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microlearning

Microlearning: the Basics, Benefits & 5 Powerful Tips for First-timers

Microlearning is being embraced by organisations increasingly. If you are new to microlearning, how do you go about it safely and confidently.

This article aims at giving you a clear direction to get microlearning right the first time…as well as each time thereafter!

Let’s make it easy for those new to microlearning with the right set of questions, benefits and tips.

Why is microlearning a must-have? Today’s fast-paced learners want learning that’s relevant, quick and fun. Short bursts of microlearning can cater to any industry be it manufacturing or service oriented. Microlearning caters to all functions be it production/operations/IT, finance, marketing & sales, supply chain & distribution, purchasing, logistics, HR, PR & legal, R&D, purchasing, customer service, administrative and so on. Microlearning snippets serves the 4 major training purposes viz. to supplement, reinforce, augment, or remediate learning. This makes it a must-have!

What makes it work? Well, the secret to making it work depends a lot on having a good & robust microlearning platform that makes life easier for trainers, learners and management. Plus, the very nature of microlearning approach enables a learner. Small and quick lessons fit very well into today’s learner’s busy lives. Microlearning can apply to any function where training needs to be done quickly, effectively, in a short span of time, and without being boring. This makes it work!

The problem: Not everyone is comfortable using microlearning and its tech-platforms. For users (learners) it is certainly much easier to use, but for trainers it isn’t easy to implement microlearning initiatives. As trainers, you need to feel confident adopting the microlearning approach, and have a microlearning platform that makes your life easier and manageable!

To do that, you need to understand what microlearning does, and how get the most out of it.

Let’s explore the basics followed by five powerful tips to make microlearning work for you…

Microlearning: the Basics

For effective microlearning lessons, you break down your topics of interest into short, standalone units. Once that’s done, you need to arrive at the Key Learning Points (KLPs) for each microlearning snippet. This is akin to setting-up learning objectives for each microlearning lesson. Thereafter, you decide upon the approach, design, tools and content to make your lesson.

A good microlearning platform is a must-have to make life easier for you. It does 3 important things for you:

  • Creating content using both in-house and external sources with the help of AI,
  • Enabling personalized learning, including fun elements like games, based on what each learner wants and needs, and,
  • making it easy to keep track of learning goals of each learner on real-time basis.

Microlearning works when skills get enhanced, errors and lapses get contained, and your workforce is genuinely happy to learn.

Top management also is more than happy to see a transformed/superior workforce with microlearning implemented right! Join our webinar to know more…

How Microlearning Benefits Learners

Microlearning is based on important principles like spaced repetition, retrieval practice, proven learning theories and best practices.

Microlearning becomes fast, fun and effective when its backed by a strong microlearning platform that’s enabled by AI, analytics and adaptive learning capabilities.

Benefits of microlearning benefits for learners:

  • Learners can conveniently access these lessons on their mobile phones or other work devices (like POS machines or laptops) for learning anytime and anywhere.
  • Learning is made enjoyable through interactive elements such as gamification, including scores, rewards, levels, badges, leaderboards, and more.
  • Short assessments and quizzes within the lessons engage learners, help reinforce what they’ve learned, and combat the tendency to forget things over time.

Your microlearning assets like videos, animations, gamification, short simulations, podcasts etc. provide learners with ample opportunities for practice.

No wonder, microlearning is favored by learners for it’s convenience, accessibility and real-life work assistance.

How Microlearning Benefits an Organization

The benefits are immense:

  • Fosters a culture of learning. Job competencies of workforce turns into a big strength.
  • Automatic reduction in operational, strategic, and tactical risks to a business.
  • Senior management gets sustainable and instant results. That’s great for a terrific  Training ROI.
  • It cuts down on learning asset development costs and speeds-up the development process.
  • Boosts the acceptance of learning by learners.
  • Managers and supervisors are happy as microlearning doesn’t take away their team for long training sessions.
  • Supporting global training in diverse organizations becomes so much easier by creating culture-specific microlessons and translating them into various languages.

5 Powerful Tips to Implementing Microlearning Confidently

microlearning

Once you know the basics of microlearning, you need to pay extra attention on the 5 things given below to get microlearning right…

  1. Defining your KLPs or Learning Objectives for Each Lesson

Your microlearning efforts should align with the overall learning and development goals of the organization.

Each microlearning lesson needs to focus on a specific learning objective, resulting in Key Learning Points (KLPs). These KLPs can relate to behavior change, skill development, knowledge transfer, memory building, improved decision-making, on-the-job expertise, and more.

However, before diving into learning objectives, it’s crucial to establish a well-defined microlearning strategy using proven training model of ADDIE.

Separately, knowing your KLPs puts you on a strong footing in effectively reinforcing your microlearning content.

2. Understanding Your Learners’ Profile

Having a clear understanding of your audience is crucial for tailoring content to their specific competencies and needs. It’s all about finding the perfect match!

With this, you get a firm understanding of what motivates your learners in creating inspiring microlearning assets.

Understanding how each learner grasps information, what they need to learn (domain, skill, or information), and their individual capacity for handling complexity allows us to align our microlearning lessons with each learner’s profile.

In simpler terms, our lessons should align with what each learner can comfortably handle.

So, ask yourself, “Will the content, design, and format genuinely assist the learner in achieving the learning objective?” If not, it’s essential to reassess our entire strategy. Besides, storyboarding becomes easy when you know who your learners are!

Plus, getting the design format right too gets easier while creating games in your gamification efforts.

Above all else, a clarity of your learner profile helps you write engaging content as you create your microlearning assets like videos, gamification, short sims, podcasts etc. with a production mindset.

3. Going with a Robust Microlearning Platform

The microlearning platform and design format work well together. A good platform goes beyond the perils of forgetting curve, and instead increases your workforces’ core competencies at work!

A good microlearning platform needs to function like a proficient assistant, making things easy for you. Here are some questions to consider before you procure you microlearning platform:

  • Does the microlearning platform meet your needs?
  • Can it help you create content quickly?
  • Does it have an AI-powered authoring tool to generate content from both in-house and external sources?
  • Can the microlearning platform personalize learning using adaptive algorithms?
  • Do you have staff and instructional designers who can effectively use it?
  • Is your IT and training staff equipped to handle the creation of microlearning assets such as videos, podcasts, infographics, animations, etc.?
  • Is your content interactive enough to provide an engaging learner experience?

Answering these questions will set you up for success with your microlearning initiatives.

4. Creating a Clear Blueprint for Each Microlearning Lesson

A microlearning map serves as the plan for designing, scripting, and presenting your lesson. It acts as the blueprint for your content.

A user-friendly microlearning lesson helps a learner to easily access any lesson without a fuss.

Additionally, the quality of your assets, including visuals, animations, short simulations, gamification elements, videos, etc. must be attractive.

You need an easy-to-use format for your microlearning map. It helps you make your microlearning assets fun and build-memory. This keeps learners glued on to microlearning effortlessly!

  1. Having a Microlearning Platform with Strong ‘Analytics Capabilities’

Once microlearning is in place, evaluating its effectiveness is crucial. However, this requires a platform with robust analytics capabilities.

Ask yourself the following questions before choosing a microlearning platform:

  • Does it enable real-time monitoring of learning progress?
  • Can it effectively track the learning gaps of each learner, and implement spaced repetition efficiently?
  • Does your microlearning platform include a comprehensive data analytics suite for real-time verification of key parameters for each learner at a ‘topic-level’?
  • Is it equipped with measurement tools that provide details such as extent-of-participation by a learner, learner-engagement, completion rates, scores, errors, confidence levels, ?
  • Can the microlearning platform simplify tasks like tracking changes in learners’ behavior, skill enhancements, evidence of information retrieval, application orientation, increased decision-making capabilities, accuracy, and the quality of work?

To conclude, your microlearning journey will kickstart with a bang once you get the above 5 things right!

microlearning

How ‘Risk’ Focussed Microlearning Puts a Business on a High Growth Trajectory

Business Risks- both external and internal- must be identified, prioritized and acted-upon to create a strong enterprise. Among the internal risk, it is critical to find out risks that arise due to what people do or don’t do, and to mitigate them! We can call them knowledge gap risks i.e. gaps in the knowledge, skill and capabilities at an employee-level.

Risk-specific training holds the key to mitigating these risks besides making a business strong and sustainable!

Let’s understand how to create synergies between the concept of risk mitigation and microlearning.

What are Knowledge Gap Risks?

A host of risks emerge out of how people across levels think, analyse, interpret, decide or act while at work. They turn into knowledge gap risks that can bleed a business badly!

Even a small knowledge gap left unattended can be disastrous in the long-run. For instance, a great product or service in the absence of a smooth customer service or an adequate support service can be a massive risk if left unattended!

These knowledge gap risks are best avoided by integrating microlearning into your overall training plan across your business, departments, functions and/or processes.

How Microlearning Obliterates Potential Knowledge Gap Risks

Microlearning revolves around the learner, and the specific learning needs/goals of the learner.

Risk focused microlearning approach is built on the premise that a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ just doesn’t work! This is why microlearning is meant to be tailor-made to individual goals and learning-curve. This feature helps eliminate knowledge gap risks!

An example of an IT service firm is given below to explain this

ABC IT firm came across two knowledge gaps (operational risks) with their team members. These were:

  1. team members could not deliver within the project timelines resulting in delays, loss of focus and increased chances of software glitches post-delivery, and

  2.  client feedback revealed that the team members were hard to communicate with, and were not client-friendly.

The root cause of these issues- (1) knowledge gaps on technical skills, and (2) lack of communication or client-management skills.

The microlearning initiative required:

  •  finding and filling each learner’s knowledge-gaps that result in project delays.
  • communication skills were enhanced using videos, podcasts, quizzes, games etc. in microlearning snippets.

An on-going microlearning initiative was implemented. With a spaced repetition algorithm and retrieval practice (tests, quizzes) built-in within the microlearning platform, astounding results were achieved.

The outcome

  • Within 2 months of launch, the project delays decreased by 95%, and customer satisfaction scores shot-up significantly.
  • Each learner continued to get measured and monitored (tests, quizzes, gamification scores etc.) for each one’s specific learning needs using a robust microlearning platform. It became an on-going microlearning program!
  • After 6 months, both the operational risks were contained and eliminated completely.
  • Overall business increased, and the business’ valuation grew by over 30% within 1 year.

Why Microlearning Works in Eliminating Knowledge Gap Risks?

Unlike conventional training, microlearning gives bite-sized chunks of content to your workforce across levels. It’s quick, and doesn’t eat into too much of their productive time.

With microlearning you get to sharpen the analytical, logical, creative, qualitative and quantitative knowledge and skills of your learners across level. It works to build both operational, functional and/or strategic skills.

Microlearning effectively puts the kaizen approach to practice by continually improving and building your workforces’ skills, knowledge and competence.

Microlearning is based on proven psychological and learning theories and best practices that keeps the brains of your workforce refreshed by continually building strong memory.

It uses concepts like spaced repetition and retrieval practice to enable your workforce upgrade from basic level of competencies to higher levels of mastery over one’s work-related tasks.

Your people transition from basic to higher levels of learning as follows:

Awareness (basic) → Explanatory → Practitioner → Mastery (highest)

Microlearning acts upon the forgetfulness factor of the human mind (Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve). So, most of the operational and strategic risks are avoided when your workforce is continually exposed to knowledge inputs to keep them on top of their game.

Microlearning: Necessarily An On-Going Effort

Microlearning must NOT be looked upon as a one-time treatment. It has to be an integral part of your overall training initiative.

Microlearning is just like drip-irrigation where the people are nourished continuously, and in short chunks of information with content that’s relevant, important and helpful. It builds greater competence in your workforce on an on-going basis.

Higher the competence, lesser is the risk or uncertainty!

Types of Risks and Their Relevance to Microlearning

A risk is the likelihood of something happening that has an adverse consequence. Risks are a part of all the functions viz. finance, marketing, manufacturing/production, customer service operations, logistics & supply chain, IT, business strategy and so on.

You name it, and there could be a risk (small or big) across levels in all the industries or domains.

Risks are measured in terms of the consequences and the likelihood of their happening.

So, based on its impact and likelihood, a risk could range from a very tiny issue to very big catastrophe e.g. a simple customer service interaction gone bad, OR a event causing a business to shut down.

Risk professionals use a ‘heat map’ to prioritize the impact and likelihood of a risk on a business as shown below.

Risk items are listed and plotted on this 15-blocker grid

  • Extremely low risk items have the least impact and low likelihood of occurrence.
  • Extremely high risk items can have catastrophic impact, and are dangerous if the likelihood is extremely high.

How Does the Heat Map fit into Microlearning?

Trainers can very effectively use this heat map concept to list and map the knowledge gap risks. This helps you in viewing training needs with a risk-perspective. This further enables you in creating a vibrant learning organisation, with a workforces high on its core competencies.

Using the heat map concept, a risk assessment exercise can be done in 3 steps:

Step 1: List down and measure all that can possibly go wrong on people-related front- knowledge, skills and capabilities.

Step 2: Once the risk prioritization matrix is developed, an appropriate microlearning initiative can be rolled-out to mitigate these risks.

Step 3: Post-launch, measure and monitor the knowledge gap risks on a regular basis.

This is how you keep revisiting the microlearning initiative. Repeat the knowledge risk assessment periodically. Adjust, adapt and implement accordingly.

Stages of Strategic Risk Management and Microlearning

Given below is a risk related construct where microlearning fits very well.

microlearning

This 5-step Risk Management Process construct talks about taking action and monitoring/reassessing the entire range of potential risks listed and identified.

This action, and monitoring bit needs to be done on the range of knowledge gap risks identified using microlearning.

This way, microlearning enables an organisation’s governance, risk and compliance strategy!

Why does Microlearning Become So Relevant?

To err is human…and to prevent them from erring, you have microlearning!

People forget things all the time. At work, they fail to adhere to protocols/procedures, skip process steps, take wrong decisions, behave badly at times, act without confidence, procrastinate etc.

All these acts of omission, errors, lapses, wrong decisions etc. pose a risk.

Microlearning becomes relevant because it plugs the knowledge gaps at an individual level.

Microlearning mitigates a host of business as well as knowledge gap risks by augmenting, reinforcing, supplementing and remediating your training efforts.

Done right, microlearning initiatives can successfully target risk categories such as Compliance (or mandatory) risks, Financial risks, Operational risks, Hazard (or pure) risks, Strategic risks, Control (or uncertainty) risks, Opportunity (or speculative) risks or Reputational risks.

Microlearning: Necessarily An On-Going Effort

To deal with knowledge gaps risks, you need a microlearning approach/strategy supported by a robust platform.

Microlearning by nature is very diagnostic, corrective, enabling and empowering. This helps mitigate risks!

A good microlearning platform are backed by strong built-in algorithms. These help you measure and quantify learners’ learning progress/transition from Awareness to Explanatory to Practitioner to Mastery.

The Benefits-

  1. Training ROI becomes healthy and sustainable with a good microlearning platform. Enabled by robust algorithms, it helps you measure learners’ proficiency and learning curve.
  2. With microlearning algorithms, you get to counter the risk of ‘forgetting’, the risk of offering ‘irrelevant’ learning content, the risk of content being ‘too easy or heavy’, and the risk of the content being ‘boring’.
  3. Risks are contained better when training becomes relevant, personalised and adaptive. This can be done by training your learner based on one’s department, date of joining, and job-profile.
  4. Risks are dealt with a sniper-like approach when goal-specific training becomes possible with microlearning with focus on individual learning needs.
  5. Microlearning monitors every employee’s proficiency levels, and this dynamic monitoring and measurement makes the learning process responsive to emerging and changing knowledge gap risks at an employee-level.
  6. Knowledge gap risks go down when your workforce becomes resilient, driver of change, innovation, disruption, and demonstrate higher core-competencies.
  7. Your workforce is better equipped to changes in external, internal and risk environments making them resilient, proactive and responsive to averting operational and/or strategic risks.
  8. Your learners are better prepared to  ‘prevent, protect and prepare’ things/events when required.
  9. With constant eye on gaining mastery over what’s learned, your workforce get well-prepared to ‘respond, recover and review’ disruptive events confidently.
  10. Microlearning sharpens their ability to think, solve, build, review, adapt and act
  11. Microlearning makes the workforce ready for a host of challenges by creating a simulated environment where employee turns into a player who likes to win. Elements like questions/quizzes, scores, badges, leaderboards, gamification etc. strengthens their learning progress.
  12. Microlearning initiative turns your organisation into a learning organisation with well-equipped and knowledgeable workforce- a strategic competitive advantage that’s valuable, non-substitutable and rare!

Risk Assessment Approaches to Implement Effective Microlearning Initiatives

People-specific risks due to knowledge gaps can be assessed using simple methodologies such as-

  1. Heat map– a simple risk prioritization matrix explained earlier.
  2. SWOT analysis- A simple way to assess and list down the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats faced by the organization. This can be further broken down department wise, function wise or process wise SWOT analysis.
  3. HAZOP and FMEA– HAZOP or hazard and operability, and Failure Modes Effects Analysis (FMEA) are structured approaches that ensure that no risks are omitted. These can be specifically tailored to list and eliminate all the peoples’ knowledge, skill and capability related risks or failure points.
  4. Classifying these risks into short, medium and long term helps to identify risks as being related (primarily) to operations, tactics and strategy.
  • Short-Term risks impact the ability of the organization to maintain effective and efficient core processes that are concerned with the continuity and monitoring of routine operations.
  • Medium-Term risks impact the ability of the organization to maintain effective and efficient core processes that are concerned with the management of tactics, projects and other change programmes.
  • Long-Term risks have the ability to impact the organization sometime after the event occurs (1 to 5 years). Long-Term risks usually impact the ability of the organization to maintain the core processes that are concerned with the development and delivery of an effective and efficient strategy.

Using any of the above methods, a risk assessment exercise can be done with a view to implementing microlearning initiative.

To conclude, microlearning helps you Embrace, Manage, Mitigate and Minimize (EM3) the occurrence of knowledge gap risks confidently. This makes investing in an enterprise-wide microlearning initiative worth it!

Story Boarding

Storyboarding Tips to Create Powerful Microlearning Assets

A storyboard is the blueprint that tells the story of a specific lesson, and storyboarding is not a simple exercise. But it does get easier with the right approach!

So, how do we go about storyboarding?

Let’s explore how to do it right.

Groundwork Before Starting Your Storyboard

A storyboard gives the framework of the lesson before it goes into production, providing clear direction and description about the visuals, text, audio, interactions, navigation, assessments, etc.

Your microlearning strategy and microlearning map lay the foundation for a high-quality storyboard. The microlearning map helps clarify the purpose of the microlearning (to supplement, reinforce, augment, or remediate the training). It also defines the use case scenarios you need to use – pensive, performance-based, persuasive, post-instruction, practice- based, or preparatory.

The groundwork before starting the storyboarding includes deciding on the learning objectives, desired performance, tasks involved, performance criteria, content, design considerations, motivational elements, and the type of asset. These assets could be one of the following or a combination of any of them:

  • Podcast
  • Video
  • Gamification asset
  • Whiteboard animation
  • Short sim
  • Infographic
  • PDF

Once you have decided on the type of asset, you’re ready to create a specific, focused microlearning program. As in any other type of production, microlearning production is also done in 3 stages:

  • Pre-production
  • Production
  • Post-production

Planning for storyboarding starts in pre-production, based on the insights gained from the microlearning map. Better the planning, better the storyboard!

Dos and Don’ts of Effective Storyboarding

A well-documented and self-explanatory storyboarding is like a great recipe for an effective microlearning lesson.

The artwork, design, graphics, etc. of your microlearning lesson must be based on your vision of the end product. That’s why it is critical to ‘script out’ your storyboard, define the level-of-engagement of the microlearning asset, and integrate it with technology.

For instance, for a podcast or a video, the storyboard informs the technical experts (shooting the video or recording the podcast) exactly what is needed. It’s all about effectively communicating with those who actually develop the microlearning asset.

A storyboarding table format can make this job much easier. A good storyboarding table specifies and clarifies all the technical and non-technical elements/aspects of the microlearning asset to the production team – animators, video shoot team, programmers, graphics team, instructional design specialists, or others.

A good storyboard leaves no scope for confusion and should be easy to understand for your production team. Knowing the competency levels of the team will help communicate with them efficiently and effectively!

Your storyboarding table must:

  • Make it clear what the host, subject-expert, or the trainer needs to say (narration).
  • Specify how much of the host will be visible on-screen.
  • Specify the kind of video or visual that appears during the narration.
  • Define what is displayed on-screen when there is no narration.
  • Plan for every second of what the learner will see while interacting with or watching the content.
  • Clearly specify all digital assets to be used (images, graphs, diagrams, charts, videos, whiteboard animations).

An Example of Storyboarding

Let’s take the example of a real estate company that opted for microlearning to train their salesforce on a newly launched townhouse residential project.

The purpose of the microlearning was to supplement a forthcoming larger training program using a preparatory use case scenario to introduce their sales team to a much sought-after housing proposition.

‘The Serenity’ townhouse residential project

The sales team are already selling high end luxury homes costing around $3 million within Los Angeles. They now needed to be trained on the new gated community 25-townhouse project, with each townhouses priced at $1 to 1.3 million

The microlearning lesson is planned to be delivered as a series of videos that the sales team can watch on the go on their smart phones.

Storyboarding table for your microlearning lesson

The storyboard specifies what’s goes into the video, and which element goes into which part of the instruction.

Let’s see how it was done by the real estate company using this simple 3-column table template (more columns can be added for additional elements) in the storyboard that includes:

  • Script: written text thatblends content and design to create a learning asset
  • Blocking: the precise staging of actors to facilitate their performance
  • Asset: form and type of content that facilitates learning
ScriptBlockAsset
 Hi, I’m here with some good news!
For quite some time now, you’ve been
asking to sell mid- range, spacious
homes just outside of LA.
Well, that’s what you are getting now!
CEO talkingVideo of CEO addressing sales   team from LA his office. CEO’s   name and designation appears.
I present to you ‘The Serenity’– 25
gorgeous townhouses
in the Thousand Oaks suburb.
CEO talking Jpeg file showing masterplan of   the new townhouse project at   Thousand Oaks (near LA).
The Serenity! It’s all in the name.
These townhouses are part of a
quiet upscale community in the Ventura County – an enviable place to call home.
CEO talkingVideo showing a glimpse of Ventura County (roads, parks, smiling residents and families)
Barely an hour away from the heart of LA, these townhouse are for those seeking for a great living experience with their family day after day! To reach this great location, just take Freeway 101 from LA. Thousand Oaks is   located exactly 35 miles from   Beverly Hills – a mere 40-minute   drive to this land of tranquillity!CEO talkingGoogle map-based graphics showing distance from Beverly Hills via Freeway 101 to site location (distance and route highlighted).
Constructed on three-levels, it is a great bargain for customers looking for a spacious 3200 square foot home.CEO talking Video of CEO directly addressing the audience.
 With 4 bedrooms with 4   bathrooms, each is a steal at  just over a million dollars. Let’s hear more from Adam, the mastermind  behind this brilliant project. He’ll  tell us what makes The Serenity so special!CEO talkingVideo of CEO talking looking into the camera.
Hi, I’m Adam, the chief architect of this project. So, what’s the concept behind The Serenity? Who is it meant for? These super spacious, convenient townhouses are for those wanting to experience resort-like living near LA. Clean air, and living amidst nature. That’s what makes it unique! Those going for this 3- level townhouse property get the best of modern living in a beautiful gated community. Adam, the architect of The Serenity, talking Video of architect talking on site at The Serenity. Work going on in the background.
Located in the excellent Thousand Oaks suburb, the gated complex offers a host of amenities. Adam, the architect of The Serenity, talkingRegular and drone-based videos of actual location and gated walls of The Serenity highlighted. Low volume gentle and happy instrumental music playing throughout the video.
Each home will have a high- ceilinged tiled entry leading to a spacious living room.An adjacent outdoor patio allows residents to relax and host lavish parties. The 2nd level has a large dining room and a spacious and efficient kitchen along with a beautiful breakfast area. The two bedrooms on this level overlook the beautiful skyline of Thousand Oaks. The 3rd level houses two master bedrooms, each with a walk-in closet, an ensuite bathroom with a tub and shower, and a balcony. This makes the townhouse the epitome of luxury. The laundry area is conveniently located upstairs adjacent to the bedrooms. The 2-car garage with storage offers direct access to the unit. You get to enjoy the beautiful lush green grounds with swimming pools, spa, sauna, and a recreation room. Adam, the architect of The Serenity, talking 3-D animation virtual tour video shows project highlights as the narration goes on. Each aspect of the home is highlighted in a stunning setting. The décor is depicted at different times of the day, with exquisite lighting, fixtures, and accessories.
…….storyboarding continues--
story boarding

The storyboarding continues detailing the interiors and exteriors, including the number and type of rooms, beds and baths, dimensions & layout, appliances & utilities, heating & cooling, fireplaces & spa, gas & electric, windows, doors, floors & walls, levels, entrance, accessibility, views, pool, frontage, water & sewer, surface and elevation.

Based on the storyboarding table, the production team goes ahead with the shooting of videos, creating animations and graphics, and so on. Once completed, the assets are integrated into the microlearning lesson.

The storyboard becomes the first in the series of microlearning lessons that conveys the message in a 5-to-7-minute microlearning lesson.

This example gives you a glimpse of the storyboarding process. Actual storyboarding is far more intricate and elaborate. What’s important is to follow the logic and framework to get it right!

To conclude, storyboarding is a strategic planning process. A well-thought-out microlearning strategy, a good microlearning map, and the right storyboarding framework will get you excellent results.

Short sims

How to Use Highly Engaging Short Sims in a Microlearning Lesson

Simply put, short sims are short simulations that are based on ‘learning by doing’. Short sims are a revolutionary form of microlearning that go with a ‘do more, talk less’ approach!

Now, why do learners love sims? Well, it’s because they feel relevant, natural, fast, effective, predictable, and easy-to-deploy!

No wonder corporates are increasingly opting for a ‘Sims first’ approach!

Let’s now learn about how short sims make microlearning incredibly innovative and immersive!

How Short Sims Work

Clark Aldrich, a master simulator, pioneered the concept of short sims where interactivity is the key element.

Short Sims are short (5 to 12 minutes long) scenario-based simulations where learners make decision through a multiple-choice interface.

What a short sim does:

  • Introduces a topic without beating around the bush, taking the learner straight to the point.
  • Allows a learner to explore and experiment with a concept, idea, skill or decision-making scenario.
  • Enables the learner to take actions for a given simulation that can involve:
  • Making a choice or decision
  • Choosing the most appropriate option
  • Creating or moving objects using easy-to-use user interface

A short sim quickly can set the ball rolling for role plays, where the learner interacts with a character in the simulation, makes realistic choices, and even receives feedback on their choices or actions.

The main advantage with a short sim is that, unlike a full-blown simulation, it focuses on one element. And given the right technology tools, it can be created very quickly.

Short Sims applied to 6 Microlearning Use Case Scenarios

Short sims can be used to supplement, reinforce, augment, or remediate your training.

Based on the purpose, short sims can be created for different microlearning use case scenarios.

6 Use Case Scenarios where short sims can be created for your player (learner):

  1. Pensive: the short sim asks the learner to reflect upon an idea,
    situation, or task and brainstorm ideas or concepts.
  2. Performance: a scenario-based short sim where learners get just-in- time support (e.g., workflows to recall important steps of a process).
  3. Persuasive: the short sim depicts a scenario and provides multiple
    decision-making options to help augment training and remediate
    behavior.
  4. Post-instruction: the short sims delivers key concepts after the main training initiative to improve retention and recall.
  5. Practice: the short sims help the learner practice the desired skills.
  6. Preparatory: a series of short sims designed to tie into the larger
    training initiative.

In all these 6 scenarios, the decisions made by the learner can be assessed to gauge their level of understanding or mastery.

Example of a Short Sim: An HR Executive Learns to Interview

In this short sim, the learner, an HR executive, is learning ‘how to ask behavior- based questions’ in an interview. The learner interacts with a character (the candidate) who is seeking a customer-facing teller job in a bank. The teller’s job role involves helping walk-in customers with their financial transactions and responding to their queries.

Short sims

The HR executive is the player in this short sim with the learning objective of honing their behavior-based questioning skills. The simulation displays both players, the HR Exec and candidate.

The player needs to learn to assess the candidate’s suitability for the job role through behavior-based questions. So, there is only one task to perform — asking the right behavior-based question depending on the given scenario.

The scenarios and options are sequenced in a logical workflow. Four options are given for each question. The player needs to select one out of the four options.

The graphics in the sim change as the interview progresses, and feedback is provided on whether the player has selected the best option. The player has the option to go back and chose another option in this interactive simulation. Once a scenario is complete, the next simulated scenario appears on screen. This goes on until all the scenarios are completed within the time available.

The player can engage with the short sim multiple times, and revisit chosen options. Instant feedback is provided on the chosen option on why it is not correct or most appropriate.

The goal for our player remains the same, ask the right behavior-based question. The sim ends once the learner succeeds in choosing the right options.

Benefits of a short sim

In the example we’ve just seen, there is only a single scene and a single goal.

A short sim format keeps the learner focused, and gives them a platform to practice quickly, honing their critical decision-making skills.

Short sims can be used to teach the process steps in a workflow. They can also be used to recall past decisions or even previous short sim sessions.

A series of short sims in your microlearning lessons saves learners’ time. They can gain knowledge and improve performance without going through full-fledged simulation exercises!

3 Tips to Develop Effective Short Sims

1. Build action.

A short sim is all about the action. The learner is required to act – make a decision, move an item, etc. A short sim needs to have a behavior or action inbuilt in it. Action and activity matter the most. Content and recall will follow automatically!

2. Measure success when goals are met.

You must measure the learner’s success when they take the right decision or perform the right action. This will give the extent of mastery gained by the player (learner). The short sim must be tied to a rubric, a scoring criteria on ‘what counts’. Based on this criteria, the player will be able to learn to assess the quality of choices made, viz., poor, good, or great.

3. Depict reality.

Your short sim must be based on an actual situation your learner will face. Then the sim ceases to be ‘just a game’. Also, short sims work well when used as social simulators. In a social simulation, two or more interactions are measured, making it more absorbing and interesting. A short sim can simulate multiple scenarios about processes, procedures, skills, and many behavioral as well as technical situations. The singular focus on one subject area makes them simple to create, implement, and engage.

To conclude, short sims fit very well in a microlearning approach. They help improve learning effectiveness through fewer words coupled with a plethora of decision- making situations.

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Gamification

Nicole Lazzaro’s 4 Fun Types for Highly Engaging Microlearning Gamification

The game design process begins when your microlearning map requires a gamification asset! 

And that’s when Nicole Lazzaro’s 4 fun types can come handy. They describe the emotions and the kind of fun players experience in a game.  

An interactive game design should be able to create compelling emotions that lead to intense player engagement. To do that, you first need to have good understanding of the emotions that’ll get your learners hooked to the game! 

Lazzaro’s 4 fun types make it easy for you to make the game experience engaging and fun, and let the learner experience a full range of emotions from the agony of defeat to the thrill of victory, and all the emotions in between. 

Gamification

Gamification Assets and Fun – the Symbiotic Relationship

Gamification makes use of game-design elements in non-game contexts with the help of technology. The goal is to enhance learners’ motivation to play the game and respond to it. The fun element makes learning as natural as play.

This results in superior learning, higher absorption (memory retention), and quicker and better recall when needed at work. With that, you get superior learning outcomes!

These 4 fun types can be incorporated in microlearning game design to supplement, reinforce, augment, or remediate the training efforts.

Supplement: The training acts as a support, implementing different, novel, and fun ways to engage the learner.

Reinforce: The training is used to strengthen previous learning and to ensure critical elements of the training are not forgotten.

Augment: This type of training builds and adds to previous learning and helps the learner gain mastery over the topic.

Remediate: Here, the training improves on-the-job performance and encourages more appropriate/ productive behaviors, attitudes, and habits.

With this background, let’s now discuss Nicole Lazzaro’s 4 Keys to Fun, and how they can engage a player emotionally.

Lazzaro’s 4 Keys to Fun

gamification

Lazzaro’s 4 fun types can be briefly described as Easy fun, Hard fun, People fun, and Serious fun. These 4 Fun types correspond to the four basic reasons why a player plays a game – novelty, challenge, friendship, and meaning.

  1. Easy Fun →Easy fun corresponds to novelty. The player has fun exploring new worlds, new stories, etc. It is a vehicle for imagination, and is like the bubble wrap of game design.

For microlearning gamification, Easy Fun provides the hook that draws the learner into an explorative, creative fantasy, or a roleplay mode. Microlearning lessons become very absorbing with Easy Fun with the elements of curiosity, wonder, and surprise.

gamification
  1. Hard Fun Hard Fun corresponds to challenge and mastery – ‘The Brass Ring’. Hard Fun mechanics give the learner an opportunity to master the required knowledge and skills with the help of goals, obstacles, and strategies. Hard Fun creates the emotions of frustration, boredom, relief, and eventually, Fiero (the feeling of an epic win) in the player.

Game players don’t mind the feeling of frustration, because it eventually leads to the thrill of winning! This works well for gamification in microlearning. The element of failure encourages the learner/ player to try the experience again.

Hard Fun ends with an epic win where the player overcomes obstacles while pursuing a goal. Achievements can be in the form of points and badges earned after meeting a challenge successfully. This creates effective learning and long-term memory.

gamification
  1. People Fun People fun corresponds to friendship, relationships, and social bonding. It includes the fun and amusement the player experiences through accomplishment, and cooperation and competition with friends.

Many games increase engagement through interaction with friends. In the People Fun construct, the community becomes more important than the game itself. Also, fun gets amplified when learning happens in the company of friends. People are more addictive eventually!

gamification
  1. Serious Fun Serious Fun corresponds to meaning and provides value. It results in excitement that comes with learning and changing how people think, feel, and behave.

Serious Fun goes beyond mere points and badges. It enhances feelings of aspiration, desire, excitement, focus, and the feeling of having created something of value. Game developers must be able to understand, amplify and extend these feelings.

With Serious Fun, the learner experiences real meaning and a sense of growth. Serious fun is immensely satisfying because it engages the player on a deep cerebral level. It results in a profound feeling of Fiero that comes with a heightened sense of victory.

gamification

Serious Fun mechanics provide an end of level win experience that rewards players over time. This happens by unlocking new content or inching up a leader board.  A Serious Fun interaction reinforces what’s learned with games based on repetition, rhythm, collection, and completion.

As a learning manager, knowing how these 4 Fun types work will help you create microlearning gamification assets with better understanding and clarity.

microlearning

How to use Motivational Concepts for Inspiring Microlearning Assets

Learner motivation is critical for the success of your training initiatives. Motivation can be intrinsic, where the learner seeks inherent satisfaction, fun, or challenge from the learning. It can also be extrinsic, with promotions, rewards, or fear of punishment motivating the learner.

Let’s now understand how to apply 5 motivation theories/concepts to make your lessons more impactful and effective.

Microlearning & the ‘Self-Determination Theory’

According to the ‘Self-Determination’ theory, learners are influenced by their own environmental and social factors, and their innate need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. They want to:

  • Be in control their own behavior and its consequences
  • Believe in their ability to accomplish tasks and do a job well
  • Have a sense of belonging in a group or team at the workplace

This theory can be used in microlearning to create a stimulating experience for learners, using the microlearning platform to consciously encourage and empower each learner.

For example, in a microlearning gamification scenario, rewards and recognition (through scores, badges, leaderboards, levels, etc.) can be used with great effect! Your learner gets a sense of achievement when she/he is awarded a badge or level-up recognition while getting a quiz or question right. Similarly, seeing one’s name in the leaderboard or being recognized as the master of a certain topic brings instant cheer to your learner, increasing his or her motivation levels.

The learner gets the ‘I can do it’, ‘I am worth it’ sense of self-worth! With adaptive microlearning platforms, you can gradually increase the level of difficulty. A no-rush, no-push approach makes learning easier and more acceptable.

The feeling of belongingness and relatedness can also be heightened with microlearning. For example, when the learner is recognised as having attained a certain level of mastery, they feel they are an important a part of the social group (team of achievers).

Microlearning & the ‘Achievement Goal Theory’

The ‘Achievement Goal Theory’ states that the learner can be motivated by a desire to achieve a specific goal. There are two simple goals you can create – mastery goals and  performance goals.

Mastery goals help the learner acquire abilities and skills to perform a task. The focus here is on developing competence and self-improvement.

Performance goals are formed when the learner wants to achieve a higher level of success than their peers. Competition matters here!

Both goals can be applied in a microlearning scenario.

It is better to go for mastery goals of self-efficacy to start with. Performance goals can follow depending on the situation and learner acceptance.

A word of caution – Performance goals could have a negative influence on learners’ self-efficacy if they are not mentally prepared. This doesn’t mean that you should never use performance goals; only that you’ll get better results if you use them when the time and conditions are right. For instance, performance goals will be viewed positively in a fiercely competitive learning environment! A healthy competitive spirit is a great motivator too.

You can choose either approach depending on the learning requirements, learner profiles, possible side-effects, and the learning environment of your organization.

Microlearning & the ‘Social Learning Theory’

Social Learning to Improve Attention, Retention and Motivation

According to the ‘Social Learning Theory’, the learner learns by ‘observing’ others. The learner’s social interactions and cognitive processing follow a sequence of attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

Simply put, this concept is very helpful during the initial stages of your microlearning initiatives. It helps create a learning culture early on, especially when learner acceptance of microlearning is an issue.

For example, when implementing microlearning for the first time, look for a few role models and early adaptors. These folks will be quick to accept microlearning and set the ball rolling. When other learners observe these early adaptors demonstrating superior skills and performing better, they will soon be motivated to follow!

Microlearning & the ‘Situated Learning Theory’

The ‘Situated Learning Theory’ says that learners are naturally motivated to participate and grow. They have an innate desire to become full-fledged participants at their workplace.

Learning is facilitated by social interactions, real activities, contexts, and culture, helping the learner connect prior knowledge to the present in an informal, unintended contextual way.

Microlearning complements this type of learning by making the learning an immersive and relevant experience, where the lessons are based on authentic social contexts and real work situations.

For example, microlearning assets like short sims, videos, podcasts and games place learners in real meaningful contexts, which motivates them to participate, learn and grow.

That’s why this theory works so well for microlearning.

Microlearning & ‘Feedback’

The learner can be ‘motivated’ or ‘demotivated’ by feedback, depending on how it is given! Feedback can be positive or negative.

Constructive feedback given in a timely manner is a great motivator that can positively impact performance. Supportive, encouraging feedback emphasizes the learner’s strengths. Badges, emoticons, applause, gestures, and other multimedia elements in the microlearning platform can be used here with great effect.

Negative feedback focuses on the learner’s weak points and poor performance. It can also be used to deliver a clear message about ‘how to improve’ rather than just focusing on the poor performance

The feedback process can be customised using a fading strategy while creating the microlearning assets – this method gradually decreases the ‘level of help’ provided to the learner to master a task. Fading enables the learner to reflect on what he or she is learning. It promotes better comprehension and enhances performance.

To conclude, training through microlearning is inherently motivating and impactful. Consciously applying motivation theories, concepts, and techniques will help you achieve superior outcomes.

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dde framework

How to Apply the DDE framework for Game Design in Microlearning

Before you actually start the process of gamifying a microlearning asset, you need to know about game design frameworks.

One such framework is the Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics (MDA) framework of game design.

The MDA framework has been further improved upon by Wolfgang Walk, Daniel Görlich, and Mark Barrett ised in the form of the ‘Design, Dynamics and Experience (DDE) framework’.

The DDE framework of game design helps you go inculcate a meaningful production rigor, and makes you better-equipped to lead the development of your microlearning game design.

To do so, let’s quickly revisit the MDA framework, and then move on to DDE framework.

MDA Framework by Hunicke: a Recap

Why should you revisit MDA? Well, it’s best to first get a firm grip on MDA framework, and then build upon it by understanding the DDE framework.

MDA stands for Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics in the game design process. This is a widely accepted framework, and remains extremely valuable to understand the basics of gamification design process.

  • Mechanics describes the components of the game comprising data representation and algorithms.
  • Dynamics describes the run-time behavior comprising of player inputs.
  • Aesthetics describes the desirable emotional responses evoked in the player while interacting with a game.
dde framework

How is DDE framework different from MDA? Well, it actually builds upon the MDA framework with a greater focus on: (1) Design aspects of games that go beyond the game mechanics, and (2) Gamified content and experience-oriented game designs.

The DDE Framework Explained

1. Design

dde framework

The Design element focuses on the production process of a game, and its iterative nature. It views design in 3 sub-categories- viz. Blueprint, Mechanics and Interface.

These 3 help you see the production process as one whole in its entirety.

Plus, it helps your designer to see the 3 stages of the production process clearly, and help visualize the player’s journey through the game.

Blueprint- deals with the game world in concept: its cultures, religions, physics and other rule sets. Here you define the art design, narrative design, character design, and sound design that together create the aesthetic experience for your player or learner. Planning and documentation of the game development process in the blueprint.

Mechanics- makes the framework much more specific that helps in the creation the game. It’s all about the code architecture, the input/output handling, the object handling, the implementation of the game rules and object interaction. Mechanics comprises of elements that your player does not directly see or hear during play. It can only be experienced indirectly via the gaming interface (technology).

Interface- concerns the design and production of elements to create the real game interface. It has to do with everything that communicates the game world to the player– how it looks, how it sounds, how it reacts and interacts with the player, and the game’s internal feedback loops. The interface also contains the report system that every game needs. Every graphic asset, sound asset, cut scene or text on display is part of the interface.

2. Dynamics

dde framework

Dynamics allows the creative process that has to do with design iterations. It clarifies the divergent perspectives of designers and players.

Design involves planning all of the parts of the game including putting them together. Dynamics defines what happens when the game starts and all of those parts work together.

Let’s understand this with the analogy of a car- its Design and its Dynamics:

Designing a car is about the individual parts of the vehicle.

Dynamics come into play when all the parts of the automotive work together. The element of ‘working-together’ creates multiple driving scenarios. This includes scenarios of how the car and it’s parts will respond to different driving styles, situations and actions.

Dynamics makes a game to work as intended. It deals with the complexity of all the players (learners) in a game as well as their choices, decisions and unpredictable nature.

3. Experience

The MDA framework describes Aesthetics as the desirable emotional responses which are evoked when the player interacts with the game system. Whereas DDE lays more focus on the Player-Subject and the Antagonist (the opponent, enemy, rival or villain) in a game.

dde framework

The Player becomes a ‘Subject’ in a game. This means that the ‘act of playing a game’ is an act of ‘subjectivization’. This means that the gaming process creates a ‘Player-Subject’ (your player/learner)  who is connected to the rules of the game.

The Player-Subject is like a mental persona. The learner or player of your game is also a character who is able to make decisions that are not easily possible in real life. Your player becomes a mental character with a different set of abilities, thinking capabilities, confidence-levels and ethics.

In a game, you can even put your Player-Subject into a challenging/dangerous situation to experience the thrills of a game without any exposure to real-world harm or loss. This allows experiencing and exploring mentally challenging situations from a safe-zone. Your player gets all the points, badges, benefits and rewards without any real risk. The player is able to learn without having to make costly mistakes on the job which is comparable to real-life work situations.

The experience of a player begins as soon as the game starts.

Antagonist and the Player-Subject

The Antagonist in a game design helps generate conflict, contrast or tension of differing levels.

The Player-Subject may have to deal with a worthy opponent in the form of an Antagonist.

Playing a game creates a journey that works on multiple levels:

  • Senses: The organoleptic journey where a player feels sensory experiences from start to finish. It’s the totality of what the player sees, hears and senses in the game.
  • Cerebellum: The cerebellar journey deals with all the emotions the player experiences in a game: fears and horrors, sadness, guilt and anger, happiness, joy, and many other emotions.
  • Cerebrum: The cerebral journey consists of all the intellectual challenges and decisions the player experiences or contemplates.

You need to be aware of players’ perception, their interpretation of the game world and subsequent decision-making to create an engaging microlearning gaming asset.

Knowing the emotional expectations of your learners will helps you succeed in creating an engaging and fun gamification asset.

To conclude, the Design, Dynamics, Experience (DDE) framework helps you see what needs to be produced while designing your microlearning gaming asset. It helps you produce game narratives that are experience-oriented.

DDE framework also helps your gaming designers to understand the value of the story and the learning objective within the overall framework of a game development.

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bloom's taxonomy

How Bloom’s Taxonomy is Used in Microlearning to Create a Highly Competent Workforce

Having a workforce that thinks, creates, contributes and innovates for a business is a dream come true. Bloom’s taxonomy used consciously in microlearning helps you make that happen. It goes a long way in making your microlearning approach purposeful.

Let’s understand how!

Bloom’s Taxonomy- the Basics

Bloom’s pyramid above shows two ends of a continuum.

On one end of the continuum, you have basic capability of your employees being able to just recall facts to perform their jobs. This too is critical in delivering quality and productive work.

On the other end, however, you have the more complex and highly-evolved capabilities where your learners becomes creators and contributors of original work. At this stage learners are able to contribute things that are far more meaningful, valuable and impactful for a business. Now, who wouldn’t to have such high performing and contributing employees!

When you aim at nurturing creative and innovative workforce, you rise above the struggle of dealing with forgetfulness (Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve).

Gaining mastery in skills helps your workforce to deliver results even in the most demanding, complex and difficult work situations.

It’s nothing short of a jackpot to have a workforce that’s loaded with superior thinking, understanding, comprehension and synthesizing capabilities.

How Microlearning Helps Build Higher Thinking and Innovative Capabilities

By using the microlearning approach in your overall training initiative helps you get sustainable Training ROI. It allows you to incrementally enhance your learners knowledge, skill and capabilities to superior-levels on an on-going basis.

Role of a good microlearning platform

A pre-requisite to do this is a robust microlearning platform that’s fast, fun and truly effective. A good microlearning platform actually helps a learner breeze through these 6 cognitive stages proposed in Bloom’s taxonomy viz. remember, understand, apply, analyse, evaluate and create.

A robust microlearning platform works as a real catalyst in enhancing learner capabilities. Transformation from simple awareness levels to mastery becomes easier when conscious and deliberate efforts are made by Training managers and developers.

Further, a good microlearning platform is also built upon strong algorithms that measure a learners proficiency and learning curve on-the-go. It also offers you insightful data based on relevant parameters like their department, date of joining, and job-profile.

Separately, microlearning content and formats must be designed in a way that transformation from simple remembering what-to-do to a higher-level of contributing original work at workplace becomes easier.

Bloom’s Taxonomy Simplified: the ‘4 Stages’ Classification Used in Microlearning

Given below is the Bloom’s taxonomy in a more simplified version with 4 learning levels.

Awareness Explanatory Practitioner Mastery

StageBloom's taxonomy 6 stagesReclassified 4 stages
1 [Lowest]RememberAwareness
2 [Lower Middle]UnderstandExplanatory
3 [Upper Middle]ApplyPractitioner
4 [Highest]Analyse, Evaluate, CreateMastery

A learner progresses to a level of mastery with spaced repetition, by increasing level of difficulty, and offering the same information in different contexts. Each learner can be treated uniquely using a robust AI-driven microlearning platform that not only creates content, but also monitors a learner’s performance based on each one’s learning styles and learning progress.

4 stages explained with an example…

Learning Level Description Example
Awareness Can recognize and recall the information.Content is closely tied to the Key Learning Point in a microlearning lesson (KLP), and the learner can identify and recall the KLP with a high degree of accuracy.

For example, if the KLP is: Do not engage in situations where a conflict of interest arises.

When you check for understanding, the result of a test/quiz is that your learner shows an awareness of this information.
ExplanatoryCan classify, interpret, and explain the information (elevator speech)Content builds upon the KLP, and checks knowledge that is needed to fulfill the KLP.

Your learner is deemed proficient if she/he is able to explain or expand upon the KLP. Hence, this is called the explanatory stage.
PractitionerCan apply the information to different situations.The content presents scenarios and asks the learner to apply the KLP to different use cases.

For example, your cousin works with a vendor seeking business of your company, and you award the contract to that firm knowingly.

In this scenario, the learner is able to demonstrate exactly what to do like a sound practitioner
MasteryCan analyze, evaluate, improve, and createThe learners create their own content, working through use cases, working groups, and professional orders. They generate new ideas, designs, or products based on existing knowledge and skills.

Your learner gets adept at create content. She/he offers subject matter expertise for new work ways and suggest. A learner who has gained mastery offers inputs for innovation, change, transformation, improvisations etc.

At this stage, your learner becomes a subject matter expert (SME), and can view very complex issues or scenarios with ease. The employee gains unparalleled mastery, and is ready to contribute meaningfully even to set-up new processes, procedures and policies etc.

With the right in-built algorithms in a good microlearning platform, you get to measure and quantify a learner’s learning progress through these reclassified 4 stages of Bloom’s taxonomy.

To conclude, a learner’s transition from  Awareness to Explanatory to Practitioner to Mastery makes your organisation truly vibrant. Your workforce gives you a strategic competitive advantage that’s valuable, rare, costly-to-imitate and non-substitutable.

microlearning

5 Key Principles to Effectively Reinforce Microlearning Content

One of the biggest pain areas faced by training managers (that also adversely affects training ROI) is the workforce forgetting what’s learned during training. Which is why reinforcing training inputs becomes a necessity.

Reinforcing what employees had learned during training can be done in a fast, fun, and effective way through a good microlearning strategy using a robust microlearning platform. This also provides a sustainable and high training ROI.

We’ll discuss the 5 principles of reinforcing microlearning content in this blog. But before that, a few basics.

The Prerequisites: Spaced Repetition and a Robust Microlearning Platform

microlearning

The concepts of ‘spaced repetition’ and ‘retrieval practice’ are used to reinforce learning content. With microlearning, you can churn out short lessons to reinforce content that’s tailor-made for each learner. This means the individual learning goals of each learner are met based on their unique learning needs. This customized learning makes microlearning truly adaptive!

A robust microlearning platform intelligently adapts to a learner’s proficiency levels, learning styles, preferences, and pace. Learners love it when training inputs are short, relevant, engaging, and timely!

Backed by a powerful analytics suite, the microlearning platform monitors a learner’s interactions with the content, using inbuilt algorithms to cater to individual learning needs. That’s how a microlearning platform helps you churn out just the right content at the right frequency. ‘Spaced repetition’ (reinforcing/reviewing) and ‘retrieval practice’ (tests/quizzes/assessments) help reinforce the content just before it is forgotten by the learner. This kind of timely reiteration positively impacts retention, and helps build long-term memory.

Integrating microlearning into your training programs helps you supplement, reinforce, augment, and remediate your training efforts.

Now that we’ve reviewed the importance of spaced repetition and retrieval practice, let’s go into the 5 principles of reinforcing content.

The 5 Principles of Reinforcing Content

  1. Identify Key Learning Points (KLPs).
  2. Keep the lessons short.
  3. Deliver content that’s relevant.
  4. Remind your learners of the importance of content.
  5. Prompt an action or thought.

Principle 1. Identify Key Learning Points (KLPs)

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The Key Learning Points (KLPs) explicitly state the knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes the learner must demonstrate after the training. KLPs serve as the building blocks of knowledge. For instance, the code of conduct of a business may include a statement on ‘conflict of interest’ that may look like this:  

  • Avoid conflicts of interest at the workplace. A conflict of interest occurs when your personal interests – family, friendships, financial, or social factors – may compromise your judgment, integrity, and decisions/actions at the workplace.

  • You must declare it to your superiors or HR team should you encounter a conflict of interest. Such instances often happen while selecting suppliers, hiring people, and in various arbitration or decision-making scenarios where monetary or other personal gains are involved.

  • When in doubt, read the examples mentioned in the ‘conflict of interest’ section of the company’s code of conduct policy. It gives you a clear perspective of most of the ethical situations or dilemmas you might come across. These examples enable you to understand the right and wrong aspects of ‘conflict of interest’, and guide you on how to respond to issues concerning bribery, data protection, confidential information, and social media, among other things.

Based on the above text, we can derive the following 3 KLPs:

  1. Conflicts of interest arise when an employee’s personal interests clash with the company’s interests, compromising his/her judgment, integrity, and decisions.
  2. Such situations must be avoided. When faced with a potential conflict of interest, the employee must bring it out into the open, and seek guidance from supervisors or HR.
  3. Employees need to go through the ‘conflict of interest’ section of the Code of Conduct for better understanding through examples and scenarios.

You must learn to extract the KLPs from source documents. AI tools like Chat GPT and other tools such as Bard, and Grammarly can be used to extract vital information from a large document.

Remember to review the extracted KLPs. Get your KLP content checked, edited, and approved by a subject matter expert (SME) before using it in the microlearning content. A good microlearning platform will give you the option to extract KLPs with their AI assisted algorithms. This makes your job easier and the content more powerful!

Build supporting content around your KLPs by asking a simple question:

Do I have the right content (information, knowledge, skills, examples, etc.) to support my KLP?

Principle 2. Keep the Lessons Short

Information in working memory needs to be limited. So, include only 1-3 KLPs in each microlearning session, and ensure each session does not go beyond 10 minutes.

Remember that:

  • Microlearning is meant to break down information into smaller, digestible pieces.
  • The learning must be reinforced over time, helping learners retain and apply knowledge.

Principle 3. Deliver Content that is Relevant

Your content must directly support the KLP. The content must be relevant to the learner’s job, reflecting real-life scenarios that he or she may encounter at work. When faced with a similar situation in real life, the learner must be able to confidently apply the learning to deliver expected results.

Lessons that are not relevant to the learner’s job tasks are a waste of time and money. You certainly don’t want that!

Principle 4. Remind Your Learners of the Importance of Content

Informing and reminding learners about the importance of a KLP provides them the context and motivation to learn. This builds interest and makes them engage with your microlearning lessons, resulting in enhanced retention of learning.

Emphasizing the significance of a KLP helps:

  • Align individual learning objectives with the organizational goals
  • Foster a culture of continuous learning resulting in a genuine learning organisation

This gets you better training outcomes, improved performance, and the desired behavioral change of your workforce.

Principle 5. Prompt an Action or Thought

Combating the forgetting curve means more than just repeating information/knowledge. Unless the learner applies the information/knowledge in the workplace, it remains meaningless.

When the learner applies the learning, the information gets embedded in his or her long-term memory. This solidification of memory is what you must aim at.

To prompt action/thought, provide your learners with opportunities to apply the information in ways that are relevant to their job roles. You can do this through microlearning that offers gamification, tests/quizzes, questions, and many other variants of assessments. The power of ‘retrieval practice’ helps learners strengthen their memory and become more confident.

To conclude, the 5 principles of reinforcing content will help your learners strengthen recall, gain mastery, and improve their performance, resulting in a sustainable and high training ROI – the ultimate goal of every training manager!

microlearning

How Microlearning Effectively Battles the Problem of ‘Forgetting’ the Training Inputs

One of the biggest challenges businesses face is their workforce forgetting what’s learned during training. This badly impacts organisational functioning across levels!

You don’t want the forgetfulness factor obstructing your company’s performance and growth.

This is where short bursts of training with microlearning comes to the rescue. Microlearning helps you build strong memory in your learners on an on-going basis. The multiple benefits include higher productivity, superior quality of work, risk reduction, and a solid Training ROI.

This calls for making microlearning an integral part of your training initiatives!

Let’s dig deeper…

How Do Training Spends Get Wasted?

An average company spends about $1,200 per employee on training every year. Sadly, over 75% of this training spend is lost when people forget what’s learned. Lack of reinforcement is to be blamed here.

The ‘forgetting curve theory’ by Ebbinghaus tells us how knowledge deteriorates over time, and often quite quickly. It is estimated that approximately 60% of what’s learned by an individual is forgotten within the first 48 hours. After a week, up to 90% of learning is forgotten. 

At workplace, this means that your learners could forget about 90% of training inputs within a week. That’s scary!

Forgetting Curve Explained

It is human for people to forget things like names, dates, appointments, where things are kept, concepts or information and so on.

However, this happening at work place can be painfully costly! Adverse impact includes productivity loss, mistakes, lapses, accidents, loss of business, and even legal issues. That’s a heavy price to pay!

Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist, quantified the rate at which people forget. He also developed techniques to help people remember.

The graph below shows the decline in memory retention after a learning event.

microlearning

The Cost of Forgetting- a Case Study

A Fortune 500 company spent $130,000 to create a highly interactive e-learning module to launch its newly revamped Code of Conduct. Over 40,000 employees took the program. The total cost of rolling out this training was over $2.1 million.

The program received a thumping applause with satisfaction rating of 4.3 on a scale of 5. In fact, over 80 percent employees reported that this training would help them do their jobs better!

But, their memory of the training faded in 3 months. This was found out when a questionnaire was rolled out to a sample of 500 learners after 3 months. The result: Less than 50% recalled the major points in the newly launched code of conduct. Only 10% of what they had learned was recalled and remembered by them.

This meant that out of $ 2.1 million, a staggering $ 1.9 million was wasted because people simply forgot!

Isn’t that horrifying?

How to Reverse the Forgetting Curve

Ebbinghaus discovered two things- (1) the rate at which we forget, (2) the learning curve- the opposite of the forgetting curve.

He along with Arthur Bills suggested that spaced repetition, active recall, and practice helped memory retention, thereby, reversing the forgetting curve.

In the case study cited above, if the employees had received a little reminder or questions after a 2 days asking them- ‘Please recall the code of conduct principles you learned’. This would strengthen their memory.

In other words, a simple question asked a few days after a learning event helps reinforce what’s learned. It results in a positive mental connection by which forgetfulness is prevented. It sets the ball rolling for a learner to actually learn and remember.

A learner’s rate of forgetting and ability to learn depends on the difficulty level of the topic and the innate psychological abilities of a learner.

Studies have proven that spaced repetition helps reduce perceived difficulty-level, enhances learning capability, and boosts memory retention. It helps a learner remember, and also gain mastery on what’s learned. Plus, it works well for learners of all ages and abilities.

What a Good Microlearning Platform Does

To achieve terrific results, you need a robust microlearning platform that’s fast, fun and effective.

A good microlearning platform uses the spaced repetition concept very effectively. A robust microlearning platform optimally uses the concept of Spaced Repetition to help your learner learn, retain and recall information or knowledge/skills. This results in mastery over one’s job skills. 

The inbuilt algorithm in a microlearning platform helps you deliver a high ‘probability of recall’. The probability of recall goes up with spaced repetition. It helps you- (1) provide repeated exposure to learning materials, (2) keep a tab on the elapsed time since their last review/reiteration, and (3) repeat periodically & adequately based on the item difficulty as per each learner’s needs. This is how microlearning becomes adaptive and individualized.

An adaptive microlearning platform helps you tailor-make the learning process for each individual learner. The reviews or reiterations/ reinforcements are done using questions, quizzes and tests that help a learner recall, and strengthen each one’s memory.

The spaced repetition algorithm is based on the findings of how human memory works. This triggers cognitively-motivated scheduling of spaced repetition-i.e. ‘reiteration’ and ‘reviews’ are spaced over time.

Content is not rushed! Training starts with easier concepts and gradually advances to more difficult ones. Slow learners and laggards are thus taken care of in an adaptive learning format.

Learning can also be matched to individual learning goals, and pace of learning. The platform auto-adjusts in such a way that slow learners get exposed to learning content at the appropriate difficulty level more frequently than quick learners.

An effective microlearning platform will include a gamification feature which makes learning an engaging and motivating exercise. It should also have an easy and wider access to people at any point of time and place.

Integrating Microlearning with Overall Training Initiative

Before you integrate microlearning into your training framework, you must get a good understanding of what microlearning can and can’t do for you.

The crux of this understanding:

  1. Microlearning isn’t a quick-fix or a replacement of your learning initiative. It’s a great training tool, and a fabulous way to build strong memory retention of work-related training.
  2. Spaced repetition and retrieval practice are two concepts that are at the core of a good microlearning platform.
  3. Microlearning cannot replace your long-duration regular training programs- classroom or e-Learning training. It is particularly useful to supplement, reinforce, augment and remediate your training initiatives.
  4. Progressive organizations the world over are adopting microlearning for a sustainable, high Training ROI.

To conclude, forgetting curve is a real problem that microlearning solves very effectively. Integrating microlearning with your overall training approach is a sure-fire solution to boosting your Training ROI.

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