What’s Inside a Seven-Minute Capsule?

What’s Inside a Seven-Minute Capsule?

9 September 2021, by Ngoc Anh Hoang

Is it possible to develop a seven-minute capsule without sacrificing content nor the effectiveness in learning? Some may say no so let’s see how GaneshAID makes this work!

It is no doubt that there are a variety of benefits associated with micro-learning. In essence, its short duration not only allows the integration of learning into daily work but also offers learners the opportunity to absorb and retain the knowledge more easily by making lessons and course activities more manageable and “digestible”. In other words, microlearning reduces the cognitive load as it breaks the complex educational process down into easy-to-understand chunks of knowledge that typically last no more than a few minutes. However, the challenge is how to develop short capsules while still safeguarding the content as well as effective and efficient learning for the users. Now, let’s find out the approach GaneshAID teams build those bite-sized courses while maintaining pedagogical quality.

Coherent and meaningful structure

Creating microlearning does not consist of simply chunking content into short bites.  As a basis, no microlearning is created without a diligent planning and organization of all instructional design tasks.

As an instructional designer, it is essential to organize content at a high level to give it a coherent and meaningful structure. Content must be examined, so to make them more concise and create independent learning capsules that makes up well-structured learning syllabus. A meaningful structure helps learners to comprehend and retain the content they need. Indeed, analyzing the competency framework of the target audience enables to develop microlearning that fits the need of the learners. It is of utmost importance to always develop content that is familiar to the audience and appropriate to their tasks, competencies, and roles. In this manner, the definition of concrete outcome for each microlearning material serves the development of a solid structure. Clean outcomes are the backbone of microlearning and helps to narrow down the content to its essence.

In each project, we structure the capsule according to the 5E Instructional Model (1) Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, and Evaluation, with its three main parts:  Opening, Body and Closing.

  • The Opening stage: sets the learning objectives and poses the real problems that impact the learners’ daily work.
  • The Body stage: presents the content using various interactive learning techniques combined with short quizzes to advance learner’s understanding.
  • The Closing stage: lists out key messages of the capsule and further reading materials for in-depth knowledge and research.

Figure 1. The structure of GaneshAID capsule

Effective and engaging learning techniques

|It’s a fact that people learn more if they are engaged with the course.|(2)

For instance, participating in a scenario or trying a quick challenge will encourage learners to interact directly with the lesson, and enable them to get more out of the experience. Statistically, capsules that incorporate elements of gamification and narration to help solidify or tell a story result in a 15% better understanding as well as a sharp increase in retention of up to 22 times(3).

As instructional designers, we always utilize various techniques to make the content more attractive and digestible for learners. A well-balanced use of different learning techniques within a module brings variety in learning and enhance the learning attention. Learning techniques brings in interactivity that also sustain the attention of the learners. This way, learners are more proactive in learning and this approach is proven to raise learners’ knowledge retention.

Let’s take a look at some learning techniques for capsule development!

Figure 2. Interactive learning techniques

  • Interactive tabs/ menu is about delivering bite-size knowledge into an interactive menu. The learners can access the learning content through the menu. Then the learning content is provided in one or multiple slides.
  • Interactive presentation enables learners to explore freely important pieces of content by clicking on images/ icons. When clicking on each, the learner can go to the detailed content.
  • An interactive conservation is a flow of discussion divided into specific parts reflecting the main components of the learning content. After each part, an interactive action will be given to learner such as: listening to a podcast, answering a question, clicking on an interactive infographic, etc.
  • Interactive scenario provides the knowledge across different situations/ decision making and different perspective. The learner must decide which action to be taken to address challenges.
  • An interactive timeline/process enables learners to explore processes, and important content in context by using icons, timestamp and even infographics. Adding interactivity into the mix can help learners visualize the content without overusing facts, data and text in general.
  • Storytelling is based on a fictitious story which reflects a real situation and is familiar to the learner. This technique creates a more immersive experience that motivates learners and encourages an emotional connection to the topic.
  • Video-based learning uses video as the source for learners to gain new knowledge. Quizz, questions can be integrated within the video or at the end.

Lively illustrations and animated characters

To design a capsule that effectively conveys knowledge while attracting learners, the important role of illustration cannot be underestimated. Beside holding the learners’ attention, illustrations help to elaborate and clarify the meaning of the text, especially abstract information that needs visual representation.

| Research conducted primarily during the 1970s and 1980s supported the assertion that carefully constructed text illustrations generally enhance learners’ performance on a variety of text-dependent cognitive outcomes. |(4)

Understanding such importance, for each project, we define style for illustrations that are consistent with the country’s context and its cultural aspects. For example, the mOPV2 vaccine vial illustration must be similar to its real version, and all characters are developed in respect to the context: professional positions, religious and ethnic aspects, dressing codes and styles, etc. We also pay attention to gender equity in illustrations so that all learners can best relate to the learning content.

Figure 3. Animated characters illustrated for project mOPV2

To summarize, micro-learning is all about small quantities of knowledge that leave a lasting impression upon the learners. As such, it is essential for instructional designers to logically structure the capsule and combine “bite sized” techniques with attractive illustrations to give learners the opportunity to acquire knowledge quickly and efficiently and be able to recall the knowledge for future use.

Any thought on that? Share your point of view with us and your experience in the comment section below!


(1) Empowering Students: The 5E Model Explained, Lesley University

(2) 7 Micro-eLearning Techniques to Improve Performance, Christopher Pappas, eLearning Industry, 2014

(3) eLearning statistics 2020, Carlyn Shaw, EdApp, 2020

(4) Pictorial Illustrations Still Improve Students’ Learning from Text, Russell N. Carney and Joel Levin, Educational Psychology Review, 2002


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