Many people think that all microlearning is short video content. That’s very far from the truth!
Microlearning is available in many formats, and the tools used to create it vary widely as well.
Dedicated microlearning authoring tools support a variety of microlearning platforms. In addition, microlearning development tools include a host of free and low-cost tools that enable creating microlearning in many formats: audio, infographics, videos, text or chat content. When a broad definition is considered, there are literally thousands of microlearning authoring tools that L&D teams and instructional designers can choose from.
Since much microlearning focuses on how to do something, video is a popular medium for microlearning.
Short instructional microlearning videos might use animations, screencasts or interviews that feature a subject matter expert explaining a process or concept on camera. Animations are a great way to explain concepts, present a discussion of corporate values, introduce product features or show learners how to do something. Screencasts can step learners through using any kind of software and are a great resource to refer to when learners have to do a seldom-needed task.
Dedicated microlearning development tools are not needed; anyone with a smartphone can create microlearning videos. These are simply short videos that teach a specific piece of information or answer a question.
Everyday tools like PowerPoint or Prezi can also become microlearning authoring tools. They make it possible to create animations, short videos or slides to use along with an interview or voice over to teach and instruct in a short microlearning video.
Camtasia and Snagit, both Tech Smith products, enable screen captures, screencasting and the creation of short videos as well. They also offer tools to edit video and add effects.
Another popular tool that many eLearning and microlearning developers use to create animated short videos is Vyond — formerly GoAnimate. Vyond offers low-cost packages. Its included templates and drag-and-drop creation simplify the creation of engaging animated microlearning videos.
Adobe’s Spark Video is another free tool for creating short videos. The video editor makes it easy to add photos, text overlays or captions, music icons and more to short videos.
Screencasting is a great way to show a process, such as how to use a software package. Short, focused videos can help learners through specific tasks. Screencast-O-Matic is one example of an easy-to-use tool. The screen recorder is free; low-cost packages add editing, libraries of stock images, and more.
Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard tool that enables screencasting, collaboration, recording and sharing videos, and much more. It has a free version and flexible pricing for individuals, small and large organizations and educational use.
Many familiar and free tools make easy work of creating microlearning infographics, interactive PDFs and even chat or text-message microlearning apps.
To serve as microlearning, an infographic simply has to teach or refresh a learner’s memory of how to do something. It can explain a concept, step learners through history or a process, or consist of an annotated diagram.
For example, the Venngage infographic tool offers hundreds of infographic templates and makes it easy to add your data, choose icons and create charts and data visualizations, and customize the look of your infographic.
The Knight Lab created free storytelling tools for journalists that anyone can use to create interactive microlearning. These microlearning development tools include:
Any short text can serve as microlearning. Text-based microlearning can appear in a mobile microlearning app, on a web page, as a digital file like a PDF that learners can share, in a chat app or in a searchable library of curated content. The options are unlimited.
It’s possible to create text- or chat-based microlearning using familiar eLearning authoring or development tools — or new platforms. Arist is an emerging platform to create text-message-based eLearning, for example. And anyone with common Adobe business software, like Acrobat or InDesign, can make their PDF files interactive and engaging.
Organizations moving to microlearning after using longer-form eLearning might already have one or more eLearning authoring tools. These do double-duty as microlearning development tools!
Look for features like responsive design and mobile-first development. Tools that create interactive activities or games for eLearning can do the same for microlearning.
Developing effective microlearning entails more than simply cutting longer eLearning modules into short learning nuggets of a few minutes each. However, there’s no reason not to use existing content and tools to reconfigure eLearning and create effective microlearning that teaches the same material.
Look for templates in the authoring tool for games, quizzes and other interactive activities, and build each activity around a small and narrowly focused bit of information: You’ve got bite-sized learning or microlearning. Create several units — or several dozen — that together create a coherent body of information on a topic. Some authoring tools will even allow you to create a shell or framework where the units are indexed and searchable.
If an eLearning authoring tool isn’t the right fit, microlearning development tools are emerging in the market. Some, like OttoLearn, offer many paths to microlearning. Create your own content and deploy it immediately — or contract with the OttoLearn team to turn your existing eLearning content or new content into microlearning for training, knowledge retention or performance support.
Other microlearning development platforms will take your content and create microlearning that is deployed via their app, a web platform, or as a course in your LMS.
Some platforms create only specific formats of microlearning, such as animated videos, games, interactive videos or chat-based microlearning. Others are more robust and can offer more than one format. The market is in flux, as vendors emerge and products evolve, so the choice of a microlearning development tool is highly dependent on the organization’s needs at the moment.