Transitioning to eLearning? Try a Microlearning Approach!

Converting face-to-face training to eLearning offers opportunities to fine-tune content and narrow the focus. The eLearning Guild’s books of tips on moving to eLearning offer hundreds of suggestions, many of which cite short, engaging, and tightly focused modules: Microlearning. This approach might just be the right fit for classroom training that you are transitioning to eLearning.

Remember to focus

eLearning should be short, to-the-point, well organized—same as an in-class course.

Randy Meredith, Huntington Bank

In a face-to-face class, an instructor might veer off on a tangent, tell a story, answer several questions—and only then refocus on the material at hand. That’s not possible or acceptable in eLearning; learners will disengage if eLearning is bloated, boring, or badly organized.

Microlearning is by definition narrowly focused. Each module must be self-contained—including enough information to answer a learner’s immediate need. Yet it cannot be hours long.

Begin the process of transitioning face-to-face training to eLearning by examining the learning objectives and ensuring that each online lesson focuses on one or more of these well-defined goals—without meandering into related, but nonessential, topics. This related content can be offered instead as linked, curated resources.

Short and snappy

Keep your content short, snappy, and interesting. It is very easy for online learners to get distracted and lose their motivation.

Ryan McInnes, The Learning Rooms

While a classroom session might last an hour or two—or all day—eLearning is best consumed in smaller doses. Learners are likely to be fitting in lessons between other tasks or during forced downtime, like a commute. It’s essential to create eLearning that will engage learners’ attention but doesn’t require an enormous time commitment.

While there’s no set limit on the length of microlearning, the approach, which emphasizes short, engaging content, could be a great fit for classroom training that is moving online. Some face-to-face training won’t fit this mold, which is fine: Different moments of learning need require different types of instruction, whether online or in person.

It’s not all video

Think minimum necessary. In a classroom, we might build in more history and concepts. But make the eLearning course more experiential with activities that engage the learner—role-plays, quizzes, etc.—to get them to think about how to engage with and use the content.

Beth McGoldrick, RiverSource Insurance

In many eLearning professionals’ minds, microlearning is synonymous with video. But short, focused learning can take a variety of formats. And offering learners a choice of formats improves the accessibility and appeal of eLearning.

Short videos can definitely be part of the transition package, but don’t neglect other options: Chats, games, scenarios and role-play exercises, podcasts, and more. Any of these formats can be used to package microlearning.

Remember the learners

Break the learning objectives down into smaller chunks or learning modules. Do not try to mirror the classroom content and timing. Breaking the content down into small chunks or modules allows the learner to maximize the benefits of eLearning. The learner can choose how many modules to complete based on available time. The learner can easily revisit and target specific skills and concepts where additional review may be needed during the program—or months or years later.

Joe Ilvento, Commvault

Learners use eLearning differently from the way they take in-person classes. Rather than expecting to cover a lot of ground in each session, learners might turn to eLearning modules in the workflow, hoping to get a quick answer to a question or solution to a problem.

Even when introducing new material or skills or teaching complex topics, learners are likely to complete smaller chunks of eLearning at each session than they might in a training that is held in multiple one- or two-hour classes.

Building in this flexibility when transitioning classroom training to eLearning considers learners’ needs and the constraints on their time—making it more likely that they will engage with the training and succeed. Remember to build in a robust search function, an index or library, and an easy way for learners to build a logical progression of eLearning modules—and track their progress. 

Explore microlearning design

Take a deeper dive into microlearning design and explore whether this approach is a good match for the classroom content that you are transitioning to eLearning. Explore further at the Microlearning Design Summit, a co-located event with DevLearn 2018 Conference & Expo, October 24 – 26, 2018, in Las Vegas.

Download The eLearning Guild’s free tips books to learn more about converting classroom training to eLearning from your learning and development peers: Moving to eLearning: 154 Tips on Getting Started and Moving to eLearning: 283 Tips on Shifting Content and Experiences. A third book on the topic will be released later this year.

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