Making Micro Course Content

Editing-ElearningIf you have created an online course you know that it doesn’t take long before the course can become quite large consisting of many lessons and sub-topics.

While some courses simply require this much content, it isn’t always ideal from a learner perspective.

We live in a world of short attention spans.

What’s more, when the course is take from a computer there is a world of distraction literally available at the learner’s fingertips.

If your course has lesson after lesson after lesson, expect learners to wander to their email or favorite websites.

Use Micro Learning

To help prevent this from happening it’s a good idea to use micro learning where possible.

First, micro learning is often preferred by learners as it doesn’t take long to consume the content.

It has been suggested that breaking up content into small “chunks” is going to make the transfer of learning more efficient.

This could be for a variety of reasons, but one possibility is that learning in stretches of 3-7 minutes matches our working memory capacity.

From an organizational perspective micro learning generally costs less to create than traditional courses since less designing is needed to make the content of all the lessons flow together.

If you already have a large course then you can consider breaking it down into smaller mini-courses.

If you can’t do it to the entire course, then one option is to break out some of the content and make those mini-courses the pre-requisites to the larger, more detailed course.

This has the benefit of providing micro learning opportunities and also making the longer course a little more concise.

One last thing: micro learning isn’t the “be all end all”.

Sometimes an online course cannot be split up, nor should it.

Use your best judgement if micro learning is conducive to the course content.


About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

  1. Justin, another great post.

    Is there an (easy) way to wrap micro-learning bites into a module/topic, which is then part of a course – and then be able to sell each component, either as an individual micro-bite or as a full course, without clogging up the site with 1000’s of bites of learning? I’ve 4 main courses, each with 10 modules, which then could have 10 topics…making 400 bites, even before looking at other things…

    This would be really interesting and cover all the bases.

    Ideas welcome, before I start designing the best way forward!

  2. The problem with “micro course content” is that it while there are some small, stand-alone learning elements, such as things like vocabulary lists, historical events, or perhaps some refresher content, many things that make a long course necessary, including extended attention drawn to a particular subject, over time, makes this “micro” stuff not very useful. Dividing a course into 400 bites is a bit like dividing a week’s worth of dinner into 400 bites. There is a reason we don’t do it that way, and it doesn’t make sense. The more educated people become, the longer it takes them to accomplish tasks which become ever more complex. 5-7 minutes is enough to read an email and come up with a response one already knows and understands. But actual thinking takes longer than that. Simply because more people have smartphones (and thankfully their screens are getting a little bigger), doesn’t mean that everything can, or should, be put on small screens and divided up into small attention span segments that can be accessed on-demand. Sure, some things work for that, but most learning, I would argue, does not, nor should it, nor could it.

  3. It is an extremely interesting topic, chunking course content into smaller more digestible pieces for two reasons. First, as mentioned by Justin, it corresponds better to the reduced attention span people have in today’s digital era & probably suits better the memory capacity, and second, if you monetize your courses, then it represents a smaller risk and hence a smaller threshold to purchase.

    Here an example. Instead of charging 60$ for a 1-hour course, your chunk it into 6 courselets of 10 mins each and charge 6$ per courselet. If the customer is not happy, she can quit after consuming one courselet and had spent only 6$, compared to having paid 60$ for the 1h online course (or DVD).

    And here comes the micropayment into play. People don’t want to subscribe on a monthly basis to so many different providers, but want to pay per use (PPU).

    An globally oriented Austrian startup called created a digital marketplace platform, where vendors/merchants (in our case training providers) can upload micro course videos and related pdf documents and charge a small amount per view (PPU), say 99 cents. Such low price thresholds motivate online users to pay for consuming such exclusive and valuable digital content because of the low risk and the PPU transaction mechanism, which do not lock them in.

    Please try out the open platform and let me know if it works for you. The time-to-market is a matter of hours and the only costs involved is the revenue share on the transactions of 20:80%. I am interested in your feedback.

    If you are interested in using the whole platform as your own digital ecosystem (white label), then let me know as well, as I am helping the founders to develop their business B2B as well.

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