ATD2015 Session: Training gets a trim – Microlearning for a new workforce

#ATD2015 Session: Training Gets a Trim – Microlearning for a New Workforce

Looking for ideas on how to create thin-sliced content for JCC faculty, I was looking for ideas and strategies to apply. I decided to attend Alex Khurgin’s ATD Conference session on microlearning. Alex Khurgin, Creative Director for Grovo, gave a highly entertaining and informative presentation on microlearning. Microlearning is learning through small, focused, accessible bits of content. Create better learning and performance outcomes for everyone while spending less time and money doing it.

Khurgin learned a valuable lesson when his team created a 28 second video on protecting Facebook privacy. The analytics showed that users stuck around to watch it. In fact,he says the sweet spot for video attention is 30-90 second videos.

Traditional training cannot keep up with rapid changes both technologically and culturally. We need a faster way to get content to the street.

Khurgin showed an interesting comparison about attention spans; they are decreasing:

  • 1998 – 12 min
  • 2008 – 5 min
  • 2018 – ??

He demonstrated this comparison by showing side-by-side clips of Hot Fuzz and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

We are in competition for paying attention. Training managers want help. There are platforms everywhere, content is fragmented, technology evolves too quickly, and ROI isn’t known and feared.

Learners want inspiration. The half life on skills is 2.5 years. Learners demand a consumer look and feel. They are distracted and lack attention for long training. Training leads to little or no retention or application.

Microlearning is better for engagement. It is an extension of micromedia. It provides on the go content that is quick and easily understood.

When creating micro content, leave only relevant information. This does not overload the learner. They should be able to easily absorb 4-5 objectives at a sitting.

Microlearning benefits:

  • faster, cheaper, and easier
  • content is modular
  • less time to design and execute
  • easier to experiment
  • just in time learning when they need it
  • learners are more receptive
  • can be used as performance aid
  • trackable and assessible
  • measurable
  • can be images, videos, short textual content

Grovo organizes their content in learning tracks.

Whats possible with microlearning? You can align and refresh learning program with business needs. Quickly make small targeted improvements. All learning needs are facilitated in concert. You can also align microlearning with organizational goals.

Khurgin also introduced 5 learning moments of need by Gottfredson and Mosher:

  • new
  • more
  • apply
  • solve
  • change

Khurgin stressed that learning is a part of everything that happens in the business. Learning is a utility like water and electricity. Think of water as a utility; you have a shower, sink, and toilet… each has a different use. Utility is the last thing you stop paying.

Tips for launching microlearning

  • choose a format
  • create grandular units
  • organize holistically
  • reinforce with practice and assessments
  • more tips in Grovo playbook

Build against enabling objectives (Again, those darn objectives). You can take complex topics and break them down to micro objectives. Consider context when developing microlearning. Use scenarios when asking questions. Write the script, do the voice over, and do the screen grab.


  • combats 21st century challenge
  • faster easier and cheaper to produce
  • leads to better learning results
  • makes learning part of the business strategy

The ideas gained from this presentation builds upon the ideas learned in the How to make video for learning that’s Fabulous, Fast, and Affordable and Brief is Beautiful: Bite-size Content and the New E-learning presentations. Videos are certainly a strategy our TEI team will be using in the days ahead. This presentation was a nice way to end the ATD breakout sessions.