minute. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. Video works, and people prefer it.
  2. Pay attention to your production quality. Don't distract your audience with audio that is hard to hear or video that confuses. Keep your message simple and clear. Bad video can take away from good content. 
  3. Watch the clock. Limit your content to 4 minutes or less if possible!

Presenting your material in these bite-sized chunks will help your audience to absorb it much more efficiently. It's an ideal solution for people on the go who are constantly bombarded with information. Each person has a limited amount of attention to devote to outside messages . . . make sure you grab what you need and hold onto it long enough to deliver your material.

Posted by Deb Amato, Sr. Technical Writer, Epicor


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