Posted on 01-May-18
Macro to Micro-learning: How to Transform Your Course Library image

eLearning certainly isn’t new. And while microlearning is a trending industry topic, few companies have implemented microlearning and mobile learning programs. In fact, according to an ATD study, only 34 percent of all companies have implemented mobile learning programs while mobile-only users now outnumber desktop-only users by 80 percent to 14 percent.

And much of the challenge of transforming macrolearning courseware into microlearning stems from the fact that much macro courseware is 'locked up' in one-hour SCORM packages and subsequently, unavailable in bite-sized pieces. But countless studies have revealed that learners learn best when they’re met where they are, at their point of need, with small, easy-to-digest pieces of information.

Think of it like this: Members of the workforce already actively seek out information outside of work in little chunks and snippets – and this goes for non-millennials, too. We watch videos, access Instagram or Facebook posts, search retailers, buy things online, and check our emails and social media accounts several times a day. Everything comes into the brain very quickly and it comes in small pieces.

In fact, a recent Microsoft corporation’s study showed that the human attention span has shortened to eight seconds from 12 in only a decade due to digital lifestyles. So it only makes sense that instead of sharing endless theoretical knowledge into online courses, eLearning should instead shift to microlearning wherein giving application points of learning proves a better and more effective way to improve workplace performance.

So this obviously then begs the question: How do we simplify heavy course content into small microlearning pieces?

While Vector Solutions was developing its RedVector GO App, the company found a solution: a scalable content conversion process wherein they modernized their course library of over 5,000 accredited courses – without completely recreating them – to meet microlearning and mobile-learning demands.

The process they developed to convert hundreds of courses into thousands of microclips of valuable, on-demand microlearning for an increasingly mobile workforce worked as follows:

1. Identify Easily Convertible Content

The first goal is to identify the types of courses and content that can most easily be consumed in a microlearning experience by identifying the content that could most easily – and quickly – be converted into short microlearning segments.

The objective then is to sift through a course library and determine the most important skills learners would need and the courses that would deliver that content in an easily transferable format.

IRL Application: Vector Solutions determined that text-based content spanning several pages would be very difficult to display. However, video-based content was already segmented into 3- to 5-minute standalone learning objects, making content easier to break down and consume with the help of an app.

2. Identify Most On-Demand Content

The second objective is to identify courses that include content topics and skills commonly used on the job that would need to be available on-demand while working.

The main goal then is to deliver content that is applicable at the point-of-need in order to improve the performance, accuracy, and safety of workers by providing the right information at the right time.

IRL Application: In surveying clients, the product management team at Vector Solutions determined that there were roughly 600-700 hours of SCORM course content that supported workplace performance. But due to the volume of that video-based content, however, they needed to develop an innovative microlearning programming model that would enable them to identify only those learning objects that were workplace-relevant within each SCORM course.

They then determined that only some of their compliance-based courses had content that would be organically useful on the job and extraneous content, such as introductions and conclusions, would need to be removed. In doing so, they were able to identify over 10,000 separate microlearning video-based objects in the 600-700 hours of video-based content.

3. Identify The Best Content

In most curriculum courses, Subject Matter Experts cover topics comprehensively. And that’s actually good for gaining knowledge as it proves to be effective for academic and research purposes. However, learning in the workplace should increase performance. Therefore, taking the essential part of the course relevant to workplace settings is beneficial by removing all the fluff and taking the gist of the course content, and prioritizing ‘Need to Know’ content over ‘Nice to Know.’ This serves to align heavy course content with microlearning activities.

IRL Application: For example, a sales force needs training on selling skills, so it often proves needless to train them on the history of sales, the barter system, and more. Simple descriptions of sales skills and techniques would prove far more useful to them and much more efficient.

4. Make Content 'Searchable'

Since microlearning focuses on very specific, isolated topics, metadata would be needed to allow users to easily search for – and find – the information necessary. And with on-the-job searches often being time-sensitive, irrelevant search results not only lead to employee dissatisfaction but also wasted time and money for the company. As such, companies then need to identify metadata, independent of human intervention.

IRL Application: The objective, then, is to develop an 'innovative programming model' that will extract data from the SCORM courses from the course production database, and then place the extracted information into a microlearning database optimized to include only microlearning metadata.

This backend architecture of the microlearning content will then allow for faster queries of information and the efficient retrieval of video-based content and its associated metadata.

5. Scale The Process

Accessibility is key for professionals who are not able to escape the job site or plant floor. Now, efficient and effective microlearning with highly targeted, skilled content can be delivered whenever and wherever the learner needs it.

IRL Application: This now-streamlined process would then allow content creators to automate the conversion of an extensive course library. Workers can easily access information on specific topics to refresh knowledge of a situation they may currently be facing on the job. And such a contextualized learning strategy can not only increase productivity, efficiency, and safety but also increase comprehension rates.

By following the five steps above, the process of simplifying lengthy curriculum course content into microlearning modules can be relatively simple. With microlearning, employees can get highly effective training while improving their performance and achieving business objectives.

Victoria Zambito is a learning development and educational software expert with over 17 years’ experience. She is currently SVP of Content and Communications with Vector Solutions, one of the world’s leading providers of industry-focused SaaS solutions for continuing education (CE), training, technology and performance management. Zambito is responsible for aligning and rationalizing the company’s extensive library of over 7,000 courses across multiple brands, as well as enhancing, standardizing and modernizing all content. Prior to this, Zambito led the Product Management and Marketing functions where she drove creative, agile solutions to deliver products, supported sales pipeline development, and developed brand awareness and demand generation.

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