A growing body of research shows that when it comes to learning, short bursts are most effective.
Micro-learning experiences have become even more important today as many of us continue working remotely. For one thing, maintaining attention for more than 30 minutes is more challenging in a virtual setting than in a face-to-face setting. Moreover, Covid-19’s impact on businesses has necessitated rapid business pivots that require professionals to pick up new skills quickly as part of just-in-time training programmes.
Talking heads that go on for 30 to 60 minutes, dispensing a multitude of performance objectives in one sitting, albeit with audience participation, tend to diminish attention, comprehension and knowledge retention.
On the other hand, micro-lessons are designed to be focused. Maintaining attention, and ensuring comprehension and retention should be a breeze.
The exact duration of remote micro-lessons is hotly debated. Some experts say you shouldn’t go on for longer than 3 to 7 minutes. Others say 6 to 12 minutes is acceptable.
We advise going for no more than 15 minutes per lesson with the following content guidelines in mind:
– Focus on one skill set per lesson.
– Limit the programme to one or two performance objectives.
– Move beyond lectures. Instead, show and tell. Keep it informal.
– Inspire learners to translate learning into action and suggest ways for them to do so.
Here are some tips for designing effective micro-lessons:
1. Know your Audience
Before working on the details, remember that the basics still apply: know your audience and the best way to maintain their attention. Surveys can help you become more familiar with learners’ personas, thus helping you determine topic choices, learning and performance objectives, and the length and tone of your micro-lessons.
For instance, studies show that millennial workers gravitate towards programmes that are customised to their needs and informal, so bear this in mind as you design your course.
2. Connect with Them from the Get-go
Time constraints and the pressures of everyday life can make learning a chore for many. Figure out how you can engage them within the first 30 seconds of the lesson to make them want to continue.
Connect with them emotionally as well as objectively to convince them of the benefits of the learning experience. In other words, implicitly tell them what’s in it for them and why they should care.
3. Be Deliberate about Engaging Them
Present your material in interesting ways. Text-heavy slides and continuous talking won’t work. Instead, use varied and creative approaches to make key concepts stick.
The lesson should resemble content on social media – engaging and media-rich.
Combine slide decks, docs, instructional videos and infographics with techniques such as storytelling, polls, demonstrations, and even gamification to make learning memorable.
4. Get to the Point
Background information and theories can certainly be useful. However, people looking for just-in-time solutions are not likely to be receptive to anything but the ‘how-to.’ Make sure you get to the point quickly. Provide contextual information sparingly – just enough to help them execute the ‘how-to’ competently.
5. Help Them Translate Learning into Action
Micro-lessons, no matter how succinct, must inspire learners to put their learning into action.
Provide them with a few suggestions to try out their learning in their next work task or project as a first step towards becoming more competent.