What is Microlearning?
Broadly, microlearning refers to micro-perspectives of learning, training and skill development. Microlearning is an approach to learning which deals with relatively small learning units and short-term learning activities. It is a short learning nugget that a learner would usually complete between 2 to 10 minutes to achieve a specific learning objective. These brief learning experiences are designed to meet an extended learning goal such as driving job performance and employee development. We see more requests from our client for this format of learning, so let’s look at some of the reasons you might want to use it …
1) Immediate Learning
Effective microlearning enables employees to quickly close a small skill gap. Not only can they quickly gain the skill, but they can also apply it faster to the workplace. Research shows that learning in bite-sized chunks makes the transfer of learning from the classroom to the desk 17 percent more efficient. I’m not sure how this can be true or proven for all things learning but the point is that it does fit with the trend of shorter focused learning pieces, taken more often. Microlearning creates high impact learning and can result in the better application of that learning on-the-job.
2) People will actually want to take the courses
It is easier for a learner to achieve success from a short learning intervention. Think about how we consume media today in our personal lives. Content on demand, short Youtube videos, and social media content. It takes a lot for someone to sit through a 30-60 minute content piece. Short pieces of training then translate into faster completions, thereby fetching you better completion rates. Results from a survey revealed that over 50% of employees expressed their willingness to use their company’s learning program if the courses are shorter.
3) Learn in an efficient way
Microlearning is a solution that busy workers will appreciate because it is not as disruptive as a day of training. The modern learner has just 24 minutes a week to spend on training and development according to new research by Deloitte. Microlearning modules provide brief, specific knowledge to workers when they need it. Employees can access the module on their mobile devices when they need to solve a problem or complete a task. This aspect of microlearning not just engages learners but also meets their need to get information at the time of need. Microlearning can be taken between meetings or on the shop floor during quiet periods.
4) Attention Spans
It has always been logical to build training courses to suit the behaviour and lifestyle of the learner. If the findings of a study by Microsoft are to be believed, the human attention span is dwindling from 12 to 8 seconds. Therefore creating ‘bite-size’ courses makes perfect sense to catch the attention of the modern learner. Units that last 2-5 minutes can sustain your employee’s attention.
The theory behind microlearning suggests that short, repetitive learning increases long-term comprehension rates. Research has shown that we retain information better when we study in short focused bursts than when we’re forced to sit through hour-long classes. With microlearning, each module focuses on a specific learning objective and short nuggets of information that provide training to employees. This enables them to retain the information for longer.
6) Continually learn throughout your day or week
The rise in microlearning is partially attributed to the growth in smartphone ownership. This is because microlearning nuggets can be easily made available to learners on the device of their choice. Many employees have long commutes to work which can be transformed from dead time to a mobile classroom. The luxury of learning at any time, at any place, and on any device allows learners to choose when they want to learn. Having the option to complete training on personal mobile devices can increase willingness to engage with the learning experience. Microlearning is particularly suited to mobile learning, however, all courses (macro or micro) can be optimised for mobile.
7) Empower Learners Through Self-Management
With microlearning, you can set training up so learners can access it as they require and learning materials can be used for on-the-job support. Allowing learners to self-manage their training by “pulling” information as they need it, rather than “pushing” toward them what you think they require, can build empowerment and shift attitudes toward training.
Is Microlearning for you?
In most cases, microlearning can offer serious benefits that can help your employees and your company. Employees can efficiently learn soft skills, compliance and professional skills at a pace that suits them. However, for building an understanding of broad and complex topics, microlearning may not work too well as a stand-alone. Mixing microlearning elements with more traditional eLearning courses can be a great way to overcome this.
In a world of regular change in the workforce, new technology, and rapidly shrinking attention spans, the design and delivery of online learning must use innovative approaches to keep up. Microlearning can be a great way to maximise learning for employees in a minimum amount of time. If you’re interested in learning more about how microlearning may be suited to your company check out our brief case study here.