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Microlearning Course Examples and Best Practices to Inspire You

Teaching a new skill in 10 minutes or less, that's the microlearning concept, which improves retention! Learn how to implement it in your online course.

Microlearning Course Examples and Best Practices to Inspire You

In these days of 30-second soundbites and 24-hour news channels, it’s no wonder that so many people experience sensory overload. Educational theorists have known about sensory overload since the late 1980s. More accurately called “Cognitive Load Theory,” this principle suggests that the human brain can only take in a bit of information at any one time. This is a big reason why microlearning courses have grown in popularity in recent years.

Microlearning principles work in alignment with the brain, as the best microlearning course examples demonstrate. This post introduces you to microlearning. It also explains the benefits of this educational principle, in addition to giving you a look at the principles behind it.

Finally, you’ll get some tips on how you can incorporate microlearning principles into any online courseware that you create.

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Practical Microlearning Course Examples: What Is Microlearning? What Are the Benefits of Microlearning Courses? What Are the Best Practices in Microlearning? How to Implement Microlearning Principles in Your Online Courses
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Practical Microlearning Course Examples: What Is Microlearning?

Microlearning provides learners with short lessons that laser in on what they need to know right now. Typically, these “micro” lessons teach one, maybe two concepts at a time. Often, microlearning relies on what is called “just-in-time learning.” Just-in-time learning gives learners the information they need at the exact time they need it.

Google’s feature “People also ask” is a good microlearning course example. Each snippet quickly and succinctly answers web searchers’ questions. These snippets don’t offer long explanations of the whole subject. Instead, they teach users something in bite-sized chunks.

Let’s give you a hypothetical example. Here’s a possible future snippet ala Hotmart.

Microlearning allows course creators to take complex topics and break them down into bite-sized “chunks.” These chunks offer learners a “micro” look at a topic, yet allow them to see how the chunk would fit into the larger thematic whole. Students can access and review these asynchronous microcourses any time they want, as often as they want.

Typically, the best microlearning course examples that we’ve seen limit instruction time to one to ten minutes. In the time that it takes to have a coffee break, online learners can finish one small unit of instruction in their online course.

Microlearning represents one of the biggest trends in online education.

What Are the Benefits of Microlearning Courses?

While long-form learning formats also have their place, microlearning courses offer users some real advantages.

Small bits of information are easier to retain because they don’t cause cognitive overload. Because these courses only last a few minutes at a time, they don’t tax learners’ working memories.

They allow online course participants to take advantage of time that would otherwise be wasted. For example, people can learn something new while they wait in the grocery line or while they commute to work on the train. Because the lessons aren’t long, learners don’t start a lesson, only to have to pick it up later to finish it.

Additionally, microlearning courses acknowledge our present reality. That is, most people have short attention spans these days. According to TIME, the human attention span has gone from 12 seconds to just eight seconds.

This has a great deal to do with the ubiquity of mobile devices and short content platforms, like TikTok. Rather than fight this tendency, microlearning works with it.

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What Are the Best Practices in Microlearning?

As with any learning theory, microlearning comes with its own set of best practices guidelines. If you’re interested in implementing microlearning into your online courseware, you’ll want to keep these practices in mind.

1. Use gamification, as well as videos, to increase engagement

Gamification is one of the most common course content formats and is a way to add game-like elements to your course content. This makes it more engaging. For example, each time learners reach a new level, give them a badge, or put their name on a leaderboard if more than one person is taking the course at the same time.

If you can create an online learning game, it’s even better. Video games have become popular in the classroom because they make learning fun.

The rationale behind gamification and videos is also sound. In video games, players can’t move up to the next level until they master the level they’re on. Even if you can’t create your own game, adding gamification features like badges allows you to bring the same experience to the learners in your online course.

Additionally, creating video content also increases engagement. Rather than relying on written text to convey your message, create video instructions for it instead.

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2. Use the courses you already have to create microlearning courses

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to create a microlearning course. Just take a close look at the materials you already have.

It’s likely that you’ll see ways you can break the material down into smaller chunks. From there, you can create an outline and a syllabus for your course.

3. Use reinforcement and quizzes to test learning

Repetition and review create mastery. Adding elements like quizzes or opportunities to review at the end of a unit of study ensures higher retention rates.

4. Understand what subjects work best with microlearning courses

Not all subjects are created equal. More challenging subjects require longer, more involved material.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to do away with microlearning altogether. You can break up more complicated subjects into smaller pieces and then, create a unit of study from those smaller pieces.

You can also use just-in-time features within larger courses that answer questions that students have. Just as Google’s snippets provide quick answers to questions while you’re studying a deeper subject, a just-in-time feature is a microlearning course example that would work with longer, more complex subjects.

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How to Implement Microlearning Principles in Your Online Courses

Using mircolearning principles is simple in theory, but probably more complex in implementation. The principles above give you some idea of how you should approach your course creation.

We will offer you one additional suggestion as a guideline. This suggestion will help you take the information above and apply it to your course creation efforts.

Think about how comics are created. Each panel features a picture with descriptive action, plus some explainer text. Through a combination of words and text, the writer and artist move the story forward in small chunks.

Now, consider this. When you read the printer manual that accompanies your printer, it features the same setup. That is, each panel has a picture showing one step and some supporting text to help you understand the step. Most people do not realize this, but the layout of educational comics represents some of the best microlearning course examples around.

When you create your online course videos, each video should include one step, one panel in the educational comic, if you will. By using the comics example as a guideline, you avoid putting too much information in one video or one chunk.

Once you create material based on this suggestion, you can then put together assets like quizzes, reviews, and other similar features.

That’s how to implement microlearning principles in your courseware creation in a nutshell.

If you’d like to learn more about creating online educational videos, be sure to check out this blog post.