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Microlearning Courses & Information Overload


August 13, 2019



5 Ways To Prevent Information Overload in Microlearning Courses

Microlearning is, or at least should be, the very antidote to information overload. Information overload is a phenomenon which occurs when a person is exposed to too much information or data. This results in difficulty in understanding the subject at hand. As microlearning uses short, crisp and concise content and visuals, and is no longer than 5 minutes in duration, it is utilised to combat information overload by exposing learners to the information in short, concentrated bursts.

An ideal microlearning course would, in fact, combat information overload, however, corporate organizations don’t always create or buy the ideal microlearning courses for the personal and professional development of their employees. If microlearning is failing to combat information overload in your organization, it means it wasn’t properly designed and executed.

In this article, we’ll discuss 5 ways to prevent information overload in microlearning courses, along with possible reasons information overload could occur while taking microlearning courses.

1. Lack Of Clear Headlines And Titles

The structuring of content is important whether a course is a traditional eLearning course or a microlearning course. Without proper headlines or titles, the course content looks like one large chunk of content, which is what may cause information overload in some learners. Many organizations avoid including defined headlines and titles in their microlearning courses, due to the preconceived idea that it is unnecessary for 5 minute courses to have headlines and titles due to their length. Even generic titles like “Benefits” or “Challenges” may cause information overload they are easily skipped and thus don’t explain their content in a detailed manner, often leading to the learner processing the entire microlearning module as one.

2. An Excess Of Visuals

Although microlearning courses are only meant to have the essential eLearning elements, like content, audio, visuals, videos and interactive questions, designers may sometimes include excess visuals in the course in order to engage learners. This has a tendency to backfire, as too many visuals may cause information overload for learners. A multitude of microlearning courses are video-based, which unlike photos, do not cause information overload. The primary culprit of information overload is too many images or vivid graphics on every page, which can be avoided by utilising an LMS which offers users a library filled with an array of ready-made templates, like SC Training (formerly EdApp).

3. Insufficient Elimination Of Irrelevant Content

One of the tenets of microlearning is its ability to eradicate all irrelevant content, leaving only pure, unadulterated knowledge. Chunking content in a way that leaves the essence of the information at hand can be a difficult process. In light of this, newbie or amateur designers increase the number of modules in the course instead of chunking content properly. The result is not a microlearning course, but a traditional eLearning course broken into several 5 minute modules. This will lead to information overload as the content has not been transformed into microlearning content, instead being divided into more parts.

4. Too Many Modules In A Microlearning Course

As mentioned above, certain designers are under the impression that a traditional course can be transformed into a microlearning course by merely dividing it into 5 minute modules. Information overload is a common outcome as too many modules in one course can often confuse learners, meaning information is not properly absorbed and retained. For example, take a 4 hour long eLearning course consisting of eight 30 minutes long modules. Instead of dividing the eLearning course into 60 microlearning modules, the designer should focus on effectively analyzing the content in the 4 hour long course to create no more than 15 microlearning modules, each 5 minutes long with relevant and digestible course content.

5. Highlight Important Content

Sometimes learners do not have a complete understanding of which information is important in a course, despite learners retaining only the quintessential content in a microlearning course. Although this might not lead to information overload, it still leads to the possible confusion in the learner. In order to make it comprehendible and call learners’ attention to the crème de la crème of the microlearning course, it is more effective to use various fonts, themes and styles.

Efficient design is the difference between a successful eLearning course and a work in progress, be it traditional eLearning or microlearning. If you have the great responsibility to create microlearning courses for your organization, make sure to explore the best microlearning LMS which advances your organization to the next level.


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Guest Author Daniel Brown

Daniel Brown is a senior technical editor and writer that has worked in the education and technology sectors for two decades. Their background experience includes curriculum development and course book creation.

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