A Practical Guide to Curating a Microlearning Program

Arun Devan
7 min readDec 21, 2020
Photo by Hannah Wei on Unsplash

This post describes the key elements for curating and publishing a microlearning program.

Microlearning is a way of accelerating learning in small focused bursts. It is becoming more relevant today as modern learners need to learn regularly to acquire the required skills and adopt the behavioural changes to thrive in the marketplace.

Successful microlearning programs need to support learners who face the challenges of inadequate time, information overload and regular distraction by providing them with precise and personable learning content that they can apply right away to attain their learning objectives.

Curating

In this section, I will take you through the key steps to curate a microlearning program.

Learner Persona

Who are you building your learning program for? What is your ideal learner persona?

A learner persona is a semi-fictional description of the ideal learner for your microlearning program. Defining this persona upfront will help you focus on your curation process as you develop your learning content. You are more likely to attract the right learners who will benefit the most from your microlearning program. They are also more likely to engage with other learners who share similar learning objectives or goals.

Some key characteristics that could help you build your learner persona include:

  1. Basic demographic information: age range, occupation, skews male or female (if relevant), language skills, prior experience, etc
  2. Motivations: learners’ goals, career aspirations, potential challenges, etc
  3. Potential outcomes from taking the program and objections that may be offered as reasons not to take the program

Learning Objectives / Goals

From the persona or personas that you have identified — there can be more than one — specify your microlearning program’s goals. The goals could include developing a competency, behaviour or skill. What your learner can expect to gain from completing the program.

Borrowing from Gnowbe’s mantra; ideally your program should be built so that the learner is able to Know > Think > Apply > Share and results in observable behavioural changes arising from the learning journey.

Learning Pitch

Next, craft your program’s messaging so that it resonates with your Learner Persona. Your program pitch should offer potential learners a glimpse into their learning journey and positive outcomes.

Program Structure

The key chapters or sessions that should be included:

  1. Introduction
  2. Why should the learner be interested?
  3. Details: What, Where, When and How
  4. Summary

Specific to building or curating a microlearning program, you may need to define the following:

  1. The number of sessions and the number of learning steps or actions per session.

A learning session should be focused on a concise topic that should not take more than 10 minutes to complete. Focus on curating content that the learner ‘must know’ instead of that which is ‘nice to know’.

Learning actions or steps could include the following:

a. Textual information that is chunked into short sentences and bulleted to be read through within a minute

b. Videos — ideally less than 3 minutes in length

c. Quotes that enhance learning reflection

d. Infographics or GIFs that enhance the learning content

e. Quizzes, polls or formative assessments (multiple choice or true / false questions)

f. Engagement with co-learners in the program by sharing their opinions and feedback and interactions with their posted content

Platforms like Gnowbe include features that nudge and encourage learners through in-app messages and followup with additional learning content through scheduled emails.

You could start by offering a preview microlearning program that may have up to 5 sessions with 5 learning actions per session. This short program could be offered free and include a promo code to enrol for the extended program.

A regular microlearning program may have up to 10 sessions with up to 10 learning actions per session.

An ‘epic’ or extended program could have up to 20 sessions with up to 10 learning actions per session.

Research and Collate Content

Based on your program structure, start to collate information in the different formats (text, video, images, quotes, etc) based on your subject matter expertise or research.

After the content has been gathered, you can begin the process of organising it: chunking the textual content and using short videos instead of just textual learning content where appropriate. Space out the learning journey with quotes, humorous (and relevant) GIFs, quizzes, polls, assessments, etc.

Check that you have not plagiarised content developed by other creators by using a plagiarism checker. State the sources of your content where relevant and give credit to creators whose works you make reference to.

The Gnowbe platform enables the learning curator to personalise the content by inserting macros which can fill the leaner’s name — as an example. Bridge the learning actions by letting learners know what they can expect next. This becomes relevant for learners who may need to put on a head / earphones to watch videos — especially if they are learning in public spaces.

Make the content personable, relatable and learner-friendly.

Learner Engagement

Include learning actions that encourage learners to share their reflections or opinions with their co-learners. Nudge learners of your microlearning program to engage with the comments made by other learners to enhance their own learning process.

Get learners to rate their satisfaction with the learning program at various stages so that the curator can review them to enhance the program for all learners.

Formative and Summative Assessments

Include assessments into your program so that leaners can check on their learning progress and qualify for certificates of completion or attainment based on rules that the program curator sets.

Formative assessments assess how a learner is progressing with a learning program.

Summative assessments assess how much a learner has learned upon completion of a program.

These assessments can be either timed or non-timed. With timed assessments, learners will have to respond within a set time to either open-ended or multiple-choice questions.

Behavioural Nudges

Nudge your learners to take suitable actions to sustain their learning momentum and complete the program to realise the program’s goals. Offer encouragement, congratulate them when they complete each session and remind them to continue their learning journeys if they have paused for too long.

Quality Review

After the program has been curated, review the entire program at one sitting to check for any issues and correct them as you proceed.

If it is possible, get a friend or associate to review the microlearning program after you have completed the initial review. Request them to provide you with specific feedback: content that may not have been curated suitably, content that may hinder the learning process or any other improvements that may be required.

Ensure that the quality reviews are performed on all device types — smartphones, tablets, desktops, that the learning program has been built for.

Publishing

Program Launch

Finally, after all that work that has been done, your microlearning program is ready to launch. You may need to build a simple website or landing page where potential learners can visit to review the program before they decide to enrol.

You could start by promoting your program to your family, friends and associates — if it is appropriate.

To reach a wider audience, you may have to develop a marketing plan that could include social media marketing, some online advertising and in some cases selected influencer marketing.

In the initial stages, you may also offer promo codes to entice leaners to enrol into a new program.

My Microlearning Program

If you are keen on the emerging topic of blockchain technology and to experience a microlearning program curated on the Gnowbe platform, then be sure to check out my program: Blockchains for Business Folks.

This program is aimed at learners who are getting to know about blockchains and are keen to potentially apply their knowledge to take on upcoming jobs in the field and to build their own startups. Ideal learners will be those with some business / industry experience or knowledge, strong interest in digital technology and fascinated with the power of disruptive technologies to spur growth and innovation.

The goal of this program is to introduce the basic concepts of blockchain technology and its potential business applications in the areas of security, record-keeping, algorithmic contract executions, supply chain traceability, decentralised finance and more.

The Curator’s Journey

I began actively learning about blockchain technology in the last quarter of 2017 after I had sold a 15 year old information technology business that delivered digital transformation projects for enterprises of various sizes.

I summarised my learnings through several Medium posts and started to build instructional content with the plan to conduct blockchain related courses in the future.

Through an ex-colleague’s referral, I was introduced to a well established blockchain related business that was in the initial stages of setting up its training academy. The head of the academy, suggested that I enrol for the Advanced Certificate in Learning and Performance (ACLP) programme to develop the essential competencies required of a modern learning facilitator for adult learners. I completed the 6-month part-time programme conducted by the Institutue of Adult Learning (IAL) in January 2020. I went on to conduct five in-person workshops at the blockchain academy before the pandemic put an end to in-person training workshops.

But I was prepared — just by chance. In December 2019, I stumbled onto a microlearning platform, Gnowbe. I completed the learning program and was accredited as a Gnowbe Mobile Instructional Designer (MID) in early 2020. I was prepared to transition from blended learning to fully digital mobile and desktop app based learning content development.

You can review my LinkedIn profile here: linkedin.com/in/arundevan

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