Five tips on micro-learning from San Diego

11 May, 2018 in News

The second day at ATD in San Diego began with a best-practice session on gamification. It was a stimulating session that mixed concrete tips and examples with a more in-depth examination of game mechanics. Views on gamification differ widely from country to country, and my table companions from the Netherlands, Japan and the Middle East had very different experiences of introducing games in education. These can range from traditional quizzes to escape rooms and this exploration of humanity through literature: Fantastic places, unhuman humans.
I also listened in as the creators of “The learning innovation podcast” talked about how they used podcasting as a means of education. Podcasting is an interesting medium for learning, and has become a massive phenomenon in the US. Thirty-eight percent of Americans aged 34–55 listen to podcasts every month! The advantage is that an internal podcast can be quickly produced and break through barriers and inform an entire company – a bit like a newsletter in audio form. Check out their own podcast here.


Micro-learning was the hot topic on the second day of the expo. There were far more participants during the panel discussion about micro-learning than at any other session I attended, and during the discussion the participants were asked more than 100 questions via a mobile app. Here are the key recommendations from the lecture:


  1. Length. There is no ideal length of time for micro-learning. It is not possible to define micro-learning in terms of a certain number of minutes per module. It depends entirely on the needs of the recipient.
  2. Don’t try to take a macro-learning course and break it up into smaller parts. It is better to go back to the individual goals of the training and build from there.
  3. Preparation is vital. Micro-learning can fail if you do not prepare the participants so that they know what to expect – if they expect to have a “regular” training session it may come as a culture shock.
  4. Lower your goals. Don’t try to make the training sessions short – set lower goals! If the goals are lower they will require shorter training. By carefully limiting the subject area you can ensure the training fits into the required time.
  5. Complex but focused. Micro-learning can be used to teach complex skills! It is a myth that it can only be used for easy subjects. But on the other hand it cannot be used for diffuse or diverse subjects – micro-learning should focus on a subject and repeat it to ensure effective learning.


To summarise, you could say that the panel was unanimous on one question: Limit, limit, limit! Micro-learning requires you to tighten your focus and tackle one thing at a time.


You can find more information from the panel on micro-learning here:

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