5 Rules for Successful Microlearning

Natürlich kann man unseren acht-wöchigen CL2025 MOOCathon auch mit der Microlearning-Brille betrachten. Bildeten nicht tägliche, kurze Fragen und Aufgaben das Herzstück dieses Lernprozesses? Aber es kam noch etwas dazu: Die täglichen Fragen und Aufgaben sollten keine Themen und Inhalte vermitteln, und sie richteten sich gleichzeitig an über 1.000 Lernende. Diskussion und Erfahrungsaustausch inbegriffen. Spätestens an diesem Punkt zeigt sich, warum Microlearning zwar die kontinuierliche Auseinandersetzung mit einem Thema unterstützen und, im günstigen Fall, neue Lernroutinen verankern kann. Gleichzeitig fußt Microlearning noch auf den traditionellen Vorstellungen vom Lehren und Lernen, von Rollen und Verantwortlichkeiten.

Auch die fünf Regeln, die Alex Khurgin präsentiert, weisen in die richtige Richtung und geben wichtige Hinweise zum richtigen Design von Microlearning, ohne jedoch das Potenzial des kollaborativen Lernens anzutasten:

„#1. Align Microlearning Around Moments of Need …
#2. Design for Micro-Behaviors …
#3. Start Microlearning Experiences With an Emotional Hook …
#4. End Microlearning Experiences With a Call-to-Action …
#5. Surround Live Events With Microlearning …“
Alex Khurgin, ATD/ Learning Technologies Blog, 13. September 2017

Why Adopt Microlearning – 15 Questions Answered

Why Adopt Microlearning? What Is The Relevance Of Microlearning Today And Why Is It The Flavor Of The Season?

We live in a world full of distractions and dwindling attention spans. Both these raise questions on how your learning strategy should be updated to offset these challenges. Let’s take a look at this and some of the related facets more closely to determine what approach would offset these.

Challenge 1: Limited Attention Spans

The proponents of the 90/20/8 rule have made interesting observations about human attention spans. According to them:

  • People are completely alert and attentive in the first 8 minutes.
  • Once 20 minutes go by, the attention level starts showing a dip.
  • Once they hit the 60-120 minute range, the alertness level completely drops.

Challenge 2: Dwindling Attention Spans

If the findings of a study by Microsoft are to be believed, the human attention span (8 seconds) is lesser than that of a goldfish (9 seconds).

Challenge 3: The Forgetting Curve

Then there’s the “Forgetting curve” too that postulates that we forget nearly 80% of what we learn in 30 days if there is no reinforcement.

These three challenges are very real and need to be addressed for learning to be sticky, easy to apply on the job, and show a demonstrable gain that businesses want to see.

Let us see how microlearning can come to your rescue:

  • To begin with, you can use microlearning to supplement your formal trainings. This way, you can ensure that the reinforcement provided in the form of Microlearning helps learners retain the learning you offered them through the formal training.
  • A key feature of Microlearning is that it is short and learners would usually finish going through a Microlearning nugget within a 3 to 5 minute window. This way, it helps you negate the impact of the “Forgetting Curve” and offset the attention span challenge.
  • Short trainings then translate into faster completions, thereby fetching you better completion rates. There’s plenty more to Microlearning and the series of questions and answers that follows will help unravel each of these aspects one after the other.

In this article, through a series of questions and answers, I show how microlearning can come to your rescue. The 15 questions are logically grouped as:

  1. Microlearning basics. 
  2. Microlearning benefits. 
  3. Application of microlearning.
  4. Design and deployment of microlearning.
  5. Impact of microlearning. 

Part 1: Microlearning Basics

Q1. What is microlearning?

As the name suggests, microlearning is learning in micro bites. It is a short learning nugget that a learner would usually complete between 2 to 5 minutes to achieve a specific learning objective.

While microlearning nuggets can be used for both formal and informal learning, they are used more often for just-in-time learning purposes (as Performance Support Tools).

They offer multi-device compatibility and appeal to learners because of the rich media format usage.

Q2. What is not microlearning?

Microlearning is not just breaking down a 10-hour training into small pieces.

It’s an action-oriented approach of offering bite-sized learning that gets learners to learn, act, and practice.

The ideal way to go about creating microlearning nuggets is to identify the larger learning objective and then drill down at micro levels.

Q3. Microlearning sounds a lot like Just-In-Time learning of the past. What are the differences?

Just-In-Time learning is normally associated with the concept of Performance Support rendered through Performance Support Tools or PSTs.

  • They are typically designed to address a definite learner need or a specific problem.
  • They are normally not tracked by Learning Management Systems and are designed to support the formal training (tracked by LMSs).
  • They are almost always embedded in the learner’s work-flow. In other words, they are used for informal training. PSTs use microlearning-based formats.

Microlearning nuggets on the other hand are short training nuggets that address a specific learning outcome. They can be used to provide both formal training as well as Performance Support or informal training. They can also be used to support ILT/VILT sessions.

Q4. How micro can you go with microlearning?

The idea behind creating effective microlearning nuggets is to keep them as crisp as possible

while ensuring that they are long enough to adequately cover a learning objective.

While there’s no perfect length as such for microlearning, ideally they should be:

  1. Easy to internalize.
    They should be short enough for learners to consume them easily in one go.
  2. Available to learners precisely at the time of their need.
    The microlearning experience should be such that it helps learners on the job at the moment of their need.
  3. Designed to enable learners to act and practice.
    The microlearning experience should be action-oriented and help learners practice what they’re learning.

Part 2: Microlearning Benefits

Q5. How does microlearning empower learners?

With microlearning, learners get a chance to apply their learning as they are doing their work. The transfer of information happens at a desired level and at the learners’ own pace. Besides, microlearning empowers learners in the following ways:

  • It provides them with the flexibility to learn on any device, whenever they want to.
  • It avoids them the hassles of logging in to a Learning Management System and then going about their learning.
  • It provides them access to the learning material within their workflow.

Q6. What are the benefits to the learners?

The key benefits of microlearning from the learners’ perspective are:

  • Learner-centric.
    Microlearning nuggets can be embedded in a learning path in a flexible way, letting learners choose what they want to learn and when on the device of their choice. They also help address the different learning styles and preferences that learners have and bring in an element of personalization in the learning.
  • Just-in-time.
    Microlearning nuggets make great Performance Support Tools (PSTs) to help learners apply the learning precisely at the moment of their need.
  • Accessible.
    With every passing day, learners are getting more access to mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Microlearning nuggets can be easily made available to learners on the device of their choice.
  • Rich media.
    Learners today are used to viewing pieces of information in various rich media formats. The flexibility microlearning offers in this regard helps meet learners’ expectations to have an engaging experience.
  • Less time consuming.
    Microlearning nuggets can be completed quickly. The learning as a result is more effective and beneficial for learners.

Q7. What are the benefits for business?

The key benefits of microlearning for the business are:

  • Affordable and agile.
    Organizations need not spend a bomb on microlearning nuggets. Studies reveal that organizations end up bringing down the development cost by 50% with microlearning at a development speed of +300%.
  • Shorter development cycle.
    As microlearning nuggets are short, it doesn’t take long to build them. This short development cycle results in lesser expenditure and a quicker turnaround time for organizations.
  • Easy to update.
    The short turnaround time factor comes into play in case of updates to be made to the nuggets as well. As they are short, it doesn’t take long to fix/update them, thereby providing organizations with an obvious advantage.
  • Wider application.
    You can use microlearning for both formal and informal training needs. They offer you the flexibility to use them as Performance Support Tools (PSTs), as standalone learning nuggets or as part of a series of courses. You can also offer them through an LMS or integrate them in the learning path of a learning portal.
  • High impact.
    As microlearning nuggets help achieve a specific learning objective, they help create a high impact as learners get to learn exactly what they needed.

Q8. Why is microlearning gaining momentum?

Some of the reasons why microlearning-based training is gaining momentum are:

  • Increased usage of mobile learning or mLearning.
  • You can develop and update microlearning nuggets quickly.
  • The flexibility to use them for both formal and informal training needs.
  • It results in higher completion rates and higher impact.
  • It is perfect for learners with low attention spans.
  • It finds takers in the millennial generation and other learner profiles.

Part 3: Application Of Microlearning

Q9. Is microlearning relevant only for the millennial workforce?

Microlearning nuggets are designed in a way that appeal to Millennials. However, their appeal extends beyond the millennial generation and they find takers in all learner profiles as they:

  • Save learners’ time and offer them the advantage of completing the learning quickly.
  • Offset the challenge of dwindling attention spans.
  • Can be taken on the device of learners’ choice.
  • Need not be taken through a Learning  Management System.
  • Can be made available within the learners’ workflow.

Q10. How can you use microlearning in corporate training?

You can use microlearning for varied corporate training needs, including:

  1. Formal training.
  2. As a supplement to formal training.
  3. To supplement/reinforce online and ILT trainings (pre and post).
  4. As just-in-time learning aids.

Q11. When should you not use microlearning?

Microlearning may not work in a few situations where the training program at hand is too complex and where it makes more sense to present the training as a single larger learning unit.

Otherwise, microlearning can be applied to almost all training programs in the form of standalone nuggets or as a series of nuggets threaded in a learning path.

Their widest adoption continues to be as Performance Support Tools or PSTs (just-in-time leaning aids).

Part 4: Design And Deployment Of Microlearning

Q12. How should the microlearning be designed?

You can go about designing an effective microlearning experience by following the given steps:

  1. Step 1: Create the “Master Learning Blueprint” for your course and define the learning goals.
  2. Step 2: Craft the “learning path”. You need to then convert your master learning goal into a series of nuggets. As and when your learners complete each nugget, they would get one step closer to achieving the larger learning goals.
  3. Step 3: Scheduling the learning path/learning journey. Get your learners to complete these milestones everyday or based on their convenient time. This way, you can help learners reinforce the learning and practice what they have learned along the way.

Q13. What are the formats in which microlearning can be deployed?

Today, you can take a pick from several engaging and innovative formats. All of these are multi-device formats (supported on desktops/laptops as well as Ttblets and Ssmartphones). You can pick a particular format based on the nature of content and how it should be applied.

At EI Design, we use most of the popular formats shown here to create engaging microlearning nuggets for formal learning, Performance Support as well as to supplement ILT sessions.

  • Interactive parallax based scrolling.
  • Mobile apps.
  • Short videos.
  • Interactive videos.
  • Whiteboard animations.
  • Kinetic text based animations.
  • Complex branching scenario based simulations.
  • Infographics.
  • eBooks and flipbooks.
  • iPDFs (interactive PDFs).

Part 5: Impact And What More Is Possible

Q14. Can microlearning impact the ROI?

Any learning strategy that can impact Recall, Retention, and Application will be able to demonstrate a positive impact on the ROI. As we have seen so far, microlearning approaches appeal to the learners, lead to high completion rates, and package information that can be applied precisely at the time of need. Designed to meet the mandates of knowledge acquisition, application, and behavioral change, microlearning-based training will establish a clear value for the business and ROI.

Let’s take a look at the impact on ROI that microlearning creates in the light of Kirkpatrick’s model of evaluation.

 

Kirkpatrick’s model of evaluationMicrolearning impacts Levels 1 and 2 directly. As a derived gain, it would impact Levels 3 and 4, thereby resulting in a positive ROI on training.

Q15. What more is possible?

As I have shown earlier, you can opt for a variety of interesting formats (mapping to your content).

Additionally, you can enrich the microlearning experience by using it in conjunction with other approaches such as:

  1. Gamification.
  2. Social Learning.
  3. Personalization.

 

I hope this article answers your questions on microlearning and why it makes sense to adopt microlearning based training in your learning strategy. If you have any queries, do contact me at apandey@eidesign.net.

Source: https://www.eidesign.net/adopt-microlearning-15-questions-answered/

How To Create Engaging Compliance Courses Using Gamification And Microlearning

compliance courseWhen you think of compliance courses, possibly the first word that comes to mind is boring. Well, they tend to be boring but can be uplifted to offer better learner engagement. In this article, you will see how you can create engaging corporate compliance courses using gamification and microlearning approaches.

Using Gamification And Microlearning To Create Engaging Corporate Compliance Courses

Background: At EI Design, our corporate compliance practice is 14 years old. One in six courses that we build is on compliance. Over the years, we have used several innovative instructional strategies to create immersive and engaging compliance Training. Our mandate is “Corporate Compliance Simplified” and usage of these strategies has helped our customers see the required behavioral change that they sought.

What Innovative Instructional Strategies Can Be Used To Create Engaging Compliance Courses?

The choices when trying to create interactive compliance courses are limited only by your imagination. Some of the approaches we have used include:

    1. Gamification.
    2. Scenario-based.
    3. Story-based.
    4. Guided exploration.
    5. Microlearning.

Can Gamification And Microlearning Be Used To Uplift boring Content Associated With Compliance Courses?

Absolutely. Who doesn’t like having fun? Ask your learners to choose between a standard compliance course and one with an element of gamification with it, nine out of ten times they’ll go with the latter.

Microlearning, with its innate nature of brevity and flexibility to drive home a specific message effectively, can also be a great option to enliven your corporate compliance learning subjects.

In this article, I will share 3 of the approaches (featuring gamification strategies and microlearning solutions) with examples that will illustrate how you can enhance your strategy to create more effective and interactive compliance training. The 3 approaches featured here are:

    1. Gamification.
    2. Partial Gamification.
    3. Microlearning.

Here are the 3 examples that showcase how we integrated gamification and microlearning elements in compliance courses. These examples will help you determine how you can use them to make your compliance training interesting:

Example 1 Featuring Gamification: Used In A Course On Risk Management

Background: When dealing with corporate compliance subjects, it’s important not to get carried away with the gamification approach and overdo stuff. With this in mind, we devised our approach. Additionally, we decided that the gamification strategy:

    1. Needed to have elements of both challenge and reward.
    2. Must be such that the game scenario/story maps to the context of the course content.
    3. Needed to provide learners with a feeling of resonance – situations that are similar to what they do in their everyday job.
    4. Needed to increase the learners’ knowledge as they cleared one stage after the other.

Highlights of the concept: We came up with a gamification of learning approach that was task oriented and simulation based.

    1. In line with the contextual requirement, we mapped the game scenario with the risk management theme. We posed challenges to learners at every stage of the game. As they cleared each of these challenges, they experienced incremental learning after every stage.
    2. We provided the learners with a work setting (visual) that resembled their day to day environment.
    3. The challenges were presented in the form of bonuses and bombs and the rewards came in the form of caps and badges.
    4. That apart, we enhanced their learning experience with activities that evoked feelings of surprise and delight.
    5. We provided the option of seeking help to the learners as they went about their tasks. This resonated well with the learners as they would do the same in real life in times of need. Gamification of learning helped achieve better application of knowledge and enhanced performance.

 

compliance-gamification-examples

Example 2 Featuring Partial Gamification: Used In A Course On Risk Management

Background: Here, the focus was on gamifying only portions of the course and not the complete course. We decided to gamify the inline checks and the assessment section. While the rest of the course followed a more traditional approach, we used the Partial Gamification approach at points where the learners needed to answer questions to proceed to the next topic.

Our concept: Like in the previous example, we based our gamification approach on the risk management theme and asked the learners to obtain an “access key” to be able to advance from one topic to another. The learners had to answer the questions correctly at the end of every topic to obtain the access key.

The theme also reflected in the overall visual appeal of the course.

Compliance course Access key

Example 3 Featuring Microlearning: Used To Reinforce Message On Conflict Management

Background: To make the compliance subject on conflicts of interest interesting, we created a microlearning nugget using the whiteboard animation technique. We used this nugget as a Performance Support Tool/Learning Aid and made it available to learners on tablets/smartphones/desktops/laptops. This made it easy for them to refer to the nugget at the time of their need on mobile devices.

Focus of the microlearning nugget: The microlearning nugget was built to complement a compliance course on conflict management. We kept the message and animations/illustrations simple providing the learners with a great mix of action on the screen and time to comprehend the message. To reinforce the message, we backed the visuals with audio.

The nugget conveyed in simple terms that conflicts do exist, how one can recognize them, and how they can be resolved.

Microlearning Compliance course EI Design

You can also view these examples in detail in the video below.

 

By Using Strategies Like Gamification And Microlearning, What Tangible Gains Will You See?

While the compliance mandate does come with a few strings attached, there is no denying that you need to have elements of engagement that can create sticky learning experiences so that this learning gets translated into application on the job.

By using innovative learning strategies like gamification and microlearning for creating engaging compliance courses, you will see clear gains for both learners and business. Specifically:

Gains From Learner Perspective:

    1. High learner engagement.
    2. Immersive experience: The courses are taken with genuine interest (no bitter pill but learners will enjoy the experience).

Gains From Business Perspective:

    1. Instils the spirit of “why comply”.
    2. Leads to the required behavioral change.

I hope this article showcases the gains of using innovative learning strategies like gamification and microlearning to create engaging compliance courses. If you have any questions, do contact me.

Source: How To Create Engaging Compliance Courses Using Gamification And Microlearning

Simple Screencast Production Tips for Better E-Learning

screencast tips

Screencast tutorials are some of the most common forms of online training. This makes sense since a large part of e-learning is predicated on learning new software. One challenge is creating effective and engaging screencasts. So today, we’ll look at a few simple production tips to help you get started.

Screencast Tip: Establish Context Quickly

It helps to know what you’re learning and why. At the beginning of the screencast, introduce what you’re going to teach and why (or what the outcome should be). Many screencasts aren’t clear about what the value of the screencast is. They either jump into instruction with no context, or they spend too much time on non-essential content.

 

Screencast Tip: Get to the Point Quickly

The other day I was reviewing a product video for some new gadget. The video was about seven minutes long. I wanted to know how the gadget worked and what features it had but the guy in the video spent the first three minutes talking about a bunch of nonsense that had nothing to do with the video topic.

As Archie Bunker used to say, “Get to the point, Edith.”

Screencast Tip: Don’t Focus on Features

Many of the screencasts I view go through a feature list. They spend way too much time on the user interface and the features buried within it. You don’t need to explain everything in the software or everything you can do with it. And not all features are created equal. Some are used all the time and some rarely.

Skip the feature-by-feature dissertation. Focus on the key features and the ones most critical to the user’s objectives.

Screencast Tip: Focus on Action

What are people supposed to do with the software? Make a list of required actions or responsibilities. Then build your screencasts around actionable objectives and how to meet them. Give them real-life challenges and how the software meets them.

For example, if I were teaching someone how to use a spreadsheet, instead of showing them how to to use specific features, I’d start with a real-world challenge: “You need to create a report using this data.” And then from there, I’d go through the process of instruction and focus on the features relevant to the objective.

Screencast Tip: Don’t Stop at One

People need multiple opportunities to practice. Many screencasts and the associated activities are built on a single action. This is fine. However, use the activities to reinforce a previous lesson as you introduce new skills. Give them opportunities to review and repeat the previous process.

The more practice, the more fluent they’ll be. This is really key with software training where you build on skills from previous training videos.

Screencast Tip: Keep it Short

Shorter videos are better. Stay focused and get to the point, as I noted above. It’s better to have a series of shorter videos than to have a single long one that forces the user to scrub through looking for relevant info. Try to stay focused on a single objective.

Screencast Tip: Provide Post-Screencast Resources

Because the screencast videos will be shorter and tied to specific actions there may be some learning gaps or other things the person wants to know. It’s always a good idea to curate a list of additional resources for the viewer to access after they’ve completed the screencast video.

Screencast Tip: Don’t Make a Screencast

Screencasts take time and some require multiple edits. And if the content changes (like a new interface or features) then they need to be redone. Often it’s easier to show a static screen and use labels to highlight specific areas. These are also easier to update when the subject matter is still in flux. And it helps you avoid long videos when they just need simple information.

I like this interactive screenshot prototype that David built a while ago. It looks good and it’s easy to build. It’s also available as a free download.

Here are some additional resources for those who want to create screencasts:

What tips do you have to share?


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

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Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Articulate Roadshows. Join us for one or two days of e-learning goodness. Day 1 focuses on more general e-learning topics and Day 2 is centered on learning to build some nice, reusable interactions. They're great activities to help you learn more about the tools. Sign up using the links below. Seats are limited for the events. If you're interested in presenting at one of the roadshows, let me know.
  • Austin: September 12 & 13. Early bird rate expires August 28. Register here.
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  • London: November 13 & 14. Details coming soon.
  • Manchester: November 16 & 17. Seats will be limited. Details coming soon.

 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

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Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

Three Good E-Learning Books to Finish Off the Summer

e-learning books summer reading fun

The end of summer usually serves as the beginning of the school year. In a sense, it also kind of serves as the beginning of the work year. It’s always good to come into a new year with a fresh perspective. Reading is one way to do that.

I’m always asked about good e-learning books from those just getting started who want to learn more.  Here are some new books I haven’t referenced in the past. I think they’re worth considering for your e-learning library.

Microlearning Guide to Microlearning

Microlearning is all the rage. Although I think short courses have always existed, it’s just today they have a trendy name. I like to call them coursels (as in course morsels). But that hasn’t taken off despite my efforts over the past twenty years. I guess my legacy will rest on something else.

coursels microlearning

If you want to learn about microlearning then check out Carla Torgerson’s Microlearning Guide to Microlearning.

microlearning book

Here are a few things that stand out:

  • The book presents each point as distinct micro ideas. There are 141 in the book. It may seem a bit gimmicky and some of the ideas are obvious, but for the most, part it works and the points are really good. Besides, the essence of microlearning is to distill ideas into smaller, single topic points. There’s nothing earth-shattering in the book, but it’s a fast read and has most of the core points you’d find in other books and articles on microlearning. Having them in a single resource is nice.
  • I still like to read paper books and end up having to write a lot of notes and my thoughts on the back cover because there’s no room in the margins. Because she presents single micro ideas in the book, there’s lots of room to reflect and take notes.
  • She offers the MILE model as a means to help guide the content development. Here’s the essence of the model: objectives, structure, resources, promote, and evaluate. There’s a lot more to it, but it’s a good model.

Overall, a good book and easy to get through.

Write and Organize for Deeper Learning

Many of you are probably familiar with Patti Shank. She’s a frequent speaker at industry conferences and has written a number of good books. And now she has a new one, Write and Organize for Deeper Learning. This is book one of the “Make It Learnable” series.

patti shank write and organize for deeper learning

Here are a few key highlights:

  • The book focuses on four key strategies built around the audience’s needs and ability to learn based on how the content is structured and presented.
  • She offers lots of ideas and tactics to help make the book’s content learnable and something you can apply.
  • I’m a simple person. I have plenty of big, thick books on instructional design and learning, but I like to fall back on thin, easy-to-digest books. This is a good one for beginners who are dipping their toes in the water and not sure where to start. It covers a lot of foundational content. And for those of us who are a bit more tenured it’s a fast read with lots of reminders.

Like Julie Dirksen’s Design for How People Learn, this is one of those books I’d recommend to someone just getting started.

Map It: The Hands-On Guide to Strategic Training Design

Okay, this book isn’t out yet, but it’s one I’m looking forward to it. Cathy Moore’s done a great job taking course design concepts and making them easy-to-understand, especially for those just getting started. I always recommend her action mapping ideas to subject matter experts at the workshops and conferences I attend.

cathy moore action mapping Map It: The Hands-On Guide to Strategic Training Design

I’m sure her book will be out soon. Hopefully, this will spur her to get it out the door. 			</div><!-- .entry-content -->
	    
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Why Adopt Microlearning – 15 Questions Answered

Eine nützliche Übersicht über das Konzept „Microlearning“. Aus meiner Sicht wird dem Stichwort schon fast etwas zuviel zugemutet, aber dafür werden alle denkbaren Perspektiven aufgenommen und beleuchtet: Was Microlearning ist („an action-oriented approach of offering bite-sized learning that gets learners to learn, act, and practice“), die Vorteile von Microlearning, die verschiedenen Einsatzfelder und Designs und sogar einige Anmerkungen zum ROI. Als Auszug anbei die im Artikel aufgeführten Formate:

„Interactive parallax based scrolling, mobile apps, short videos, interactive videos, whiteboard animations, kinetic text based animations, complex branching scenario based simulations, infographics, eBooks and flipbooks, iPDFs (interactive PDFs)“

Asha Pandey, EI Design, 10. August 2017

Microlearning for Retail Industry

Change is the only constant and that certainly holds true for the retail industry that continues to evolve rapidly, resulting in the need for employees to constantly learn, adapt and evolve. Employees have to keep up with the current trend to deliver in their roles. The modern retail workspace is characterised by relatively young employees […]

Ten Tips You Need to Know for your Next Performance Support Video

Performance support videos are everywhere. From YouTube to the workplace, you can learn pretty much anything by watching a step-by-step video one step at a time, and then doing it yourself. Some of these videos are good; others not so much. So how can you be sure that the video you are producing for your client or organization is high quality – and effective?

toolsIn June, I gave a session at the Focus On Learning conference in which I shared ten tips and tricks for producing a video which will have impact. These tips will help you through various stages of the development process, including pre-production, production, and post-production. Some of the tips discussed include tools, working with SMEs, equipment, output delivery, accessibility, and maintenance. I also managed to throw in a few bonus tips. This post won’t show you how to make your video. Instead, it will help you make your video better!

Question 1: There are so many tools out there. It’s overwhelming. How do I know which one to use?

Determine which tool you will use to create your video. Are you training on soft skills? Are you showing how to use software? Very different purposes which may require different tools. Are you showing an actual software process which requires learners to see the mouse movements, etc., or can you get away with static screenshots?

TIP: Determine which tools you will use.

Question 2: Sometimes the person reading the script does not seem to know what they are talking about.  Can you help?

Review the script with your SME. If you are recording audio, record the script with your SME so you know where to place emphasis when recording the narration.

TIP: Review the script with your SME. Practice!

Woman acknowledging idea.

Know in advance how the final output will be delivered.  Are you embedding your tool into a web page? Is it part of a course that you are creating in Captivate or some other tool?

TIP: Know in advance how the final output will be delivered.

Question 4: These types of videos are great! But I watched one recently about how to install drywall. The first five minutes talked about the history of drywall. That was ridiculous!

Throw out the nice to know.  Focus on the need to know. Give learners the very basic information they need, and then stop! Again, they will likely have the program open and then model what they are seeing, especially if it is to help them use a piece of software.

TIP: Throw out the nice to know. Focus on the need to know.

Question 5: My co-worker is visually impaired. Our training staff rolled out a video program like this last year but she couldn’t use it. Can you make it accessible for her?

Be sure to provide a video description page and link to it from the page that plays the video so that users who cannot watch the video can still get the information. My organization found that learners without disabilities are actually printing these description pages and using them as job aids after watching the videos.

TIP: Remember accessibility. Include a transcript or video description page.

Question 6: I would love to create those kinds of videos, but I don’t have the money for all that equipment. So what am I supposed to do?

Don’t bother with expensive cameras.  Use your phone’s on-board camera – it is capable of producing perfectly acceptable video. Or use screen recording software such as Captivate, Camtasia, or some of the others that are available.

TIP: Don’t bother with expensive cameras. Use your phone’s on-board camera.

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Question 7: So where are you going to put these videos? How can I find them?

Place the video as close as you can to the moment of need. If it is for software skills, can you embed the videos into the program? Can you create a help button in the program where the learners can go to access the videos? Can you create a desktop icon to the videos that is near the icon for the software program?

TIP: Place the video as close as you can to the moment of need.

Question 8: I’d love to watch a video to help me, but it’s a hassle logging in to the LMS just to find what I need. By the time I’ve done all that, I could just try and figure it out on my own.

Don’t mess with an LMS.  These videos are not training courses. They are performance support videos. They are designed to be used at the moment of need – when someone wants to access them right away to quickly get an answer. Do not make them log into an LMS to find the answer they want.

TIP: Don’t mess with an LMS.

Follow-up to Question 8: Yes, but management needs numbers on usage. I have to give them something and the only way to do it is from the LMS.

Answer:  One word – WebTrends. Or is that two words? The LMS will track completion data. But what if you want to see how may people watched at least part of your video? It is likely your user did not view the entire video, but rather just the portion they needed. That might be a more realistic way to track usage than the LMS, especially since you might be selling yourself short if you rely on those figures. WebTrends trackers how many people viewed it – and a whole lot more!

Question 9: We got a new software program at work. They created a training video on it. I watch part of the video, then perform a task in the program. Then I watch some more and move on to the next step. It’s awesome!

Conduct focus groups to find out how learners are using these videos. Are they watching it from beginning to end like a YouTube video? Or are they watching a brief segment and then pausing it to go to a software program to do what they just saw, and then coming back and watching the next brief segment?

TIP: Obtain user feedback.

Decorative onlyQuestion 10: I used those videos a few years ago to learn our new HR system. But then the system changed, but nobody updated the videos, and people stopped watching them. It’s kind of sad when you think about it.

The beauty of this type of system is that your videos are very short. If a particular step changes in a process, it should be fairly easy and quick to update a video or create a new one from scratch. The system may be well-received initially, but if it is not maintained, it (and you) will lose some credibility. When you are developing this type of system, be sure to include a plan for how you will maintain the content after it changes.

TIP: Maintain your video content.

BONUS Question 1: I was trying to learn a step with our new accounting software. The video was terrible. The person teaching it kept moving his mouse all over the screen and could not finish a sentence. It’s like he was making it up as he went along.

Bonus TIP 1: Rehearse your on-screen movements. Record audio separately.

BONUS Question 2: I had to watch this video that was ridiculously long. I had to sit through an interminable amount of content that I already knew, just to get to the stuff I didn’t know. I got frustrated and just gave up.

Bonus TIP 2: Meet your learners where they are. Break content into discrete steps.

I hope you are able to use at least one of these tips and that they enable you to produce a better-quality video.

Cheers,

CHUCK

Flipping Training on its Head: Getting Started with a Performance Support Video Solution (Part 3)

Over the past 2 weeks or so, I’ve posted two blog articles in which I discussed how performance support video solutions are flipping training on its head. In the first post, I talked about how traditional training stresses participants learning something at a defined time – and then going into the work area and doing what it is they learned.  I then shared how in my own experience of developing performance support tools. If you have not read that article and you are interested, here you go: https://elearning.adobe.com/2017/07/flipping-training-on-its-head-getting-started-with-a-performance-support-video-solution/

Last week, I talked about the steps required to begin developing such a solution. We looked at taking a process and breaking it down into its unique and discrete steps, so that it can be demonstrated in manageable chunks. We looked at determining the total number of steps required, how to create an index page to each video and the importance of including the length of time it takes your user to view each video. We also considered who you will need on your team and the importance of separating the need to know from the nice to know. Finally, I challenged each of you to engage in the overall process of building a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If you missed part 2, here is the link: https://elearning.adobe.com/2017/07/flipping-training-on-its-head-getting-started-with-a-performance-support-video-solution-part-2/

Part 3

So how did it go? How many steps did you determine it takes to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? What are they? Take a look at the “school” solution. This is what I came up with. It does not mean it is the absolute only way to do it. It’s just my approach to this project.
School Solution for Peanut Butter and Jelly
Notice that each step that I listed is separate and distinct from each other. That’s why you don’t see a step that reads “Open the peanut butter jar and spread some on the bread.” That is two separate steps.  Users may not remember how to open the jar in this case, but they’ve shown they can remove a spoon of peanut butter from the jar and spread it on the bread. Sure this is a simplistic example, so consider this more realistic situation. “Log onto your computer, then launch Adobe Captivate.” Your learner may remember how to log on, but if it is their first time using Captivate, they may not know what the desktop icon looks like or how to access the program. If you are going to give them just what they need at the moment they need it, then the performance support tool should reflect that. Having one item for “log onto your computer” and a separate item for “launch Captivate” gives users a choice and enables them to get just what they need – and no more.

perfSupport_shotListSo you know the number of steps and what they are, what next? It’s time to develop your shot list. I like to keep mine simple. I number each shot to make it easy to refer to, and then I have two columns: What Learners See, and What Learners Hear.  The “What Learners Hear” column will become the script which I will send to my voice over artist (or if you are like most developers who has to do their own voice over, you now have the script.)

Here is an example shot list for the “Gather Your Materials” step.
Completed Storyboard for one step

Now it is a matter of producing each video, then uploading it to the index page for users to access it.

I am including the complete shot list below.  I hope that this series of blog posts has been helpful as you think about creating your own performance support video solution. This is the method I’ve developed that works for me. If you’ve had success with this approach, please share it in the comments below.  If you’ve got an approach that differs from this but which works for you, please share that too. This way, our colleagues in the community can take something from each and develop a process which works for them.

Best,

CHUCK

Here is the complete shot list.

Shot Number What Learners See What Learners Hear
1 Items lined up on preparation surface. Hand points to each as it is mentioned.

To make the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you will need:

·         A clean, flat food production surface.

·         Peanut butter of your choice.

·         Jelly, jam, or preserves of your choice.

·         2 slices of sandwich bread.

·         A clean butter knife.

·         You may also want a spoon for the jelly.

2

Placing the bread slices on the surface side by side.

 

Cut to flipping the bread slices together as though the sandwich were already made.

Position the bread slices on the clean surface, side-by-side, with one slice face up and the other slice face down.

 

This step is vital because it will allow the slices of bread to evenly match together when you combine them later.

3 Unscrew the lid of the peanut butter jar. Remove the liner. Cut to shot of the liner being placed in the trash. Open the peanut butter jar by unscrewing the lid. If the jar of peanut butter is new, remove and discard the paper liner attached to the top of the jar.
4

Scoop out a dollop of peanut butter with the knife. Spread the peanut butter across one slide of the bread.

 

Scoop out another dollop of peanut butter with the knife and spread it across the other slide of bread.

Using the knife, scoop a large dollop of peanut butter and spread it onto the top of each slice of bread. Use as much peanut butter as desired.

 

Putting peanut butter on each side will prevent the bread from getting soggy from the jelly. This is especially important if preparing the sandwich ahead of time.

5 Open the jar of jelly. Open the jar of jelly using the same method you used to open the peanut butter.
6a Wiping the knife with a paper towel. Wipe the knife. This is a small but essential step because it keeps from contaminating the contents of the jelly jar with the peanut butter.
6b The subject licking the knife with his tongue – and put the universal “NO” sign on top. Be sure to use a paper towel – and not your tongue for this step.
6c Remove a spoonful of jelly from the jar.

As an alternative, you may use a clean spoon to remove the jelly from the jar.

 

 

Shot Number What Learners See What Learners Hear
7a Placing the spoon of jelly onto the bread. Then picking up the knife and evenly distributing the jelly across the surface of the peanut butter. Apply the jelly. Spread it on top of the peanut butter on one slice of the bread.
7b Show jelly oozing out of sandwich – and put the universal “NO” sign on top. Putting jelly on both sides will only lead to a mess with jelly spewing out the sides of the sandwich.
8a Flipping peanut butter only side of bread over onto the side with the jelly. Combine both slices of bread by taking the slice of bread without jelly on it and flipping it on top of the jelly of the other slide.
8b Close-up of completed sandwich. You should now have a layered PB&J sandwich with peanut butter on the top and bottom and jelly in the center.
9 Close up of shoulders/head as the subject eats and enjoys his sandwich, appearing to savor each bite. Eat and Repeat. You can now satisfy your hunger with a delicious, non-soggy peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Repeat as necessary until you are full.
10a Hand placing the peanut butter jar in the pantry. Don’t forget to clean up. Return the peanut butter jar to its location.
10b Hand placing the jelly jar inside the refrigerator door. Place the jar of jelly in the refrigerator.
10c Washing/rinsing of knife and cutting board. Wash your utensils and dishes.
10d Wiping down the countertop with a towel. Wipe the surface where you prepared your sandwich to ensure no bread crumbs or sticky residue is left behind.

 

Flipping Training on its Head: Getting Started with a Performance Support Video Solution (Part 2)

Last week, I posted a blog article in which I discussed how performance support video solutions are flipping training on its head. In that article, I talked about how traditional training stresses participants learning something at a defined time – and then going into the work area and doing what it is they learned.  I then shared how in my own experience of developing performance support tools, I realized that the DO occurs first and is followed by LEARN.  After all, it’s not about training. It’s about performance! If you have not read that article and you are interested, here you go: https://elearning.adobe.com/2017/07/flipping-training-on-its-head-getting-started-with-a-performance-support-video-solution/

For the rest of you, I promised part 2 this week.

Video IndexI ended last week’s post with a brief discussion of the importance of breaking down a multi-step process into manageable chunks, each one having its own discrete purpose toward the overall process.  Then, it’s a matter of developing an electronic job aid or video which demonstrates exactly how to perform that step.  In other words, let’s say you have a process which takes six discrete steps to complete.  You develop your video for each. Then, you make it available to your learners so that they can view the overall process and the individual steps required to complete it. Then, you put that into a tasty interface which makes it very easy for them to get the 30,000 foot view.

Here is an example of a simple interface. Each step of the process is listed and has its own performance support video. Notice how the running time of the video is also listed in minutes and seconds. (Side note: I attended the Focus on Learning conference last month in San Diego and heard someone say that the magic number is 4 minutes.  That’s how long it takes before learners start doing other things.) Including the running time is important. It helps users recognize up front that it will not take all day to watch any of these.  Remember, we used to drag them into the classroom for eight hours of intense training in which we made them drink from a fire hose. Getting what they need in 4 minutes or less is probably a new concept for some of them!

More importantly, very clear titles allow a user to select exactly that one particular video he or she needs to complete the overall process.  In the example you see here, let’s assume that our worker has done this overall process two or three times fairly successfully, but he is still having trouble generating his processing reports. He does not need training in the other five areas. He just needs a bit of help getting through step 5. So . . . after he completes step 4 with some success, he can open the video for step 5, watch it, and then do it.  Then it’s on to step 6. Easy-peasy!

Performance Support Steps showing beginning, seven steps, and result.So what does it take to build this type of system? It’s easier than you think, provided you have the right blend of people.  I’ve identified four very separate and distinct roles. Sometimes they overlap, and that’s okay if the person performing them can successfully do the functions of each.  It begins with the Project Manager. You also need your Subject Matter Expert (SME). You’ll need to bring in a Video Producer (Multimedia), and finally, a script writer.  I’ve done all of them myself on a number of projects. With the complexity of the content for which I’m developing my organization’s system, I’m generally not my own SME.

When I delivered this presentation at various national conferences for both ATD and the eLearning Guild, I would have participants break into groups of four, with each person taking on one of the roles and explaining the details of his or her role.  Then, I would ask them to stay in those roles as we performed the following exercise.  And that’s where I’m going to end this week’s installment.  With some homework.

perfSupport_instructionsIn this exercise, you are the subject-matter expert.  Your project manager has told you that the media producer is coming in next week to begin developing the actual videos – and she needs the process steps in the next few days.  You know the process well, but you’re just not sure how to list the individual steps. So . . . to help you out, I want you to do the following.  Go to your kitchen. Get the necessary ingredients and utensils to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  As you make one, write down each of the steps. You need to tell your project manager the number of steps it takes as well as a one sentence description of each step.

Go ahead. I promise you it will be a worthwhile endeavor. Next week, I’ll show you the solution I came up with and then take you into the next step of the performance support video development process.  And when we are finished, I will share with you a real-life performance support video solution I actually built for the process of constructing a PB&J.

Cheers until next week.