Small Content is Flexible Content

From the Blog Series: How to Create Content for the Modern Learner

In this series, guest blogger Cristine Lipscomb provides actionable advice on how to make this shift to modern learning content.

Blog #4: Small Content is Flexible Content

CRISTINE LIPSCOMBManaging learning content for todays learners is a challenge for most L&D organizations because it means they have to actuallythink about learning content differently.

What is Small Content?

Bite-sized chunks are small blocks of content that can stand alone for targeted learning, or can be combined with other blocks to expand the learning experience.

Why You Need Small Content

According to Training Industry the growing preference of learners for carefully targeted nuggets of information enables training departments to repurpose existing content in new and innovative ways that actually increase learning.

Learners Find What They Need, When and Where They Need It

Learners are looking for dynamic ways to access learning anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Traditional eLearning courses are not searchable at a granular level, which prevents learners from accessing the nuggets they need at the time of need. When content authors liberate content from the confines of traditional eLearning courses, they can create flexible content that can be tagged at a granular level and distributed on any device.

Content Authors Save Time and Speed Delivery

When content is created in small chunks, content authors can more easily search a content library for existing content, rapidly assemble small content chunks into new forms, and then publish the assembled content to HTML, SCORM, PDF, Word, PowerPoint, etcetera. The core content chunks are linked to the source, so when a content chunk changes, the content is updated everywhere it is used. Content reuse, rapid assembly and multi-channel publishing can increase time to market by 60-70%.

Who To Involve

  • Learning and Development leader
  • Instructional Designers
  • Content Management System (CMS) Administrators

How to Get Started

Organize content in small chunks, to allow greater flexibility for reuse in a variety of contexts. As you analyze and develop content, determine how to partition content into standalone concepts that are ripe for reuse. The level of granularity, or actual size of the chunks, will vary based on the complexity of the topic and interrelated concepts.

Here is an example of small reusable content, to give you an idea of what bite-sized chunk might look like:


Designing small content for micro-learning and reuse is a skill that your L&D organization may need to develop. Xyleme’s onboarding program can help you develop a content map and strategy, and provide you with training on how to create and maintain bite-sized, modular and reusable content.

What to Avoid

small-content-is-flexible-contentContent crumbs.

While small chunks create greater flexibility, tiny crumbs become cumbersome. The goal is to create efficiency through reuse.

Customer Story

A commercial and industrial insurance company serving clients for nearly 2 centuries, prides itself on taking a client-first approach; educating and engineering solutions for clients that decrease risk and increase loss prevention. Training is at the heart of their services and they understand the strategic nature of their learning content. Recently, they set out to re-engineer their content development processes in order to better align to their new learning strategy; enabling learning to happen in a variety of ways, anytime, anywhere and on any device.

The content team knew that designing for reuse was something they needed to learn. To get started, they set out to:

  1. Identify high-value content for reuse
  2. Learn how to write great explanations with reuse in mind
  3. Utilize Xyleme to gain efficiencies in their content development lifecycle

Identifying content for reuse was straightforward. This companys core product is the insurance policy it sells. Company employees and clientele require varying levels of expertise around the information contained within their policies. This makes starting with content related to their insurance policies high-value and the ideal place to start.

Learning to write content for reuse, however, required some skills development for the Instructional Designers and Subject Matter Experts. They needed to decide upon the granularity of the content chunks, determining how much information needed to be in each bite-sized piece of information. Then they needed to learn how to develop and assemble content in such a way that they could weave a story around the reusable information to provide context for each of the target audiences. They found that a topic, such as a major section of the insurance policy, or a procedure such as how to place an order, was the right size for reuse. The writing style took some practice but in time, they found that their writing became more consistent across the group and explanations were more concise and effective.

Here is an example of a content map, that shows the learning chunks and how they map to particular audiences.


If you would like more information about how to write great explanations, consider this book The Art of Explanation by Lee LeFever.

Got Content Problems?

If your content management challenges feel overwhelming, we can help.

Sign up to receive updates & exclusive content

Contact us

Please fill out the form, and a member of our team will contact you within one business day.
Give us a call at +1 303-872-9872

stay informed!

Sign up to receive monthly updates & exclusive content