Micro-learning is on trend for a reason—it’s what today’s learners want and need. It’s the learning equivalent of instant gratification.

Put yourself in your learners’ shoes. Let’s say you want to learn how to make a perfect soft-boiled egg. You search the web and the results show videos ranging from 5 minutes to 55 minutes. Which video are you going to choose? Most people would choose the 5-minute video.

Your learners are just like you. When they see a super-long course, they feel overwhelmed and think to themselves, do I really have time for this? 

If you’re used to creating one long course that covers a topic from A to Z you may be wondering how to make the switch to micro-learning. Here are a couple of tips for designing effective, micro-learning courses your learners will love.

Stick To One Learning Objective Per Course

Most lengthy e-learning courses start out with a bulleted list that details the learning objectives the course aims to help learners achieve. With micro-learning, you’ll want to whittle that down to just one. 

Many instructional designers struggle with this. Only one learning objective? Yes. One. With micro-learning, it’s important to stay laser-focused. But remember: the idea is to create a series of 5-minute micro-learning courses that learners can take one after the other as part of a learning path or a curriculum, instead of packing tons of content into a single course. So if you’ve got multiple objectives, that’s fine! Just make a separate micro-learning course for each.

Cut Out Non-Essential Content

Once you’ve identified the learning objective, use it as a guide for determining what to include in your course. Ask yourself, do learners absolutely need to know this to achieve the learning objective? If the answer is no, cut it out. 

This can be easier said than done—especially if you’re working with a Subject Matter Expert (SME) who’s convinced everything is essential. If you want to keep your SME happy without going over the 5-minute mark, try suggesting “learn more” buttons that give learners access to additional information and links to external resources. That way you’re empowering learners who want to dig deeper without overwhelming those who just need the basics. 

If you’re still struggling to convince your SME that this is the way to go, remind them that just because you include something in the course, doesn’t mean learners will retain it! Tell them that by sticking to the essentials, you’re increasing the likelihood that learners will retain key messages.

For more tips on curating your content, check out this article: The Dos and Don’ts of Separating Need-to-Know from Nice-to-Know.

The Bottom Line

Your learners are much more likely to engage with course content if they know it’ll take them 5 minutes (or less!) to complete. And if those 5-minute courses teach them relevant skills they can apply to their jobs, they may even end up going through a bunch in one sitting—much like when you sit down to watch one episode of your favorite TV show and somehow end up binge-watching an entire season.

By breaking your content down into bite-sized chunks, you’re empowering learners to take control of their learning experience and decide how much content to consume at a time. And when learners are in the driver’s seat, they’re typically more engaged, leading to better learning outcomes. So everybody wins!

Convinced micro-learning is the way to go but not sure where to start? Check out these resources for more information and inspiration:

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