ARTICLE: Jordan Aguilar

Is microlearning the secret to engaging your EdTech product’s users?

Successful EdTech product teams do more than design a product that’s easy to use; they design products that support learners’ goals. And the only way to support learners’ goals is to know the learners themselves. That’s a continual challenge as users’ needs, priorities, and preferences are always shifting.

Post-pandemic, it’s clear that learners won’t automatically return to any well-worn paths. They’re more interested in blazing their own educational trail, shaped by their own unique goals. People have discovered facets of their lives — including education — are more malleable than they once thought. 

Allowing learners to get information when and how they want it is a tall order for EdTech products. Microlearning can be part of the solution. 

Microlearning is an approach that aims to deliver digestible and relevant “chunks” of information at just the right moment. When EdTech products blend microlearning with good UX, learners have a new avenue to achieving their educational goals.  

4 Ways Microlearning Facilitates Learning Experiences

Microlearning works harmoniously with learners’ mental models. There’s no denying people are used to — and even expect — “bite-size” interactions, whether it be in games, audio, video, or text. Ideally, microlearning units shouldn’t take more than mere minutes to complete.

When implemented correctly, microlearning provides four major benefits:

1. Microlearning Delivers Results Quickly

With microlearning, instructors can build a course with multiple units in a short period of time. Students can move through one unit and onto the next to quickly hit learning milestones. 

2. Microlearning Is Inherently Flexible

Microlearning courses are capable of covering any subject in multiple ways, whether in broad overviews or snippets of information.

Microlearning also allows people to customize their learning experience. Conforming to a more rigid, traditional learning structure is no longer mandatory. Learners can find a flexible solution in microlearning (just look to continuing education for proof of success).

3. Microlearning Can Be More Engaging 

Even learners with well-honed attention spans can struggle to stay engaged. Microlearning dispenses small learning units and quick-hit learning activities — short bursts of content for learners to study at their convenience. 

Given its pocket-sized nature, microlearning is ideal for mobile devices and on-the-go learning experiences. 

4. Microlearning Can Be a Cost-Effective Option

Depending on the format, courses that implement a microlearning approach may be easier to create and maintain. Some may not require facilitation by an instructor — and that can add up to real cost savings.

When Does Microlearning Impede a Learning Experience?

Microlearning can be a great approach but must be used with discernment. It’s certainly not an educational silver bullet. Microlearning typically won’t work well with:

  • Complex concepts. Microlearning works better for broad overviews. It’s more difficult to tackle complexity; sometimes splitting concepts into smaller units just doesn’t make sense.
  • Scaled personalized content. Yes, microlearning can be an important part of customized learning. But it’s tedious — and even impossible in many circumstances — to chunk out and customize all information for each individual learner.  

How to Leverage Microlearning & UX: A Successful Strategy

As EdTech products aim to utilize both learning experience (LX) and user experience (UX) methodologies, microlearning can (and should) be part of the mix. But in order to maximize its potential, your product team needs to bear in mind two key details:.

Make Educational Content Succinct and Strong

There’s no two ways about it: Microlearning requires extremely high-quality content.

You can’t just convert all your learning materials to microlearning. You’ve got to start with solid, credible educational content that can get away with being broken up. In that case, you can facilitate teaching some of it even better via microlearning techniques. But if that content isn’t strong, microlearning could actually hurt your product’s reputation.

Deliver Quick Information Hits, Not Slow Knowledge Burns

Microlearning should deliver information quickly and not in a way that allows exploration or tries to promote deep learning. The user experience in your EdTech product, then, needs to be more task flow in nature. That means units should be: 

  • Simple. Users should have as few options as possible so as to minimize interface distraction. 
  • Linear. Users should be able to accomplish a goal in your product in a direct, predictable way. 
  • Sequential. Users should move through a series of steps from beginning to end of a goal.

Examples of microlearning that you might implement in your EdTech product:

  • Short learning texts that utilize relevant visuals and media.
  • Micro-assessments to engage learners and track learner progression.
  • Lessons spaced with at least a 12-hour gap between them in order to allow the learner to recover and convert information to long-term memory.
  • Lessons broken into 15-minute segments to enable the learner to integrate learning into their daily schedule.

Gather and Use Microlearning-Based Data

Because users can quickly and efficiently complete short units, microlearning offers a unique way to track comparative data and progress over time. 

You can gather more data points without creating a burden on your users. Administrators, instructors (if applicable), and UX researchers can increase their ability to understand the success of the content — and evaluate the method in which it’s delivered.

Microlearning Can Pack a Powerful Punch For EdTech Products

Learners want to be in charge of their own educational trajectories. More and more, they are looking for ways to focus, cut the fluff out of their coursework, and learn only what they view as relevant and supportive of their goals. The EdTech industry needs to take heed. 

Microlearning is not applicable or appropriate in all learning environments or for all learning outcomes. But in the right circumstances, less truly is more. 

Microlearning can create great momentum for learners and help them achieve their goals faster and more efficiently. And shouldn’t facilitating that be one of your EdTech product’s primary goals?

  • Photo of Jordan Aguilar
    Jordan Aguilar

    Jordan brings a blend of skills and life experiences that influence him in his role as UX designer at Openfield. A graduate of Miami University’s Interactive Media Studies in Oxford, Ohio, Jordan has worked in design and development roles so he understands the nuances of the relationship between UX and engineering. You don’t need to talk to him for long to learn how important his family is to him. Accessibility and empathy for all users isn’t just a job requirement for him, it’s directly inspired by the people who are closest to him. From an early age, visual arts have been a passion of Jordan’s. He currently enjoys digital illustration, 3D modeling, and experimenting with realism, stylization and abstraction in his work. In a noisy world, he finds calm and focus in simple things such as listening to the sound of falling rain.

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