Building scalable microlearning journeys: 5 top takeaways (Ep12)

How do you manage vast microlearning libraries? And deliver microlearning journeys that have a genuine transformational impact? In episode 12 we look at the lessons learned from developing thousands of digital learning products with Treion Muller. Including localization challenges and how to overcome them, plus some tips for moving from classroom to online. Read on for our top 5 takeaways.

Treion Muller scalable microlearning journey

About Treion Muller

Treion is Chief Product Officer at Strategy Execution. Before that, he was at TwentyEighty, a portfolio of some of the most respected learning development and performance improvement brands in the industry. Prior to that, he was at Franklin Covey. Strategy Execution contributes to the L&D world by providing top-tier solutions in project program portfolio management, agile business analysis, and business skills.

Hear what Treion had to say on the Learning at Large Podcast

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Here are 5 top takeaways:

1. Chief Product Officers across all industries participate in a supply and demand chain, a principle that also applies to CLOs creating training.

“The interesting thing is a chief product officer, regardless of industry, does the same thing. You listen to what the clients are wanting, you do the client sensing and feedback to determine what people want in a certain space, and then you build the products you are best suited to build. It’s supply and demand, right? People demand something, and you make sure you supply it in the best way possible – better than other people. That goes from anything like a smartphone to training – it’s the same principles. The lifeblood of any company is to make sure you understand the needs of the customer or potential customer.”

“We do a lot of market research and client sensing to determine what is that they want from a solution when it comes to project-driven work. Then, we build the right products – whether it’s in-person, whether it’s online, whether it’s digital, subscription, or one-time. We build the products that people want.”

2. Follow up microlearning with little automated nudges – a digital coach or consultant – that encourage learners to apply what they learned or utilize new skills.

“Let’s say you take an elearning course. We don’t want it to be “one and done.” So what we do is trigger – the digital coaches are taking effect. Which means you then get notifications through the system saying, “Okay, you learned this principle – have you applied it this week?” or, “Remember this concept you learned? Click here to get the microlearning, the 5-minute summary, if you want to remember what it was.” Or, “You remember this tool that you are supposed to apply and use? Have you used it? Here it is again.”

“So, we’re doing this in a very functional way so that it’s not just cheese and fluff; it’s actually applicable nudges. Yes, there are a lot of prescriptive options. Again, what we don’t want to do is build a platform and then throw a bunch of stuff on it. Even if you don’t have an implementation consultant, though, the way we’ve build the dashboard – they use a dashboard. It shows you what you can do, and the filters on the left and the searchable options of the left. It’s very easy to navigate yourself, but it’s even better if you have contact with a client consultant, which says, “Here is the journey that I recommend you guys go on.” And you just click on this button, and it starts it out for you. It comes with its own notifications and reminders.”

3. Link microlearning modules by creating “journeys” for people to go on with the objective of learning a new skill or concept.

“We also have prescribed transformation journeys. These are expertly designed transformation journeys that take you from here to there. So, it’s saying, “If you want to achieve this, here’s a journey that you need to go on” – or that you can put your people on. It takes time, because we believe – and I’m a strong believer in this. In all my writing and research, I show that people learn best over time. So, spaced learning, through bite-sized learning. They need time to apply and practice in-between.”

“I use this example in my most recent ebook: People don’t become a professional guitarist after the first lesson. It takes time and practice in-between. It takes lessons once or twice a week, and then you’ve got to practice in-between. You don’t become an expert tennis player after one lesson. Yet in the learning and development industry, we have positioned ourselves to come to this leadership or this project management training in 3 days and you’ll be an expert. That’s bull. You cannot become an expert – everything has a forgetting curve. People forget 90-plus percent after a certain time frame.” 

“So, we built these transformation journeys so people can do it over time. If you put them in a room for three days, not only is it away from work, but they’ve forgotten everything. We still do this, by the way – but we don’t just do that. If we do a three-day training, we don’t just say, “That’s it.” We say, “Hey, if you really want to benefit from this, join our Hub membership, and now you have access to jobs to be done related to what you’ve learned.” So in the moment you need a question answered, you go to the Hub and search for an answer and you get it.”

4. Center learning around actions or “jobs to be done,” so users can ask specific questions and receive specific instructions within a microlearning framework.

“Just recently, Clayton Christenson et. al. wrote a book called Competing Against Luck, in which he outlines what jobs-to-be-done theory is. He happened to be on the board at Franklin Covey when I worked there – I was there for eleven years. So, we used this terminology and these principles throughout the time and I love it. The concept of jobs to be done is people are not buying…when they go to a hardware store, people are not looking for a drill. They’re looking for a quarter-inch hole. That’s the job they want done. They don’t want the drill – they wouldn’t buy a drill unless they needed that hole.”

“So, we have to determine what is it that people want? What’s the progress they’re trying to make? I look outside of the learning and development industry, which tends to not be very innovative. So, I look outside the industry to see consumer behavior. The consumer and the learner are one in the same person.”

5. Avoid transferring in-person training to a digital platform word-for-word; instead, focus on how learners will learn this topic without in-person interaction.

“Let’s say you have training and you want to put it on a virtual webinar setting, a virtual classroom. You take the exact same stuff and drop it onto a webinar platform and you talk to your slides. That’s one of the worst things you can do.” 

“The same thing with elearning. If you just decide, “Oh, we did it like this in the classroom, let’s just try and do the same thing” – they call it elearning, but all we have is audio over a Powerpoint. That’s the worst thing you can do. You have to reinvent how you go digital; you have to realize it’s a different modality that requires a different approach. It needs to be shorter, it needs to be more succinct. It has different activities or behaviors that you need to employ, because you obviously can’t have a group discussion in an elearning course. So, you have to find other ways to enforce what it is you’re trying to enforce or for people to practice.”

“This is a complex process; however, it’s not as complex or difficult as you think.” 

Treion’s book recommendations

Competing Against Luck, Clayton Christenson 

“It gives you great insight into this job theory…I think that is key.”

 They Ask, You Answer,  Marcus Sheridan

“The title is pretty much the premise of the book, which is you provide people the answers they are looking for… People want answers to their questions now; they don’t want to wait a month or two from now when that question might be forgotten, gone, no longer relevant and there’s new questions that have arisen.” 

Contact Treion

LinkedIn is where I keep everything updated, including access and links to my free ebooks and writing. It is just “Treion Muller” on LinkedIn.

Join the conversation!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s podcast, so feel free to get in touch on Twitter @learningatlarge with any questions or queries. You can also email me at simon@elucidat.com. As always, don’t forget to subscribe to Learning at Large in your favorite podcast app and leave us a 5-star rating if you enjoyed it. Thank you for joining us, and see you next time.

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