How to Create a Micro Learning App in Under an Hour

How to Create a Micro Learning App in Under an Hour

By Dennis Glenn

When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves” – Viktor E. Frankl

These are trying times for educators throughout the world. Schools are closed. Classes must be virtual. It is more difficult to evaluate the success of your learning objectives with the limitations brought on by virtual interactions.  In a recent MIT Sloan Management Review article on Disruptive Innovation, Michael Horn highlighted the current issues most companies are facing. “Employers are confronting sizable skills gaps in all parts of their operations, at all levels, and they can’t seem to fill them by simply hiring new people…In the face of rapid technological changes like automation and artificial intelligence, helping employees keep pace is challenging.” [1]

As educators we cannot change the current situation, but we now must recognize there are methodologies that can ameliorate the disruptions delivered by this world crisis.  Clayton Christensen’s defined innovation disruptions as: “not breakthrough innovations or “ambitious upstarts” that dramatically alter how business is done but, rather, consist of products and services that are simple, accessible, and affordable.”[2]  Microlearning apps apply described by Robert Twigger as “learn small, learn fast, and unlock your potential to achieve anything.” [3]

We are hired to master a task or as Christensen stated: “People don’t simply buy products or services; they pull them into their lives to make progress. We call this progress the “job” they are trying to get done.”[4] We can no longer just recall information. We must demonstrate our mastery of the job to be done. Compliance training that is mandated by legislation, regulation or industry policies is many times compared to certification where the training is evaluated against defined standards by a third party. What microlearning apps do is provide a service that is “simple, accessible, and affordable.” In my upcoming workshops at the Serious Play Conference[5] and the Distance and Learning

Conference,[1] I will provide tools that let every educator no matter their level of technology prowess, create interactive learning and assessment apps easily and quickly. 

The key benefit of creating these apps is the continuous feedback the user receives on their path to mastery. There is no time limit on the learning curve on their progress. Even though the user might not successfully complete learning objectives, there is no organizational pressure to complete the learning in a number of “tries.” The number of efforts does not have to be reported to the LMS. Additionally, the learner can purposely fail the app just to find what the other critical learning issues can be ascertained.

In the workshop, I have selected three software solutions that meet Christensen’s criteria: simple to use, accessible in the cloud, and relatively affordable. In addition, I present the Business Model Canvas[2] as a planning and organizational methodology to share the development process with your team. As a disclaimer, I have no financial incentives with any of the tools I am presenting in these workshops.

Step One- The Job to be Done


The Business Model Canvas[1] enables your team to focus on the “job to be done.” Let’s focus on some of the sections of the canvas. Most experts in creating new ventures site exploring data to determine what customer segment your product to serve or ignore, usually based on customer needs. As educators our customers are presented to us by the course of study they have selected. This is where the


Value Proposition section is a natural starting point to prepare your learning module. As you see in the Image 2, I have highlighted the various tasks to assist in your planning session.

Key Attributes to App Development

The best way to validate that a problem exists is to actually insert yourself into the process and learn by doing.”[1]

Rapid prototyping is one of the best ways to validate the solution to the job to be done. Justin Reich, the Executive Director of the Teaching Systems Lab at MIT offered his use of prototyping. “We start by listening closely to practicing educators to understand their challenges. And then we rapidly develop prototypes of solutions to those challenges. We test those prototypes with our colleagues and with educators. And after each test, we refine our prototypes and improve them. Through these iterative cycles of prototyping, testing, reflecting, and evaluating, we improve and expand the learning experiences that we create for educators.”[1]

One of the best tools to create rapid prototypes of interactive learning and assessment apps is Articulate Rise. In the workshop, I demonstrate how to create an interactive learning app in about 20 minutes using Rise. See: https://www.edchatinteractive.org/archives The beauty of this tool is that as soon as you have a quick prototype created, it can be shared and reviewed within the Rise platform to your team or students.

I also use two additional toolsets that enable the “shifting from “instructional design” to “experience design” and using design thinking.”[1] 

The second tool to be explored is Sketchfab, the largest platform to publish and find 3D models online. The company claims to have built the world’s most universal 3D and VR player on the web and has the ability to publish 3D content online. In this section of the workshop we will create an interactive microlearning app using 3D models from the Sketchfab collection.


Sketchfab 3D Model

Last January, Tim Cook of Apple stated:  “I’m excited about AR, my view is it’s the next big thing, and it will pervade our entire lives.”[1] Gardner Research recently published: “through 2028, the user experience will undergo a significant shift in how users perceive the digital world and how they interact with it…Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) are changing the way in which people perceive the digital world. This combined shift in both perception and interaction models leads to the future multisensory and multimodal experience.”[2]

Creating microlearning apps in 3D and AR environments enable multisensory learning opportunities that enhances transfer to long-term memory and promotes higher engagement with the material. “At the end of 2019 over 2.2 Billion people had devices that are AR enabled to engage learning in 3D depth.”[1]  We now have the ability using these apps to feel, perceive or experience subjectively.

The third tool I use is Zappar. The app is used as the link to access augmented reality content. “AR can be defined as a system that fulfills three basic features: a combination of real and

virtual worlds, real-time interaction, and accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects…The primary value of augmented reality is the manner in which components of the digital world blend into a person’s perception of the real world, not as a simple display of data, but through the integration of immersive sensations, which are perceived as natural parts of an environment. ”[1] And all this on your smartphone or tablet. Your interactive learning apps are with you with the appropriate timely feedback.

AR App Created with Zapper Widget

I have outlined how any subject matter expert can quickly create and distribute interactive multisensory learning and assessment apps to their appropriate audience. This past January the World Economic Forum launched the Reskilling Revolution, a platform to transform the education, skills and jobs for over one billion people in this current decade so that their careers will be protected against the elimination of millions of jobs due to technological change. In the platform directives they state: “almost half of the core skills required across all roles will change and a positive outcome will require skills that are neither currently common in the workforce, nor likely to be available in the near future through current educational systems and workplace practices.”[1]


A recent MIT Sloan report on the Future of Work stated: “rapid technological change has rendered skill cycles shorter than ever; key competencies of even a decade ago are passé today,

and most of tomorrow’s jobs remain unknown.”[1] The value of creating microlearning apps that engage the learner in short, interactive, and timely skill development will add to the macro learning environments already in place. The hands-on workshop will enable the creation of microlearning apps in less than an hour. Once you have the template completed additional apps take just a few minutes.

I look forward to meeting you at the Serious Play Conference at Central Florida University and Distance and Learning Conference at the University of Wisconsin.


About the author:

Dennis Glenn, MFA

Dennis Glenn is an Adjunct Professor, DePaul University Graduate School for Continuing and Professional Studies and President, Dennis Glenn LLC.

His company creates 3D interactive virtual patients for the medical industry that assess the cognitive decision-making abilities of surgeons, doctors and nurses. Dennis has taught at Northwestern University, Columbia College, Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and DePaul’s Graduate School for Continuing and Professional Studies where he currently teaches two courses; Mastery Learning Using Serious Games and Enabling Social Media for Learning and Assessment.

sources:

[1] Michael B. Horn, Education, Disrupted, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Sloan Management Review) March 10, 2020. https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/education-disrupted/?use_credit=7d162bc88c4f6b3d9d859264bd0ce595

[2] Karen Dillon, Disruption 2020: An Interview with Clayton M. Christensen,(Cambridge, MA: MIT Sloan Management Review) March 10, 2020.       https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/an-interview-with-clayton-m-christensen/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Read%20the%20interview%20now%20%C2%BB&utm_campaign=Enews%20GEN%202/4/2020

[3] Robert Twigger, Micromastery: Learn Small, Learn Fast, and Unlock Your Potential to Achieve Anything, (Penguin Random House LLC), 2018          https://www.penguinrandomhouseaudio.com/book/552734/micromastery/?ref=PRH28100532E1

[4] Clayton Christensen, Jobs to Be Done, (Boston, MA. The Clayton Christensen Institute), 2020.
https://www.christenseninstitute.org/jobs-to-be-done/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIlda_3Jy76AIVCY6zCh3O_AzmEAAYAiAAEgKnWvD_BwE

[5] https://seriousplayconf.com/

[6] https://dtlconference.wisc.edu/

[7] Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur, Business Model Generation A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, (Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley & Sons, Inc), 2010 https://profesores.virtual.uniandes.edu.co/~isis1404/dokuwiki/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=bibliografia:9_business_model_generation.pdf [1]

[8] https://canvanizer.com/new/business-model-canvas

[9] Julia B. Austin, How Entrepreneurs Can Find the Right Problem to Solve, (Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review) February 2020.          https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/how-entrepreneurs-can-find-the-right-problem-to-solve?cid=spmailing-31559353-WK%20Newsletter%2002-19-2020%20(1)%20B-February%2019,%202020

[10] Justin Reich, Design Thinking for Leading and Learning, (Cambridge, MA: MITx: 11.155x) 2020
 https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:MITx+11.155x+1T2019/courseware/19660aa0750e45f293b53ae9de082cc6/ec999366388a4466b3bbeba6b6ccf5e5/?child=first

[11] Josh Bersin, The Disruption of Digital Learning: Ten Things We Have Learned, ( Josh Bersin Academy), 2020. 
    https://joshbersin.com/2017/03/the-disruption-of-digital-learning-ten-things-we-have-learned/

[12] Elaine Burke, Tim Cook: ‘AR will pervade our entire lives’, (Siliconrepublic.com) January, 2020.
https://www.siliconrepublic.com/machines/tim-cook-ar-war-ducks-healthtech

[13] David Cearley, Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020, (businesswire.com) October 2019.       https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191021005726/en/Gartner-Identifies-Top-10-Strategic-Technology-Trends

[14] Julie Smithson, Changing the way we Teach & Learn using VR & AR for Education, (Medium.com) May 2019. https://arvrjourney.com/changing-the-way-we-teach-learn-using-vr-ar-for-education-48fd2a76afbf

[15]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality#cite_note-2

[16] Oliver Cann, The Reskilling Revolution: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Education for a Billion People by 2030, (The World Economic Forum) January 2020. https://www.weforum.org/projects/reskilling-revolution-platform

[17]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality#cite_note-2





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