Using Microlearning Modules to Expedite Course Development

Microlearning has received a lot of buzz recently. It has been touted as a great way or learners to squeeze in some learning during short periods of down time Could microlearning be an effective way to expedite development of full courses?

Typically, many course developers use the ADDIE methodology for course development. ADDIE is a waterfall methodology, meaning that you must complete all five of its steps before you have a complete deliverable course.

ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. In the Analysis phase, the instructional designer (ID) works with subject matter experts to determine what skills to teach and the order to teach those skills. The ID defines course objectives–typically 3-6 objectives, depending on the course length.

In the Design phase, the ID designs the learning materials–presentations, modules, labs, and exercises the learners use in the course. In a traditional course setting, these activities each take 15-30 (or more) minutes to complete. An instructor can present the material live typically using PowerPoint slides. E-learning is another popular alternative as it makes the course available to the learner on demand when the learner is ready and able to learn. After the presentation, the learner practices the new skills learned through labs, simulations, and exercises. Microlearning modules and exercises, on the other hand, are typically three to five minutes in length. The smaller chunks could be more versatile as they can be strung together to form longer modules for traditional course delivery or used singly to allow a learner to learn on the go, or during short periods of down time.

With the rise of attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), learning becomes more palatable with microlearning modules. Such learners can absorb more and learn it faster through the shorter microlearning modules.

In the Development phase, the ID develops the learning materials for the course. The materials may include:

  • PowerPoint slide decks
  • E-Learning modules
  • Labs
  • Simulations
  • Exercises
  • Skills Assessments

The key to the effectiveness of microlearning activities is that they can be completed in three to five minutes. If the materials can be designed with branching or artificial intelligence based on the learner’s responses to the exercises or assessments, they can provide feedback to the learner. For the ID, microlearning modules can be developed in any order and then used in the desired order, allowing for rapid development

In the Implementation phase, the course is presented or taught to a pilot group or groups of learners. This phase allows the ID to shake out any issues in the course that may negatively impact training or better enhance the course.

In the Evaluation phase, the ID reviews the feedback received and makes any final changes needed before the course goes live for all learners. In some environments, continuous evaluation occurs and changes to courses are made frequently to keep them fresh. Continuous evaluation is especially prevalent in agile environments where rapid change is the norm.

Microlearning promises to make training more versatile and accessible to more people. It may further provide rapid development benefits to IDs responsible for course developemnt. The module developed for microlearning can also be used when more time is available for learning. If the learner has 30 minutes to spend, the learner can easily complete five to six microlearning modules easily. Microlearning puts the learner in the proverbial driver’s seat.

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