Over the past 5 years, Micro Learning has come into its own, moving from nascent buzzword to the de facto standard when planning next-gen learning rollouts. But is this trend helping, or hurting? Is Micro Learning delivering on the whiz-bang promise of more learning in less time? Of course, it depends. Your goals and Micro Learning design will ultimately dictate the efficacy of the strategy. 

In this second post of our three-part series, we’ll look at where Micro Learning design often goes wrong. 

Micro Learning Pitfall #2: Your Approach is New, but Your Design Isn’t  

We see this all the time. A Learning team is excited to move to a more agile Micro Learning approach, but they haven’t factored the new medium into their design, resulting in a naive implementation that creates what we refer to as bookend bloat. 

Consider the tried-and-true structure of a traditional eLearning lesson: 

  • Provide Learners an agenda 
  • Make Learning Objectives clear 
  • Deliver the learning content itself 
  • Provide a Knowledge Check 
  • Recap the learning content and Learning Objectives. 

Let’s set aside the length of the learning content for a moment. How much time is usually spent on each of those four bookend steps? For the sake of our discussion, let’s be generous and assume you can accomplish each in an average of a minute each resulting in four minutes spent on bookend content. If your total seat time for the lesson is 30 minutes, 4-6 minutes is a very reasonable amount of time to spend on steps. 

But what happens when we carry over this old paradigm to a Micro-Learning method? If we convert our 30-minute lesson into 6 “micro” lessons, each complete with traditional bookends, things get ugly very quickly. 

We’ve suddenly taken our original 30-minute seat time to 50 minutes (26 minutes of content plus our 4-minute bookend content 6 times over) just by doing what Instructional Designers have been trained to do for decades. Even if we allow for the possibility that the length of the bookend content will shrink, let’s say we are able to cut each step in half down to 30 seconds, we still bloat: the bookend content that was once 4 minutes will now comprise 12 minutes across our 6 lessons. 

The Key Takeaway: A lazy implementation of Micro Learning methodology will likely bloat overall Seat Time. Worse yet, this rarely gets noticed. Leaders are so enamored with the notion that lessons are now only five minutes each that no one does the math on the total Seat Time for all the content. All the while, Learners are fatigued by the repetitive bookend content they must sit through in order to access the same amount of learning content. Do it today: add up your total seat time and see if you’ve really gained efficiency. 

In the meantime, stay tuned for part 3 of the series next week where we discuss how two other key benefits of Micro Learning are often unintentionally subverted as training is deployed. 



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