Microlearning has gained traction over the last few years and is a hit among both employees and employers alike. COVID has brought significant changes in everyone’s lifestyle, and working from home is the new norm. Working hours are no longer the traditional 9am – 5pm. In fact, most of us work until our bosses stop taunting us with phone calls and emails. Why does this happen? This is because they do not understand the work life balance.
When everyone fights for time, how do employers crunch in learning between all the hustle and bustle?
That’s where our hero, microlearning, comes into place.
Professional development – In today’s fast paced world, people have very little time to spend on learning. This is the reason why microlearning has hit the right note with everyone. With microlearning, time would be the least of your worries. You can master skills and even create behavioral changes with microlearning.
In this article, we explore the benefits of microlearning. We also state how to make the most of microlearning through tried and tested techniques to achieve significant results.
What is Microlearning, and what are its Benefits?
There are multiple definitions for microlearning.
In the book ‘Microlearning – Short and Sweet’, Karl Kapp defines microlearning as “Microlearning is an instructional unit that provides a short engagement in an activity intentionally designed to elicit a specific outcome from the participant.”
Wikipedia defines microlearning as “Dealing with small learning units and short-term learning activities.”
Carla Togerson, Head of Learning Experience Strategy at the award-winning L&D consulting firm Torrancelearning, explains: “Microlearning is learning content that can be consumed in less than 300 seconds.”
In simple words, all the definitions converge at one point – short engagement, big outcomes.
Practice makes perfect, is the habit inculcated through microlearning. The benefits of microlearning are many. They range from high levels of engagement, increased retention, higher job productivity, behavioral changes, etc.
In fact, microlearning is part of our everyday routine, whether we know it or not. Here are some examples of microlearning.
Microlearning vs Macro learning
It is crucial to understand the difference between microlearning and macro learning before we dive into the best practices for microlearning. Comparing microlearning and macro learning would be like comparing apples to oranges. For baking an apple pie, orange cannot be substituted. In that case, it would become a whole other dish. The decision to make an apple or orange pie depends on the individual and the use case. The same holds true for microlearning and macro learning.
Macro learning is a formal training that all of us have been subjected to, and focuses on larger and more complete skill areas. It is the educational option for mastering a new field of study in-depth. This approach requires time and effort. It is often associated with classroom training and the traditional LMS. Macro learning often involves the instructor and learner to be physically present during the course. The course could be taken in person or online. The course knowledge is delivered over time, with periodic one-time assessments to check if you understand the concepts. Macro learning has a downside of not being able to provide quick access to time sensitive information. This information is essential for employees to have increased efficiency and productivity.
Microlearning needs to include the right learning elements. It is smaller in size for consumption. Each small learning chunk includes critical instructional elements like practice, feedback, and reflection. The ideology behind microlearning is spaced repetition learning. The content is consumed quickly and is designed for maximum impact with minimal learning effort. Microlearning is useful for maintaining and updating knowledge.
Microlearning too has its downside. Breakdown of knowledge into bite-sized modules runs the risk of fragmentation. Special care must be taken to prevent loss of information. One also needs to ensure that the information is not separated from its context, as it leads to possible misunderstandings.
What is the Best Way to Design an Effective Microlearning Course?
Microlearning courses are short, less formal courses that can be completed within 2-3 mins daily. They provide the benefits of a larger course, but may be more appropriate for some learning styles. To design your own microlearning course, start with these steps
- Define your learning objectives – What are the goals of this course? What are you hoping to accomplish by taking it? Are there other courses in your curriculum that will help build on these skills and knowledge?
- Write a script – A successful microlearning course is easily relatable to the learner and depicts his/her situation. This not only makes learning effective, but also engaging and fun.
- Create a text-based or image-based content map – This is used to visually guide learners through the course content. With this module, users have the flexibility to choose their own courses at their own pace.
- Decide on the mode of delivery – Microlearning modules can be delivered using various mediums, from video-based lessons to text-based lessons. Choose the right medium depending on the learning objective and profile of learners.
- Create learning goals to track progress – Using this tool, learners and managers can monitor their progress. It also helps them identify what skills they learned at each step of the course, and their individual learning agility.
The micro-learning course design process begins by identifying the learner’s needs. It then focuses on addressing those needs. Next, the instructional designer should create an outline for the course. This should include topics and subtopics, plus any other relevant information pertaining to the course. The final step is to evaluate the course. This ensures that all the content is clear and concise, before publishing it online or distributing it via a mobile app.
8 Microlearning Best practices
Micro-learning is a new trend in corporate training. It provides learners with short and concise, bite-sized chunks of information that are easy to digest and can be consumed on the go. Micro-learning courses are often designed for specific learning outcomes. Like teaching how to use a software program or how to make a particular dish in the kitchen. Since the outcomes are well defined, it is crucial to ensure that the following are followed for the best results:
- Short, sweet and mobile – The purpose behind microlearning is easily accessible knowledge at your fingertips. Having long drawn courses defeats the purpose. Ensure your content is short to the point, and uses only 3-5 mins of the learner’s time.
- Scenario based lessons – A scenario-based approach to microlearning yields the best results. It challenges learners to think critically about real-life situations that could arise on the job. This improves the competence of individuals who require foundational, behavioral, and knowledge skills.
- Personalized – Learners should receive content based on various factors, such as competency level, learning agility, assessment scores, previous modules attempted and completed, etc. The microlearning courses will be successful if they are more learner-centric and learner-specific.
- Gamification – Human beings are naturally competitive. Scoring stimulates their desire to perform well. This results in higher engagement, which is critical to the success of any corporate training program.
- Modes of delivery – Don’t keep your content heavy and boring. Ensure that you incorporate and integrate design elements within the micro format. Videos, illustrations, etc act as a honey-trap to keep your employees’ learning journey engaging and fun.
- Timely delivery of relevant information – Microlearning should be part of your employees’ daily workflow. It should be integrated with content relevant to their duties. It is good to provide them with role-specific training, which would reinforce concepts learned. Also, ensuring timely delivery of learning helps keep employees engaged without disrupting the cycle.
- Track progress – A necessity to any growth matrix is evaluation and feedback. The same holds true for a learner’s journey. The microlearning app should provide the learner with a detailed understanding of how much knowledge they have gained since the inception of their microlearning course.
- Social learning – As research suggests, peer to peer learning has always resulted in quicker and better outcomes. This combined with microlearning is a powerful tool to achieve substantial learning outcomes. Microlearning can be a highly social tool with learners, by sharing how they applied microlearning nuggets at work. This can be enabled in your workforce by adding chat rooms, discussion forums, and Q&A boards.
All these aspects give a comprehensive guide to the best practices followed in the microlearning industry. This strategy has proven to increase employee skill, productivity, and performance. The result would be better business outcomes in the long run.
What are you waiting for? Get an upper hand and be a future ready business with microlearning!