We’ve all been guilty of the “just one more level” rule when playing a video game. It usually happens when playing what should be a quick level of Candy Crush or Plants vs. Zombies and the next thing you know, you’ve been at it for an hour and are now a leading expert on which greenery would work best to protect your home in the case of a zombie apocalypse.

And that’s exactly what game designers want you to do: They know that if they strategically break gameplay into small pieces, and then structure the game so that levels build upon one another, players are more likely to get hooked. Not only do they want to play–they want to play well to gain points and level up.

The same theory could be attached to microlearning. By structuring lessons so that they’re small but super-buildable, learners are free to stack their own learning and create their own learning path. By following a good, better, best approach for microlearning (think the stars you earn after a round of Angry Birds) a micro approach can bring about macro results.

Why Buildable Learning Works

Imagine you’re a server in a restaurant: You’ve been trained during a fast-paced session, but your focus is on being the best in the business. Buildable learning teaches learners not only to meet expectations, but what they can do to excel in their positions. As a server, you’ve experienced microlearning that allows you to read or watch a scenario, and then choose from a few responses. Saying “hi” to a diner when he arrives might garner one star (good), but saying “hi,” and telling him about the specials could be enough to garner three stars (best!) in the simulation.

It’s a good, better, best approach that only works when learners are building upon a foundation of knowledge. By “playing” one microlevel and excelling, they’re motivated to keep going to add to that bank of knowledge. Then, they receive real-time, situational feedback that tells them exactly where they can improve, Angry Birds­-style.

Tips for Buildable Microlearning

While not all subject matter will be as dynamic as your favorite iPhone game, it’s possible to build similar features into a microlearning module to encourage regular access and buildable knowledge.

  • Style lessons as “missions.” Telling a learner to finish a lesson or chapter? It’s not exactly engaging. Styling your microlearning lessons as missions tells the learner that information will be delivered and he’ll have to act on it correctly before completion.
  • Allow learners to play on. Don’t stop the learning. Due to the addictive nature of buildable learning, students may want to continue and turn a string of microlearning into a larger lesson. Ensure that feature is built into the module to encourage that enthusiasm.
  • Recall past chapters. Don’t let your learners forget what they just experienced. Build skills and facts from past chapters into other microlessons going forward. Learners can recall what they’ve already learned and apply that knowledge to completing future “missions.”

Comprehensive scoring and a real-time method for measuring mastery are also important factors when creating buildable microlearning. Ideal for retail, restaurant, and even medical industries, buildable learning helps learners notice the difference between good, better, and best–and even enjoy the path to excellence.