How many times have you gone to Google to search for instructions on a new piece of software you’re learning? Or to find out how to perform a routine task in an unfamiliar interface? Or to answer a simple question that you just can’t find in your user manual?

Now imagine a different way to find these answers. Instead of searching online—often while trying to describe a process you do everyday in words that a search engine will understand—what if there was an easier and more seamless way to find answers to these common questions?

That’s the idea behind embedded e-Learning, where educational content is available to you where you actually need it. Let’s say, for example, you’re learning a new software program and just can’t figure out how to achieve a simple outcome, like saving your work in a new format. Instead of turning to the Internet, embedded e-Learning would allow you to find answers within the program itself, often through easy-to-understand content that actually addresses user needs.

There’s a growing trend within embedded e-Learning of short “micro” content, usually in the form of easily digestible video clips that allow a user to learn a particular skill or feature quickly. Rather than an hour-long instructional video that reviews every part of a given problem or a lengthy manual that’s impossible to read in a single sitting, micro e-Learning provides targeted, specific content that solves a particular problem that a user needs to understand and overcome right away.

While there’s always room for longer, more in-depth e-Learning content such as instructional courses, webinars, and interactive guides, micro e-Learning solves a common issue: users need a solution to a particular problem quickly. But it has other advantages, as well, including:

Micro e-Learning content can be produced faster than longer content.

Because the content is shorter, micro e-Learning materials can be created faster than longer, in-depth e-Learning programs like complete courses. A faster turnaround also means a lower cost of production and a quicker release time for your users. While creating a standalone e-Learning course could take months, your team can release much shorter micro content on a quicker timetable to meet user demands.

Micro e-Learning content can be easily updated as systems change.

If your e-Learning content is helping users understand new technology, use a new product or service, or learn skills on a software or hardware platform, it’s imperative that your content must be easy to keep updated as technology improves and changes. Luckily, since micro content requires fewer resources, less employee time, and a lower budget to produce than longer content, it’s much more cost-effective to update your micro content as systems change and user needs evolve.

Micro e-Learning content can lead to deeper user engagement.

Research has proven that users rarely read long copy on the web. Instead, they skim the words, searching for sections that are relevant to them. At the same time, users often abandon videos with run times longer than 5 minutes, only consuming longer content when they have dedicated periods of time where they won’t be disturbed. As a result, shorter content that communicates its message quickly and concisely often leads to deeper user engagement than longer content which requires a longer period of concentration to absorb. Thus micro e-Learning content can lead to deeper user engagement (such as a user watching a series of videos in a row) than longer content in a single sitting.

While micro e-Learning isn’t the perfect fit for every type of learning situation, it’s handy for users who need quick answers to frequent challenges or occurrences that pop up throughout their workflow. And since it’s easy to digest and relatively easy to produce, we predict we’ll continue to see micro content at the forefront of e-Learning for some time to come.

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