Microlearning Webinar

I just attended The Microlearning Transformation: Understand How Behavior Change Really Works webinar presented by Alex Khurgin, Director of Learning at Grovo. This was a particularly timely and interesting topic for me, as I am aiming to create learning programs that are there when the learner needs them, easy to digest and remember (and use!), and able to be applied on the job (sticky learning). This webinar provided another method of creating learning in just this manner.

In this presentation, Alex covered Grovo’s process for designing microlearning. This is my overview of his presentation.


Focus on transformation, not information transfer. When learning works, it changes our brains; it changes who we are as people!

  • We should be aiming to turn people into the kind of people for whom reaching a goal is easy; not making a goal easy to achieve.
  • We should be changing how people think about what they do, which includes changing how someone thinks and changing what they do.
    • To change what people do, you must provide continual support for them to continue to do what they learned.
    • When you change how they think, you’re ensuring they can be flexible in decision-making regarding that topic in the future (vs. needing more training to accommodate novel scenarios).

How to Change Behaviors: Traditional Ways


  • Hope vs. Fear
  • Pain vs. Pleasure
  • Social Acceptance vs. Rejection

A-Ha! Moments – can change behavior, bypassing motivation

  • Make you feel smart
  • Small hacks with maximum impact
  • Help you understand (instead of know)



The third way to change behavior.

Weapons of Mass Instruction – Massive, event-based instruction (lectures, workshops, traditional delivery methods)

  • Cognitively Oppressive
    • Too much information at once
    • Overloads working memory
  • Out of Context
    • Instruction happens so far outside of relevant performance context – not useful
    • No reinforcement afterward with practice (no skill transfer)
  • Information-Based
    • About content
    • Purpose just to transfer facts/knowledge, which ignores room for experience, feedback, failure, reflection, practice

Microlearning is

  • Digestible
    • Designed to minimize excessive cognitive load
    • Working memory = five +/- 2 items
    • Each microlearning event is self-contained, short as possible, covers one topic
  • Provided at the point of need
    • Accessible right when you need it
      • Checklist to review prior to a one-on-one
      • 20 second video on how to extract wins from a quiet worker
  • Action-based, not information-based
    • Creating resources that help the learner perform actions
    • Structure learning programs around real objectives
    • Surround objectives with resources that help people accomplish objectives

Start with a Campaign

Set of daily lessons 2-3 weeks (up to 8 weeks). Helps someone achieve a behavior/inspirational change.


  • Getting into the Manager Mindset
  • Getting to Know your People

Campaigns are marketed: Launch video gets learners excited.

  • Introduces aspirational outcome.
  • Includes a trailer about what’s coming/what to expect.
  • Can also tell people not involved in campaign because everyone will benefit – gets everyone excited and on-board and expecting behavior changes.

Create Objectives of Campaign

You have an aspirational outcome – single, big behavior for campaign…

  • Objectives are actions/sub-behaviors someone would need to perform to indicate that the campaign goal is happening.
  • Completion of objectives = transfer of learning to real world.
  • Must be small enough to to measurable and large enough to be meaningful.
  • Easily interpreted by c-suite. Concrete measurement. Not subjective.

Getting to know your people = meaningful, but not small enough to be measurable.

Meaningful and measurable objectives to meet campaign objective (can say “Yes” or “No” to each objective):

  • Have weekly one-on-one conversations with all your direct reports = meaningful and measurable.
  • Have a “love and loathe” conversation with all your direct reports = meaningful and measurable.


Develop Learning Resources

Once you have campaign objectives, develop learning resources surrounding each objective using the KESHA model (if you’re not “in” with new-ish music, KESHA is a contemporary artist).

  • Knowledge
  • Environment
  • Skills
  • Habits
  • Attitudes

If the objective is for managers to have one-on-ones weekly, you need to develop learning resources for each of these:

  • Knowledge
    • Weekly
    • Longer than 45 mins (prob an hour)
    • Rough flow (start with wins, move to frustrations, projects, feedback)
    • Happen in certain place
    • Schedule it this way, etc.
  • Environment
    • May need a Google calendar to schedule
    • Manager must have time available consistently
    • Make available a performance report
    • Make available a checklist for time of need (when the manager is ready to conduct the one-on-one)
  • Skills
    • How to get someone to think positively/talk progress vs frustration
    • A few scenarios spaced out over time
  • Habits
    • 1 on 1 useless unless done regularly
    • Reminders
  • Attitude
    • For the continued psychological safety of each of your reports.
    • They have an hour of your time each week…not gonna bother you throughout week…not ad hoc because that can be invasive
    • Provide attitude WIIFM at beginning – here’s why important

Daily Lessons (5-10 Minutes)

Focus on objectives in daily 5-10 minute lessons.

Daily lessons:

  • Emphasize experience of learning/making progress everyday
  • Practice, reinforce, reference

How Objectives are arranged into lessons

  • Start with A-ha! lesson
    • Have right attitude
    • Initial knowledge
  • Elaboration
    • Examples
    • Counterexamples
  • How to
    • Concretely showing how to do
  • Guided Practice
    • Start practicing with some guided scenarios
  • Practice (Lessons 5, 6, 7)
    • Try scenarios
    • Use performance support to try new skills in variety of situations

Natural spacing/flow of lessons:

  • Introduction
  • Review previous lesson
  • Give current lesson
  • Preview next lesson

Everything the learner gets is seen three times.  This gives the learner time to sleep in between and consolidate memories.

Each lesson ends with cue card:

  • Small action.
  • Takes less than 2 minutes to do.
  • Feels like a win.
  • Reinforces learning.
  • Transfers lesson to real-world immediately after.
  • Cue (trigger) – behavior – reward = value to learner in the learning experience.
  • Example: E-mail one of your reports right now. Praise/recognize them for something they did last week.

Stories Supercharge Your Campaigns

Stories help us remember things better. Our brains react differently to stories than just “information.” We understand them better.

Use stories at beginning of campaign to tell what’s going on in the campaign.

“I used to be a terrible manager…but one thing I learned is that…management is a skill just like any other thing…there’s a set of things great managers embody that enables success are: modeling growth mindset strategies, using motivation strategies, and as people are growing and are motivated, knowing how to talk to them and give feedback along the way…”

Helps engage people; bring them in; help them connect/relate.

Feature role models in your organization. Tell their stories. Allow them to contribute as an example (or non-example). This helps people see role models everywhere.

  • A role model is someone that excels at a particular behavior, not someone who is perfect at everything.
  • Focus in on the behavior when looking for role models.
  • Natural social learning will happen when you know someone in your org is good at a particular behavior – you can seek them out for guidance/insight on that specific behavior.

Microlearning Boosters

Fold motivation/A-ha! moments into microlearning:

We give learners objectives to accomplish and this, when done well, will increase their interest/engagement, but this only gets you so far…s

In order to truly engage and create effective learner, we need to be there with campaigns at the moment people are MOST motivated – when they NEED and are LOOKING FOR resources and are willing to change behaviors:

  • When they start new job,
  • become a manager,
  • interview a candidate for the first time,
  • give their first presentation, etc.

When they need to learn something, they are already motivated and vulnerable, and are willing to change a bunch of behaviors at once. This is a very clever motivation hack.

Additionally, be mindful of a-ha! moments. These should be at the center of instructional content.

  • Identify one most interesting perspective on a topic. Tell a story on it. Have an expert passionately explain it.
  • Surprise learners with unusual scenarios.
  • Create tension.
  • Create puzzles and conundrums
  • Have experts give a different perspective
  • Tell stories that may not relate at first, then A-ha! that’s the connection.

New mindset

Microlearning can help create a new mindset for your learners:

  • Gives learners a growth mindset:
    • A framework/way of thinking about topic
  • Gives learners confidence in their incremental progress toward objectives that make up big aspirational goal
  • Provides learners a mindset about learning itself
    • Provides metacognitive skills
    • Lets them be aware that there’s a way they’re learning
    • Allows them to model better learning strategies, become a better learner


CEU credits: HRCI: 285666 SHRM: 17-QT5KL


Developing an Education and Training Plan: Environmental Influences

As I was developing the Education and Training plan for the National Glass Association, I was researching the environment in which we exist. I found many factors that could influence or have an effect on our curriculum and our courses.

EPA Compliance

One major concern for our members is compliance with a relatively new EPA ruling on the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program. Essentially, I found that the EPA was certifying training providers to create and administer courses on the LRRP program. This was out of scope of what we could do with the resources we had, but it is something that could potentially be a big seller for the NGA and further its credibility and relevance as the knowledge hub for the flat glass industry. This curriculum, if developed and approved by the EPA, could also be a major source of income for the association and could generate even more memberships from the learner population.

Other Partnerships

There are many other glass-related trade associations and I found myself wondering how our association tied in with them. I was happy to hear that it was our CEO’s goal to foster relationships with those associations and partner with them on education and training projects, even though the process would likely be time consuming and politically sensitive. Other associations are more focused on technical issues relating to glass and our association was (is) in a good position to be the knowledge hub, with the support and technical expertise of the other associations.

I also researched the American Institute of Architects because they had a pretty robust education and training program and found that we could become an “AIA CES Registered Provider,” which I thought, similar to if we’d developed the LRRP program, would be a major source of networking and marketing and could improve the revenues generated by the education and training program.

Finally, I also wanted to partner with association members who already had robust training programs in-house as a potential source of content and materials. Thus far, we are working on partnering with the Australians, but I think there are other potential partnerships that could be mutually beneficial.


Developing an Education and Training Plan: Planning for Evaluation to Prove Your Worth

In planning how to evaluate the success of our program, I considered the association’s training goals and business outcome as well as the industry’s training goals and business outcomes.

Association Training Goal

To meet the knowledge and skill gap identified by our members.

How to evaluate:

  • Survey members now to find where the knowledge/skills gap is using an Annual Training Survey to provide year-by-year comparisons.
  • Develop courses based on that gap.
  • Survey annually to check progress.
  • E-mail Kirkpatrcik Level 3 surveys to learners’ supervisors a month after they complete a course to check whether the course changed the learner’s behavior.

Association Business Outcome

To increase membership and increase the use of MyGlassClass (and, in turn, increase Association revenue).

One-year goal: Max out the current LMS capability of 2,500 active users.

How to evaluate (Kirkpatrick Level 4 Return on Investment):

  • Compare membership numbers now to membership numbers a year from now.
  • Compare number of MGC users now (327 active users) to MGC users a year from now.
  • Compare percentage of members who use MGC now to percentage a year from now.

Industry Training Goal

To quickly on-ramp new employees, provide continuing education for seasoned employees, and to maintain training records for all employees.

How to evaluate:

  • Survey members now to find where the knowledge/skills gap is (for new and seasoned employees) via the Annual Training Survey.
  • Survey members now to find out how long it takes to on-ramp a new employee and how organizations record and manage training.
  • Develop courses based on that gap.
  • Survey annually to check progress.
  • E-mail Kirkpatrcik Level 3 surveys to learners’ supervisors a month after they complete a course to check whether the course changed the learner’s behavior.

Industry Expected Business Outcomes

These are Kirkpatrick Level 4 evaulation methods to see if our courses met their intended business results.

  • Decrease the amount of time it takes for a new employee to be ready to work.
    • How to evaluate: Survey members now and in a year to find out how long it takes to on-ramp a new employee.
  • Increase revenues through improved sales techniques.
    • How to evaluate: Compare revenues in organizations who use or begin using MGC now to revenues for those organizations in a year.
  • Improve project management skills for PMs to result in more projects on time and on budget.
    • How to evaluate: Compare project statistics in organizations who use or begin to use MGC now to statistics for those organizations in a year.

Project Management for Course Development

I’ve taken my fair share of project management courses (a-la PMP) at The Graduate School in Washington, D.C., but I never pursued a PMP certificate. While the concept of project management as outlined in the PMP program makes project management seem pretty objective and almost scientific, managing instructional design projects is, go figure, a little more “wishy washy.” What I’ve found is that it’s critical that you have a project plan for designing performance improvement activities and that you ensure the client and all stakeholders understand the plan and their involvement in it. Here’s the plan I created based on the Successive Approximation Model for the National Glass Association.

  1. Based on Curriculum Plan, client provides initial proposed course objectives (to be refined as part of the instructional design process) and any existing content and research opportunities on course topic.
  2. Send Backgrounding Questionnaire to stakeholders/Subject Matter Enthusiasts request responses in a week.
  3. After Backgrounding Questionnaire deadline, provide updated course learning objectives to appropriate stakeholders/SMEs. Meet with stakeholders/SMEs via teleconference to discuss and approve learning objectives within three days of initial draft of learning objectives is provided.
  4. Begin to develop the CCAF Matrix (or other course design products) for each of the Learning Objectives (3 days). Request additional information or clarification using a Content Gathering Document sent to the SMEs involved on the project. They will have two days to respond. Use SME responses to fully flesh out the matrix (or other course design products (2 days).
  5. Use the matrix (or other course design products) to write the content for one of the interactions (1 day) and get feedback from the SME group (which should include a recent learner or two). SME group review – probably via teleconference – should answer the following:
    1. Is it accurate?
    2. Is the language/tone/voice appropriate?
    3. Will the style resonate with the intended learner audience?
    4. Is it too verbose or too technical?
    5. Is it too conversational?
  6. Once the first interaction is fully fleshed out, write the content for the rest of the interactions and the transitions of the course. (May take a week.) SME group will review/provide feedback (3 days).
  7. Storyboard the course. Once stakeholders approve storyboard, send to developers.
  8. Send prototype to the SME group for review. They will respond to the User Review Questionnaire. This group should include a few more actual learners. They will have three days to provide their feedback.
  9. Send updates to developer. Within three to four days, course is updated and complete!



LMS Upgrade – All the Bells and Whistles

As you might recall from my previous blog post, Choosing a new Learning Management System, I researched LMSes and chose Absorb for the National Glass Association.

In this blog post, I’d like to show you the stark contrast between our previous LMS, The LMS Which Shall Not Be Named, and Absorb – from both a learner standpoint and an administrator standpoint.

This is the previous LMS’s home page and course catalog from a learner’s perspective, and the admin tab from an administrator’s perspective.

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Although we haven’t yet customized the skin or our learner experience, here is what Absorb looks like:

Home Screen: Learner Perspective

Absorb Home Screen - Learner

The long billboard on top is part of Absorb’s Mercury Module, which allows you to target different photos and/or videos to different learners based on any attribute in their profile.

We plan to use the Resources section to house our  Knowledge Management content, including articles, videos, etc. This will be a “Members Only” benefit.

The Latest News will show the latest news from Glass Magazine.

The Poll section may be replaced by advertising, but it is a neat feature to solicit feedback from learners.

The Contests section may also be replace by advertising, but it is a way to encourage learners to compete with each other and complete courses. Contests (gamification) have been proven to increase course completion rates.

The Tweets section is fed by our Glass Build America Twitter feed.

Catalog: Learner Perspective

Absorb Catalog

Much more user-friendly, the catalog can be organized into categories (I have created categories of Contract Glazier, Glass Processing, Intro to the Glazing Trade, Legacy Courses, and Safety in our initial planning). In this example, I’ve also created a Curriculum, which you can see in more detail here:

Curriculum: Learner Perspective

Manual Glass Handling Curriculum

There are several courses in this curriculum (specifically the ones under Safety Considerations) that will be prerequisites for other courses, as well. Once a learner has completed a course once, they will not have to complete it again in other curriculum courses. Another feature we’re using is Terms and Conditions. You can see the button to review Terms and Conditions on the left. Previously, every course started with a Terms and Conditions slide. Now, it is a box that the learner must check when he or she starts a course. We also added Comments as a means of encouraging learner interaction with the instructor/Course Director and with peers who are also taking the course.

There are many options for what a course consists of, as shown:

Learning Object Options: Admin Perspective

Learning Objects

There are so many other features in Absorb, but I can’t possibly show them all to you. What I would like to say is that, especially for someone with limited LMS experience and limited time to dedicate to uploading and managing courses in the LMS, Absorb is very intuitive and easy to use. It is also very robust and powerful. It is going to be a great asset to our organization.

Choosing a New Learning Management System – Lessons Learned

Reviewing our current LMS and deciding if we needed a new one (and if so, which one?) was one of the first tasks I tackled in my position at the National Glass Association.

Did we need a new LMS?

Heck yeah. Our previous LMS was database-centric, which made it not very user-friendly for our learners OR for me, as the LMS administrator. It was not very intuitive or aesthetically pleasing. The reports that could be run were very limited and did not provide many insights. Uploading courses was cumbersome. Adding surveys to courses, allowing supervisors to view learner progress, requiring prerequisites or recommending courses based on learner attributes – daunting, if not impossible.

So I did some research to find a new LMS. Mind you, I’m not an LMS expert, but stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night 🙂 and I’ve used LMSes in the past (specifically Blackboard) and I know what the potential is and almost anything would be a step up from what we were using.

How did I choose LMSes to evaluate?

I used two sources for LMSes to evaluate: Capterra and PCMag.com. Capterra essentially reviews your requirements and puts you in contact with providers who can meet your needs within your budget.

What LMS did we choose?


What criteria did I use to evaluate them?

  • E-Commerce
  • Single Sign On (with future AMS)
  • SCORM/Tin Can Course Hosting
  • Discussion Forums in Courses
  • Survey Functionality (or the ability to embed a Survey Monkey survey in a course)
  • Task Completion Tracking
  • Allows Supervisor/Trainer Oversight into Learner’s Transcript
  • Quiz/Test Authoring
  • Webinar Sales and Hosting (via Zoom)

Vendor Comparison

Absorb (from PCMag.com rankings)

Offers all required functionality out of the box. User-friendly for learners and admins. Excellent support even in the demo phase. Within budget. Learners have lifetime access for one-time user fee. Most secure LMS on market.

Only vendor that is Certified as “Smartchoice Best in Class LMS Vendor” from respected research firm Brandon Hall Group. Also recommend by Gartner, Forrester and Bersin by Deloitte.

  • $18,000/year ($1675/month) / One-time, $5 fee per new user
  • $4,000 setup fee
  • Possible one-time fees for:
  • Historical Data Import $1,750
  • Offers API to exchange data with AMS
  • $3,500 for scheduled data file export or import OR
  • $4,000 one-time fee for RESTful API (real-time integration)

Litmos (from PCMag.com rankings)

Offers all required functionality out of the box. User-friendly for learners and admins. Within budget (least expensive solution).

  • $8,388/year for up to 500 active users
  • $13,000/year for up to 1,000 active users
  • No setup fee
  • Possible fee for importing historical data

TOPYX (Capterra recommendation)

Offers all required functionality out of the box. Extremely versatile and robust, but not intimidating or difficult to use. Excellent support. Too expensive. VERY cluttered learner interface. Poor design.

  • $24,750/year non-profit price
  • Unlimited users / unlimited content

BlackBoard (from my previous experience and from PCMag.com rankings)

Offers all required functionality out of the box. Extremely versatile and robust, but not intimidating or difficult to use. Excellent support. Too expensive.

  • $20k to $25k for BlackBoard (MoodleRooms)
  • $15k extra if we want their online collaboration tool (BlackBoard Collaborate)

Aptify (Association was looking at their AMS, so I researched their LMS)

Does not offer all required functionality out of the box. Not user friendly for learners or admins (configuration is very similar to current LMS – database-like). LMS is clearly not the primary business of this company (seems like square peg/round hole). Too expensive.

  • $25,000 for Education Module
  • •$30,000 for LMS

My Custom Event (Capterra recommendation)

Does not offer all required functionality out of the box. Not user friendly for learners or admins (configuration is very similar to current LMS – database-like). LMS is clearly not the primary business of this company.

  • $155/user/month (2 user minimum) includes
    • 250 active learners
    • 1.95% per transaction fee
  • $275/user/month (3 user minimum) includes
    • 500+ active learners
    • 0% per transaction fee

Digital Ignite / YM (Current LMS)

Does not offer all required functionality out of the box. Not user friendly for learners or admins (configuration is very similar to current LMS – database-like). LMS is clearly not the primary business of this company.

  • $18,759 setup fee
  • $1500/month for 2,500 active users