There’s a great deal of confusing buzz around microlearning. Whatever it actually means, the name simply implies training in small doses. Perceived by many as a cop out for trainers who can’t make full-length training modules and by the financial folks as poor value when compared to an hour-long training module.

In reality, short form training is what users want, not clicking their way through tedious Storyline modules (of course they don’t have to tedious). How do we know? Just ask your audience! If they have a pulse they will confirm that quick, entertaining and digestible information is what they need to get their jobs done and avoid bed sores from sitting in front of long tedious, but amazingly comprehensive materials.

Just before you declare, “Oh come on, you can’t teach complex subjects this way,” allow me to calm your troubled brow. It’s all about a pyramid of information. At the top of the pyramid is a tight, easy to digest training video, animation or Rise module. Below that is a set of more detailed and expansive explanations. In the video, you mention terms or concepts (that are probably understood by your audience). The curious or uninformed can then dive into the more detailed materials.

This approach has enormous benefits for mixed audiences. You know the problem! All your experienced employees understand the jargon and just want the facts, the newbies need much more. If you load up the main module with too much background your old hands will turn off.

What does this mean then? The answer is fairly simple. Apply all the same techniques to develop the content you always do, but and it’s a big but, think in layers. Start with the main short overview that leads to supporting deeper modules. It’s actually easy and exciting. Much less linear than normal development. You start with an overview and that forms the outline for the main video. As you introduce complex notions, you consider expanding that into an optional sub-module.

It may not be clear how you provide navigation in this format. There are several approaches you can use. One is at the end of the main video, you provide access to the more detailed information. Alternatively, if your environment provides it, you insert links that appear as the concepts are introduced. However, this is a bit counter to the overall approach as it encourages learners to step away from the main video without necessarily completing it. A third approach is to take learners onto the second layer a the end of the first and allow random access to whatever expanded information they need or are interested in. This works well, as long as it’s clear this is background study not compulsory.

If you got this far you may want to know how to start. It’s fairly simple. When you work with your stakeholder or business partner you start with the overview and develop it to match your learning objectives. A good length is between 2 and 3 minutes, which equates to a script of around 240 – 360 words. Not lot of words, but a great way to focus your thinking. Try it and you’ll be surprised at how effective it is.