5 Benefits of Micro Courses

Micro-content offers new possibilities for learner engagement.

We’ve discussed ways that micro learning can help educators shift their thinking about online content delivery. Micro learning is a broad concept, but one of the most popular forms of micro learning involves the idea of micro content—mini courses that learners can take independently from a larger course.

Micro content can be marketed in a variety of ways. It can be a supplement to a larger course, an onboarding course to help new learners become familiar with the platform, a free marketing sample in its own right, or even a crash course in topics deemed necessary or particularly timely.

However you choose to use micro content in your course, exploring it as a teaching tool comes with several benefits. Here are a handful of the top benefits micro courses offer educators, which I hope will be sufficient to convince you to give them a try.

1. They’re responsive to new developments, current events, and changing trends.

Everything is constantly changing, from industries, to technology, to best practices in instructional design. One thing you can be certain of, if you don’t keep up with what’s going on, you could easily find yourself lagging behind these developments and trying to sell courses that are woefully out of date.

Micro content bridges this gap by creating an effective means of rolling with the punches and providing new content at every turn. Eventually, you’ll come to view these changes not as a threat forcing you to go back and revise old material, but as an opportunity to get ahead of the pack and prove you are offering the most relevant material.

2. They address niche audiences.

Audiences come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them are highly unusual. The more niche an audience is, the more likely the are to be underserved. However, creating courses for niche audiences is a proven way to gain success in many industries. Because they are so niche, there tends to be fewer competitors, meaning you have an opportunity to offer unique content that your learners won’t be able to find anywhere else.

Micro content also allows you to address multiple niche audiences. It’s relatively easy to create a main course, and then offer a number of micro courses designed to show how to apply the main course principles for specific niches.

3. They’re quick to develop and deliver.

The turnaround on micro courses is another huge benefit. A large course may take months to write, structure, and deliver, while a micro course could be turned around in a week. You can poll learners about what would be most helpful to them in terms of a new course, and have that material ready to use in a matter of days—if not hours.

This lowers the bar in terms of how difficult it would otherwise be to test new ideas or explore with new audiences. The fast turnaround time is essential for offering learners the materials they need for success.

4. They provide fast feedback and make it easier to experiment and innovate.

One of the major benefits of the quick turn-around time on micro content is that it also makes it easier for educators to learn from their courses and try new things. Are you worried that a certain teaching technique won’t work? Go ahead and create a small course designed to play with it. Ask your learners what they thought and if they’d like more of the same. Notice that the niche course you created earlier received rave reviews? Time to expand the courses you offer to that demographic.

5. They’re easy to adapt to new purposes.

Finally, micro content is flexible. In LearnDash, it is easy to access old lessons and learning materials and drag and drop those lessons into your new course. In this system, micro courses can function almost like LEGO blocks, where you can quickly assemble them into a new course as necessary.

Similarly, once you develop a micro course, it’s relatively easy to take that and move it elsewhere. Want to create a YouTube channel full of micro content? That’s an effective marketing strategy for many businesses. Or, you can create micro courses as loss-leads for your course—small pieces of content that attract new customers who may ultimately sign up for a course, once they’ve had a chance to experience your content on a small scale. There are any number of ways to adapt this material, with relatively low risk if one of them turns out to not be so popular.

Micro courses pave the way for close-to-custom learning experiences.

Most online courses are designed to appeal to broad markets, and aren’t what we would consider “custom.” Without a tutor or specialized lesson plan, most of us have to find a course that comes close to matching our interests, and then work from there. However, because micro courses are so small and adaptable, instructors can come close to providing learners with personalized courses through responsive content designed to serve that niche.

Of course, to succeed with this course strategy, educators will have to work hard to learn from their learners about what kind of course the actually want. This requires educators to work closely with their community, blog heavily, and respond to learner feedback promptly so that they keep a finger on the pulse of what their learners need. It’s a lot of work, but the good news is that educators who can make this commitment are more likely to see a reward in terms of stronger learner engagement and higher completion rates.

Author

Laura is a marketing specialist with experience presenting at WordPress events in Ann Arbor and Vienna. She speaks Russian and German and holds a double MA (Hons) in History and Russian Studies from the University of Edinburgh.

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