Microlearning has gained traction within the learning and development industry in recent years, as it is an effective and efficient way for people to learn new skills and knowledge in short, digestible bursts.
By breaking content down into small, digestible chunks that focus on one specific topic, microlearning enables learners to receive targeted instruction in a way that is both engaging and efficient.
And while more and more teaching platforms and programs have adopted microlearning, organizations have not yet fully taken advantage of microlearning as a powerful tool to help their employees grow and develop.
This is likely due to the fact that many organizations are unfamiliar with the concept or are unsure of how to effectively incorporate microlearning into their existing learning and development initiatives.
In this article, we'll go through what microlearning is, its benefits, and how you can use it in your organization to drive learning and development.
What is Microlearning?
Microlearning is an educational technique that breaks topics down into short and focused chunks of information. Each “micro-lesson” is typically no longer than 10 minutes - perfect for busy people who don't have the time to sit through a traditional hour-long lecture or course.
Derived from the renowned German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, microlearning theory is based on his 'forgetting curve' studies which demonstrated how much information humans can remember and for how long.
The results of this investigation showed that people tend to forget nearly 79% of what they learn in a month's time. Thus, it has become essential for educators and learners alike to embrace new methods such as microlearning which offer an efficient method of assimilating knowledge without overburdening one's memory capacity.
Microlearning is a quicker, more agile approach to teaching that allows learners to go at their own pace and absorb information without becoming overwhelmed or overstimulated.
Additionally, allowing them access to review these pieces on a regular basis further solidifies their understanding of the subject matter.
Why Invest in Microlearning?
Even though jury is still out on whether the human attention span is shorter now than it was, what is certain is that in today's world, people are exposed to so much information that it can be difficult to focus on one thing for a long period of time.
With our hectic lifestyles and busy schedules, it's often difficult to find time for learning. This is why microlearning has become so popular: it offers learners the opportunity to take in only the amount of material they need when they need it.
Instead of having to schedule a time to go through a long lecture or course, learners can access micro-lessons whenever: between tasks, during breaks, or even while commuting.
The short and focused nature of microlearning also helps to keep learners engaged throughout the process. By quickly covering topics and giving learners small wins that help them feel successful, microlearning makes learning fun and rewarding.
It also enables organizations to quickly adapt their learning programs to the ever-changing needs of their employees.
The Benefits of Microlearning
So in short, these are the benefits of microlearning compared to traditional learning:
Easier to consume – microlearning materials are easier for learners to consume due to their short, focused nature. This makes it easier for them to absorb the content and be able to recall and apply what they have learned.
Increased engagement – microlearning encourages active participation from learners as they can quickly take on a new topic and have the opportunity to review it on a regular basis.
Cost-effective – microlearning is a cost-effective option for organizations as the content can be reused multiple times and delivered quickly.
Increased flexibility – with its smaller chunks of learning, microlearning offers learners the flexibility to access materials when they need them.
More autonomy – Microlearning gives learners the power to customize their learning experience, allowing them to focus on topics they are interested in and take ownership of their learning. It also encourages learners to become self-motivated in their own development by giving them control over what they learn and when.
By allowing learners to access learning materials on their own time and engage with them in an interactive manner, microlearning can help boost knowledge retention, improve learner engagement, and ultimately drive better business outcomes.
How to Use Microlearning in Your Organization
All of this is why microlearning can be an invaluable tool for both employees and organizations, but as it is with all tools: in order to get the most out of it, you need to know how to use it. To ensure the success of your organization's microlearning program, here are a few tips:
1. Big picture content strategy
In order for your microlearning program to be successful, it needs structure. Simply putting out random pieces of content here and there will be useful to a certain extent, but to maximize the impact of your program, you need a content strategy.
This means having a clear goal for what each piece of content is meant to accomplish, how it fits into the larger learning plan, and who the target audience is.
How do you do that?
In three basic steps:
Identify big-picture goals - Before you start teaching anything, you need to identify the overall goal of your microlearning program. Is it to educate employees on a new product? Is it to train them in a specific software application?
Create learning objectives - Once you have identified the big-picture goal, you need to identify the changes that need to happen in order to achieve the goal. These are your learning objectives.
Develop content - Finally, you need to design and develop content that meets the goals and objectives you have set out. You can either create the content yourself or partner with an outside source for expert instruction if needed.
2. Creating the right content
The success of your microlearning initiatives will largely depend on the quality of content you deliver.
While short pieces of content are great for keeping learners engaged, they need to be well thought out, as it's not always easy to convey a lot of information in a small package.
Make sure you consider all of the following when designing your content:
- Is the message clear?
- Does it match the learning objectives you have identified?
- Are there any visuals or multimedia (e.g. videos, animations) that will help convey the message?
- Is there enough information for the learner to understand the concept without being overwhelmed?
- Is the piece useful in itself?
Although your pieces of content are part of a larger strategy, each of them still needs to have its own value and purpose.
It's also important to note that microlearning content can come in many forms: videos, podcasts, quizzes, short articles, interactive games, and more. Don't limit yourself to one type of content - instead, explore different options and see what works best for your specific audience.
3. Delivering the content
Once you have identified your goals, developed learning objectives, and created high-quality content, it's time to deliver it.
This is often the step where organizations fail, because most internal communication channels are not designed to handle microlearning content.
In order to really bring you all the benefits of microlearning, your content needs to be:
- available on demand: no need to schedule or plan around availability
- searchable: so learners can quickly find the content they need
- flexible: it needs to be available wherever and whenever learners need it
So relying on email or chats is not enough - you need a dedicated platform to deliver your microlearning content. Be it an intranet, a dedicated knowledge-sharing platform, or another type of centralized information repository, you need something that will make it easy for learners to access and consume your content.
4. Track and Adjust
Finally, of course, you need to track the results of your program and adjust as needed. This means tracking learner engagement (time spent on each piece, etc.), satisfaction scores, quiz scores, and any other metrics that are relevant to your program.
You can then use this data to understand what types of content work best and adjust as needed. You can also use it to provide feedback on individual learners or groups of learners in order to enhance their learning experience.
Microlearning is a great way to boost employee engagement and learning, but it needs to be planned, developed, and delivered in the right way.
By taking into account all of the factors mentioned above, you can create microlearning content that will meet your goals, engage learners, and ultimately lead to better results for your organization.