I met with a client today that was offering their employees 10-hour online courses (conventional course, sequential navigation with chapters) under the name of microtraining. My face was enough to make them realize what I was thinking 😀 😀
At the time, I already stated my opinion on the doubts I have about the real time spent on some online courses, but the reflection is now more subtle. Which duration can be considered a microcourse as a microtraining and which can’t?
Is a 10 Hour Microcourse Microtraining?
I believe that microlearning can be understood from two approaches. On one hand, as a unitary object, of very short duration that provides us with knowledge and/or learning. For example, a video of a few minutes explaining a concept or an idea. You can combine this resource with others of the same or different type, for example, a blog post, an infographic, or a Twitter thread to achieve a certain knowledge.
On the other hand, microlearning can be a set of short resources grouped in a didactic sequence (a microcourse :D). In this case is where the question of effective and efficient time commitment arises. And here is where I advocate that a microtraining (if we assume to call it that) should not exceed 1 to 3 hours.
Why Is a 1-3 Hour microcourse a Good Measure for Microtraining?
I think it’s an appropriate length of time to spend on an activity related to knowledge, without losing focus and for retaining better the concepts. And it’s a duration that is not too heavy. Think about the average commitment of the activities we do on a regular basis: a movie, a play, a meal, a concert, a football match, a walk or even sex. The duration of most of our leisure activities is less than two hours. And two hours (or three) is a good measure for a microcourse and microtraining.
Someone might point out (probably rightly so), that we consume a lot of content in series format (which cumulatively is much more than the time we would dedicate to movies), but it’s because of the power that the length of a series has (between 20 and 50 minutes per episode), that when we get in front of a screen to watch it, we know that our attention is “under control”. And if we then want to watch another episode or other content, the decision is ours.
The same can be applied to other microlearning initiatives such as Duolingo, or SoloLearn: tiny unitary impacts combined to make a bigger learning unit, but that, on their own, they make sense, are logical and work autonomously.
As a result, the goal with online training is to design contents and didactic sequences that make our users want to acquire new knowledge. That allows them to build their own learning.
And thus, in my humble opinion, the shorter the more effective the training impacts will be. 🙂
If you are interested in learning more about microlearning, we think you would like these articles:
- Qué es el microlearning, en qué se fundamenta y posibles aplicaciones.
- 100 recursos relacionados con el microlearning.
- Ejemplos en los que funciona la combinación microlearning + móvil.
- La paradoja del microlearning: cuando menos es más.