Sustaining Learning with Microlearning

Slight change of plan. This week we will discuss using microlearning for sustained learning; next week we’ll look at the mastery strategy.

Last week we discussed a microlearning strategy that can be deployed when the microlearning is the learning (there is no large-scale learning event). This week we will consider how to use microlearning in the common case where there is a large learning event and the goal is to sustain learning over time.

Let’s review. In the first post we reviewed the well-known learning/forgetting curve:

Learning - Forgetting

And we showed how microlearning can be used for learning in the absence of a learning event:

Learn Campaign

Now let’s consider how microlearning can be effectively used for sustaining learning following a learning event. Note the emphasis on “effectively.” An effective sustainment strategy is more than just sending out reinforcement videos after the learning event. Like the Learn strategy we discussed in the previous post it must deploy two evidence-based strategies:

  • Successive relearning spaced over time
  • Retrieval practice

In Intela, the Sustainment strategy looks like this:



This strategy borrows elements from the Learn strategy. It is a series of Learning Subscriptions (spaced learning over time), followed by Learning Sprints (adaptive questioning) for retrieval practice. But there is one important difference:

Unlike the Learn strategy we are assuming there has been a prior learning event, so we just need to sustain what has previously been learned, not teach it from scratch.

But this presents a problem:  What learning gets sustained? We don’t want to repeat the entire course in microlessons. This becomes a judgment call on the instructional designer’s part. What parts of the learning content are most important to sustain? Where might our learners be having difficulty? (If you have used a knowledge check at the completion of, or soon after, the learning event you probably have a good idea what this content is.)

Once you have decided which content needs to be reinforced you can then create Learning Subscriptions by repurposing the important content from the learning event into microlessons. Repurposing the course content into microlessons will save you lots of time and money. These microlessons can be videos, podcasts, job aids, infographics, animations or short eLearning segments.

Be sure to follow up these Subscriptions with Sprints (adaptive questioning exercises) for retrieval practice. Then at the end of the sustainment period you can deliver another knowledge check to be sure the learning has stuck.

Next week we introduce the Mastery microlearning strategy, which solves the “what to sustain” problem by personalizing the remedial microlearning.



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