What to Do About MicroLearning?

Ah, we finally have a new buzzword. I got the standard email yesterday: “We’ve got to do something about <insert buzzword here>” The buzzword of the day is “MicroLearning.” We’ve been talking about “chunking” content for years without getting much traction but dressed up in a new, more grown-up word, it gets taken more seriously. That’s cool. It’s still a good concept. People don’t have time for epic courses. By breaking down content into smaller “micro” parts, they are easier to consume in a hurry and they can be targeted to the right people, the right task and the right delivery channel.

There’s a problem though. It was always lurking behind the chunking conversation. Our current process for delivering learning content: The LMS via SCORM is too heavy handed for the scale we will be working in. Imagine that launching a course takes longer than actually doing the course. Imagine that loading many SCORM based microlearnings into an LMS being more cumbersome than it is worth. How do we track these things in a reasonable manner?

Here are some options:


In the LMS you can load the url for the content and let the user click complete when they are done. This is the simplest idea and I always defer to the simplest but it may not meet your stakeholder’s standards for data integrity.


The Experience API (a.k.a. Tin Can, xAPI) has the advantage of sending data to a database when the learner takes an action rather than forcing the learner to launch the content from the LMS like SCORM does. This would simplify the process but you would have to build a process to insert xAPI calls into your content and figure out how to get the data back into the LMS.

Track the Assessment

Load only the final assessment for a group of microlearnings into the LMS. In this way you are only tracking the successful completion of the quiz as evidence of the learning achieved through the microlearnings. The microlearnings themselves then become supporting material that the learner can launch at will. This is probably the ideal solution but I do have one more trick up my sleeve.


I bet you didn’t see that one coming. Think about a video game with rooms and levels. If you run though the rooms as fast as you can, you won’t beat the level. You need to take something from each room, a key of sorts into the last room to win. How can we apply this to microlearning? Imagine that at the end of each microlearning you are given a key, a badge, a code, that you enter in the right place in the last module. Collecting all the keys gives you a passing score and that is sent back to the LMS. This brings us closer to the idea of experiential learning.

What are your plans for MicroLearning?

Check out my friend Tom Spiglanin’s post on this topic.


#LSCon Recap: Learn Together, Struggle Alone

It’s true. We learn better together. Most of the information I got at Learning Solutions 2013 in Orlando could have been gleaned from reading countless articles, however, there is something about being face to face with your Personal Learning Network (PLN), that activates learning on another level.

I’ve been interacting with the people at this conference for several years but I never met any of them in person. Once I introduced myself everyone was so welcoming. People like Lisa Goldstein and Jane Bozarth brought me into the ever growing circle. In this way I experienced the conference as part of a larger ongoing conversation. That heightened the value of everything I took in.

Another multiplier effect was the LSCon App. Not only was it practical for organizing your schedule but it connected the sessions you were taking to the stream of conversations from the rest of the participants. The Twitter stream was also very active. In this way the conversation expanded beyond the conference. Tom Spiglanin, one of the speakers, created a flash chat on Twitter using a hash tag from the session number (#LS706). Instead of asking questions from blank faces, he got a stream of answers from people who may not always participate and even from beyond Orlando. Then after the conference, the backchannel curated by David Kelly allowed participants to review and share the material.

I’m not known as a great multitasker and yet I was engrossed in the sessions, taking notes in Evernote and commenting on the LSCon app and on Twitter. Far from being distracted, I was totally engaged and processing the ideas in a way that went beyond simply absorbing information.

This was an eLearning conference but we were in live sessions. One of the key themes was “learning at the point of need” and yet we were learning for future application. Another theme was “performance support” and yet what we were learning was about the conceptual framework of performance not performance itself.

Learning together meant being open to new ideas and new combinations of thinking.

10 Things to Take Out of Elearning

“In the practice of the Tao, every day something is dropped”  –  Lao-Tsu – The Tao Te Ching

Designers of eLearning are creative people who want everyone to love what they do. They want to put in all the newest and best ideas into their work. Unfortunately learners don’t always want or need what is produced. I may be called a heretic by my more traditionalist friends but I propose to do away with some elements of typical eLearning that have been thought to be sacred cows. Continue reading

Discussion: When do you really need audio voice overs?

I’ve been following a discussion on The eLearning Guild group on Linkedin called “Anyone had any experience of adding voiceovers to e-learning courses? As we have over 100 courses, we can’t possibly record the voiceovers ourselves. Are there good digital products out there?” It has been a very active discussion despite the fact that the original post was 8 months ago. Most of the comments are from people trying to promote their audio services, but a lot of people are going back and forth on the technology: human voice vs. text-to-speech, professional studio vs. personal computer, $50 microphone vs. $150 microphone. What struck me is that everyone is assuming that there has to be audio. Here are my two-cents that I threw into the discussion:
Continue reading