How to Create ‘Fail-Safe’ Microlearning Lessons

Let’s admit it.

The ultimate goal of any training is improved performance. But why do we sometimes fail to achieve it in microlearning despite our best efforts? The reason, many a time, is lack of motivation in the learner!

Adhering to a microlearning format without keeping learner motivation in mind can be risky. Though spaced repetition, retrieval tests, recall, and confidence-based assessment are important, motivation is the key driver.

Let’s first understand why motivation matters. Then we can move on to the 3 failure points faced by a learner, and how to overcome them!

Why Learner Motivation Matters

The learner’s motivation matters because for learning to be effective, the learner has to be motivated to learn. In other words, he or she needs to “want to learn”.

Remember the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”? The same holds true for training. You can provide beautiful resources to your employees, but unless there is motivation on his part, it’s all in vain.

Motivation levels can vary for different individuals, ranging from least interested to extremely interested.

Great content itself can sometimes trigger motivation! For instance, a set of young doctors would simply love to hear what a highly experienced surgeon has to say about a certain complex procedure. When motivation of these young doctors runs high, so will be their attention span and will to learn!

But sometimes, even motivated learners fail to learn and recall the training content. Surprised? Read on!

Can Motivated Learners Fail (to succeed)?

Learners can be either need-oriented or want-oriented.

The need-oriented learner considers training a waste of time, but goes through it simply because it’s mandatory – he needs to take the training because the organization demands it. Given a choice, he doesn’t want to go through it.

The want-oriented learner, on the other hand, badly wants to learn. He is all excited about performing better or getting promoted. Here, even though the training is  mandatory, the learner is highly motivated and wants to master it.

Surprisingly, both these categories of learners can fail in a microlearning lesson. Let’s now look into the reasons for this failure.

The 3 failure points

Can a learner fail despite their wanting or needing to learn? The answer is YES, they can fail. A learner could still fail if she/he:

  1. Lacks self-efficacy, having doubts about their ability to perform or change
  2. Gets overwhelmed and panicky over the extent of change or learning expected of her/him (expectations)
  3. Does not practice enough because the self-control element to deliver falls short

Knowing these 3 failure points helps you craft fail-safe microlearning lessons.

Overcoming The 3 Failure Points

Let us take the example of a salesperson, John, who has recently joined the sales team of an agriculture equipment manufacturing company.

John needs to deal with highly knowledgeable customers who walk into the store to explore different types of agricultural equipment. They come with a wealth of experience and have very specific queries that need specialized and expert knowledge to be answered.

While John has gone through an elaborate 3-week classroom training, it does not really make him an expert. What’s needed here is subject matter expertise.

  • He needs to know and recall information about more than 30 models of agriculture products manufactured by his company and how to handle objections from customers about them. How can the company help John and other new salespeople talk knowledgeably with ‘know all’ customers and answer their queries?

Through a microlearning app, with the concepts of spaced repetition, retrieval testing, and confidence-based assessments applied in each microlearning lesson.

  • The microlearning app offers over 60 microlearning lessons that help John learn the features, benefits, and go over 1000 customer objections and questions/scenarios.
  • These lessons are designed to help John succeed by helping him build self-efficacy, meet expectations, and be in control.

1. Builds Self-efficacy

  • The microlearning app provides scores after each gaming microlearning scenario. John accumulates his scores, and grows from ‘Beginner’ to ‘Advanced’ for each sales product and scenario.
  • The app displays his rank among his peers.
  • John uses the knowledge and skills gained in the gaming scenarios to handle potential customers, thus improving his performance.

2. Helps Meet Expectations

  • John gains clarity and confidence over time, and his sense of getting overwhelmed gradually decreases.
  • The app monitors John’s success rate in the gaming activities. Its adaptive feature uses in-game remediation to adjust the difficulty level of the game based on his needs. This helps him hone his skills with each customer interaction.
  • John is kept motivated and challenged as he feels he can ‘get it’ right. His frustration disappears as he no longer feels overwhelmed.

3. Enables Self-control

  • The microlearning offers John plenty of practice opportunities on each of the 30 product types, objection-handling, and FAQs.
  • Each sales scenario and product are presented in a variety of games.
  • John sharpens his skills by practicing and reviewing each product information and scenario. The app helps him set reminders to practice the required lessons periodically over the next 2 months.

How To Create A Microlearning Map With Motivation In-built

Given here is a format for a microlearning map for John, that includes a column for the motivational aspect.

Department: Store sales Job position: Sales Executive
KPI segment: Sales process of a lawn mover Key performance Indicator: Product and process knowledge of a product line
Task performance Objective-(less than 3) Motivational aspect
Handle walk-in customers, and appointments for potential sales of 3 different models of lawn movers available. Understand the query, and handle objections accurately. A specific technical query is shown on the screen. The learner is required to accurately identify the nature of the query(100% accuracy)within 6 minutes, and provide answers relevant to the query. Recall the features, specifications, and benefits of each lawn mover model.Handle customer objections, and provide the right information, reasons/incentives to buy.Information provided must help apotential customer make an informed decision regarding the most appropriate lawn mover. Make the identification of the right product, the right features, the right specifications and the right benefits into a gaming format. The learner needs to find the right answers or combinations.

In the above example of a microlearning map, the motivational aspect is enhanced using game elements in the course. The failure points are taken care of, and fears put to rest! Learners gain confidence with each lesson and scenario, with each microlearning lesson giving them a ‘You’ve got this!’ feeling as they progress.

To conclude, you can make your microlearning lesson a success by identifying and plugging the failure points. Learners’ apprehensions can be overcome with the right strategy and a relevant microlearning map with the motivational element factored in.

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