What is micro content and how can it boost your mobile learning strategy? By definition, mobile learning uses portable devices like smartphones, tablets, audio players, or other handheld devices. This delivery method works best with what is known as micro content – content that is short (under 5 minutes), concise (1 concept at a time), and focused. Micro content consists of bite-sized, stand-alone nuggets of valuable information. And although it is always brief, micro content might come in many forms, including, though not limited to, labeled diagrams, checklists, infographics, flashcards, short quizzes, single animations, short learning videos, or slide shows.
How can you use micro content effectively in your mobile learning strategy?
1. Performance support
Mobile devices can play a powerful role in performance support. Unlike formal classroom or online learning that is taken away from work, performance support includes tips and tricks, small learning bits that support a learner at the time of job performance. Maybe you’ve attended an all-day seminar on how to conduct effective job interviews, but when it comes time to conduct your first interview, you access a cheat sheet of effective questions on your phone. That cheat sheet is a powerful support tool.
Sometimes performance support materials can even replace formal training – how many times have you watched a step-by-step YouTube video on your phone while in the middle of repairing an appliance in your home?
2. Review and reinforcement
Because most people carry a smartphone at all times, using micro content delivered via phone can be an effective way to review or reinforce content that has been delivered in other ways. A learner in a multi-week training program might have strategic checkpoints to complete as self-study on his/her phone. This review might be in the form of a quiz over some key concepts or e-flashcards reviewing the most important terminology. If used in conjunction with an app or a learning portal, the facilitator may be able to see who has completed which of the interim check points.
One of our clients taught Advanced Procedure Writing in a 1-day seminar. As participants did not regularly use the skills learned in the seminar, we created an online brochure that captured the key takeaways so students could reference the information on their mobile devices whenever necessary.
3. Close a small knowledge gap
One of the biggest learning challenges occurs when you have to convey content that is constantly being updated – procedural changes, updated equipment specifications, regulatory updates, etc. If those updates can be conveyed in the form of micro content, mobile deployment is a great approach.
We had a large retail client that uses handheld barcode readers/scanners as a big part of their daily procedures. The specific keystrokes to perform certain functions changed often, though the concept of how to use the scanners stayed the same. We created an app for them to deploy very short tutorial videos with the updated keystrokes. Employees could be up to speed in about 90 seconds.
Another example is this online checklist we created to help close a knowledge gap about cybersecurity.
4. Small building blocks of knowledge
So it’s good for review or reinforcement, but what about as a means for learning new content? While mobile learning is not the best modality for learning complex or unpredictable models, it can be great for content that lends itself to small bits – like foreign language vocabulary – and is part of a predictable, stable model – like the elements of the periodic table.
Here is an example we developed to teach the components of a cell. Even though it is micro content, it could be strung together with other small building blocks to create a biology course for mobile delivery.
5. Make it fun
Consider using micro content elements to make otherwise dry content more enjoyable. Create leveled challenges, game-like assessments, or maybe leader boards that allow for a little friendly competition. There is a reason for the popularity of apps like Duolingo or Dragon Box. They can make even tough content like foreign language or algebra fun and appealing.
Consider using micro content as a teaser before the rollout of learning initiative. You could create a quiz to create a sense of curiosity or a flashcard game previewing the new terminology that will part of a corporate change initiative.
Mobile learning offers many advantages – relatively rapid development, learning available throughout the day, learning available on many convenient devices – and micro content can really support your mobile learning strategy. Have more suggestions for effectively using micro content in your mobile learning strategy? Leave us a comment!