“Why did you specifically invite Shannon Tipton to conduct this masterclass on microlearning in the Netherlands?’ was what participant Nienke asked me mid-afternoon, and this is what I told her: Shannon has a very clear and realistic idea about why, how and when to use microlearning to get the best results – and when not to do so. Additionally, she has a lot of valuable experience with microlearning that she likes to share, and she’s a pleasant and professional guide during workshops. ‘Yes, I recognise everything about that’, replied Nienke, ‘Good choice, thank you!’.
On October 29, Shannon Tipton of Learning Rebels was in the Netherlands at the invitation of aNewSpring to host a one-day masterclass. A masterclass beyond the hype. The hype was already well underway, receiving another boost when Tony Bingham, president of the ATD, promoted it in a room filled with 10,000 L&D professionals during his opening speech at the ATD conference in Atlanta in 2017. According to Bingham, microlearning was ‘the’ theme of the moment.
Shannon Tipton was caught a bit off-guard by this statement, but she also knew that the workshop she was giving later that day would get a lot of attention. And she was happy about it. Her company isn’t called ‘Learning Rebels’ without a reason. A learning rebel thinks solutions should be logical and effective (‘it must make sense’). Above all, solutions must have a purpose. That’s why she started her masterclass by explaining what microlearning really is and talking about some frequent misconceptions about microlearning.
My colleague Govert de Jong, a customer success manager at aNewSpring, talks to learning designers on a daily basis. He took the liberty to provide you with his top-three facts based on attending Shannon’s masterclass.
1. Get to the point
‘If you don’t miss it, you don’t need it’. You have to make sure you know what the essence of your microlearning will be because we often tend to include too much information in microlearning. This is why Shannon made us write down our topics on post-its. Additionally, we had to get rid of all post-its that were not contributing to our exact learning goal. It’s a very simple and effective method, as you immediately forget the unnecessary items.
2. If they can’t find it, they won’t use it
If your intended participants can’t find your microlearning, they won’t use it. So you have to make sure it takes them the least possible effort to find the right information. Microlearning is often used as a performance support tool. Participants are often working on a specific task for which they need a little bit of specific support. Fast, easy to use, available and relevant. That’s what they’re looking for. A great technique to use is a QR-code; this will allow participants to find the right information instantly.
3. As long as necessary and as short as possible
We often think successful microlearning should obey certain rules regarding how compact or extended it should be. But microlearning isn’t bound to a certain time period or length. It doesn’t matter if it takes two or eight minutes, as long as you get your point across clearly. This depends on what kind of content you’re discussing. Try to be as critical as you can about what you need to explain everything as effectively as possible.
And what did Shannon Tipton think about the masterclass? Shannon mailed this message:
Thank you again for having me in Rotterdam – it was wonderful to work with the participants. Everyone was so friendly. I hope I can come back again soon. Maybe we can hold another session in the Spring?