Micro Learning Modules Speed Development

Micro-learning in action. Using cell phone to review a list of course modules.
Micro-learning in Action

Introduction

Micro learning has received attention recently. Can micro learning modules speed development of full courses? Let’s look at how courses are developed.

Many course designers use ADDIE for development. ADDIE is a sequential development method. ADDIE stands for:

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Develop
  • Implement
  • Evaluate

In the following sections, we discuss each phase and how to use micro learning modules in each phase.

Analyzing the Needs

First, comes the Analysis phase. In the Analysis phase, the designer works with subject matter experts (SMEs). The designer determines:

  • What skills to teach
  • Order to teach those skills.

The designer defines course goals. A course usually has 3-6 goals. The actual number depends on course length. A 40-hour course may only have three goals. A six-week course may have six. It’s important to spend as much time as needed in the Analysis phase. Allow enough time to ensure designers understand the needs from their SMEs. Armed with this information, the designer can chunk out the topics into potential micro learning modules. Skills are broken into simpler pieces that lend themselves to micro learning modules.

Designing with Micro Learning Modules

Next, comes the Design phase. The course designer designs the micro learning modules. These include:

  • Presentations
  • Exercises
  • Simulations
  • Labs
  • Assessments

The designs at this stage are usually mock ups. The mock ups are often called storyboards. Development team members use the mock ups to create the course materials.

Developing with Micro Learning Modules

Third, comes the Development phase. The development team creates the micro learning modules. These teams often include:

  • Graphic designers
  • Web designers
  • Web developers
  • Animators
  • Photographers
  • Voice overs
  • Video production specialists

Micro learning modules are extremely effective. Learners can complete modules in three to five minutes. Modules can provide feedback when designed with branching. For the designer, micro learning modules speed development by allowing development of modules in any order.

Implementing Micro Learning Modules

Fourth, the Implentation phase is the real test. In the Implementation phase, pilot groups of learners take the course. This is like a software beta test. This phase allows the designer ensure the course meets analysis needs. It is best to implement the course with a wide variety of students. Ensure member of all target audiences are in the course.

Evaluating Your Micro Learning Course

Finally, we have the Evaluation phase. When the pilot test is complete, evaluate the results. Did the learners attain the skills you intended to teach? Evaluating the assessments the test class took are a good indicator of success. This is especially true, if the assessments were vetted by your subject matter experts. Do materials need to be changed or made clearer?

If so, go back to the drawing board and make the needed changes. You may need an extra test run. Courses will go through a regular ADDIE cycle a few years. If your courses change every few months, you may find that the ADDIE method may not work well for you. In that case, consider the SAM design method. It is similar to the design methods used by software engineers.

They work in six-week periods called sprints. They design only as much as can be designed in six weeks, Designers have a deliverable product in six weeks. The initial release may not teach all the desired skills. Another sprint, brings a new revision of the course. The new course includes more skills. The process is iterative. Repeat the iteration as needed to deliver the full course. This design approach provides many methods.

Benefits of Micro-Learning Modules

Micro-learning modules are usually three to five minutes long. The smaller chunks are more versatile. Course materials are available to learners on demand. Learners can learn at their own time and pace. Learners can view presentations of new material. They can practice new skills learned through:

  • Lectures
  • Videos
  • Labs
  • Simulations
  • Exercises

They better fit the longer time frames of traditional courses. Thus, they can do double-duty. Micro learning design is frequently used in short workshop courses.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD are on the rise. Learning becomes more palatable with micro learning modules for those with ADHD. Such learners can absorb more and learn faster through the shorter modules.

Micro learning promises to make training accessible to more people. If a learner has 30 minutes to spend, they can complete five modules. If they only have five minutes, they can still finish a module. Put your learners in the driver’s seat with micro-learning modules!

Resources

Dillon, A. Microlearning Design Model — 8 Steps to Success

Hughes, A. 5 Best Practices for Designing A Great Microlearning Experience

Hodell, C. All About ADDIE

Learning Heroes. An Introduction to SAM for Instructional Designers

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