Small is beautiful. We’re hardly the first to notice this. The above phrase was popularized by British economist E. F. Schumacher’s book of the same name, which was a huge success in the seventies — and is still used to champion small, focused technologies that can be empowering for people.
In an eLearning and Talent Development context of course, “small”, “focused” and “empowering” can only mean one thing: microlearning — the practice of delivering and consuming learning material in small doses, which the learner can comprehend in a short time.
Since we’ve already published a few introductory posts on microlearning in the past, in this post we won’t waste any time in a general description of what microlearning is — rather we’ll go straight ahead and examine the kind of facilities there are when it comes to microlearning with eFront.
Before delivering your microlearning lessons, you first need to write them, and eFront makes this particularly easy.
In fact, if you’re already familiar with eFront’s content management and content creation tools, you’re absolutely good to go. Those are the same tools that you will use to create your microlearning content, since eFront doesn’t make a distinction or have a preference between macro and microlearning.
What really makes the difference between microlearning and “regular” learning content creation in eFront is not the tools used, but rather your approach to content creation.
Your microlearning content should focus on simple and/or narrow topics, be able to be consumed in a short amount of time, and require little effort from the learner for any individual microlearning session.
Whether it’s a small phrase or a medium-length paragraph — or even just a picture — it’s up to you. Just keep the subject matter focused; what’s communicated should be specific and concrete.
In this sense, microlearning is not very far from flash cards — and in fact a similar approach is often followed. With eFront though, your “cards”, or lesson units, can be rich and interactive, especially if you take advantage of the recently added support for H5P, a rich HTML5-based widget library.
eFront provides numerous question types, from free text to multiple choice and from true/false to drag-and-drop, that you can use to create micro-tests (comprised of one or a small number of questions). Plus, you can always leverage its support for question pools and automatic test creation, which makes delivering customized tests to your learners effortless.
Last, but not least, any of the imported file types that eFront supports (images, video, audio, pdfs, presentations, etc.) can be used in a microlearning scenario. EncodeMagic, our proprietary conversion engine, will make sure they work fine within your lesson content, whether they are seen from a desktop or mobile.
On the go
Speaking of mobile, while microlearning can certainly be done on a desktop, where it really shines, and where it is most useful, is when your learners are on the go.
Whether it’s on their morning commute, during a break in a coffee shop, or on a flight towards some business meeting, microlearning can be a powerful tool to learn new skills, reinforce their regular (macro) training, and even pass the time.
eFront, of course, is an ideal tool for this, as it has been remade from the ground-up with a responsive, mobile-first design that works seamlessly across smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
Of course, for true microlearning, just making your content and eLearning portal available on mobile devices is often not enough, nor is it wise to assume always-on connectivity.
That’s why our programming gurus took advantage of the latest web technologies to allow learners to continue, well, learning with eFront, even when offline.
By enabling offline support from a lesson’s settings page, microlearning content creators can easily make their eFront courses available for offline use.
Of course they will have to be careful to avoid content that necessitates internet availability, such as YouTube videos. Besides, the majority of content, from text and images, to sound, rich HTML5 and embedded videos are totally safe.
As for your microlearning consuming users, they just need to click the “Download” button for any lesson that they want to be able to use offline. eFront’s mobile portal is smart enough to automatically switch between offline and online mode, based on internet availability.
Having both mobile and offline access to eFront’s microlearning content means that your employees can learn as they commute or travel — or in literally anyplace and anytime when they have a few minutes to spare.
Another common aspect of microlearning that we haven’t mentioned this far, is that it should aspire to be engaging and fun, even more so than full-scale eLearning. This is because, as it takes places in a mobile and on-the-go context, it needs to compete with many distractions.
Gamification helps in this regard, and eFront has an advanced gamification engine that is customizable, allowing you to go from a light-gaming touch to a full-blown competition between your learners.
All the common tools are there too, from points and levels, to badges and leaderboards — and most allow you to fine-tune their behavior and even customize their graphics to fit your microlearning program even better.
Microlearning is a powerful tool to have in your eLearning and Talent Development arsenal, and eFront offers first class support for it, on par with its advanced macrolearning capabilities.
By adopting the microlearning content creation philosophy and familiarizing yourself with the relevant eFront features and options, you will be able to design and deliver a great microlearning experience in no time.