“Sometimes less is more,” is a phrase most of us have heard and, when it comes to learning and development, this is often true. Used in conjunction with longer or more robust learning courses, bite-sized microlearning activities have a number of advantages and - when done well - can even have better outcomes with higher completion and retention rates for your employees than other types of learning activities. So, what exactly is microlearning and how should it fit into your training program?
To put it simply, microlearning is a type of short-form learning activity, usually with the intended purpose of completing one specific learning objective. Microlearning can be delivered digitally through computers or mobile devices or even through in-person training, and it may last anywhere from a few seconds up to about 20 minutes, although many experts agree that the most effective microlearning activities are between three and seven minutes in length.
A workplace culture that prioritizes learning is always primed for healthy growth. Longer-form training can be very effective in many different situations, but, by also including digestible chunks of microlearning content into your training program, you can increase team engagement and cover important information quicker and more easily. Here are 6 ways you’ll boost your training program with microlearning.
One of the biggest barriers to any learning and development program is how much time it can take. In fact, according to Deloitte, a professional services and research company, employees can only dedicate about 1% of their week - or just 24 minutes - to learning and development. That means that even investing an hour or two in a required training course or optional professional development opportunity can be difficult, and may induce some foot-dragging on the part of your team. With microlearning, this isn’t a problem. Your employees can complete vital training in lightning-fast sessions that pack a punch without being too big of a burden on their already-full schedule.
We’ve all had to sit through poorly authored in-person seminars or digital training courses before, where gravity seems to have a preternatural hold on our eyelids as we fight a losing battle against nodding off. In the middle of a busy day, it can be hard to refocus attention on a long learning activity. But, with microlearning, your team only needs to be engaged for short bursts of time, which means it is much easier to hold their attention. Use microlearning to keep your audience alert and engaged to improve their learning outcomes.
Online training in general can offer your employees the kind of flexibility that helps them stay compliant and up-to-date on their training without too much trouble. With microlearning activities, this is even more true. By integrating online microlearning activities into your training program, you give your employees the opportunity to complete their training whenever and wherever works best for them. This means increased completion rates and less time spent tracking down employees who still haven’t done their training.
In many industries, standards and compliance requirements may shift regularly and it can be hard to stay on top of what’s new. A combination of full-length courses and microlearning activities may help your team to stay up-to-date on any changes and remain compliant with your industry standards and requirements more easily. Microlearning courses can also make it easier for you to create a more nimble and prepared workforce, helping them to enhance their safety knowledge and skills with quick refresher courses.
The human attention span and rate of retention of new knowledge can be a bit demoralizing when it comes to learning and development. According to the Forgetting Curve, developed by 19th century German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, people forget new knowledge at an incredible rate, often retaining only about 60% of what they have learned after just 20 minutes. This means that finding the right delivery method for your training is incredibly vital to how effective it will be for your team - and quick and easy repetition is a big part of that.
Although the bottom line probably isn’t the most important consideration you make when it comes to how you approach your team and their training, no one can deny that microlearning can also be a huge money and time saver. Short courses with a single, clear objective mean your company can cover important topics in a fraction of the time - and cost.
When paired with other forms of learning opportunities, microlearning is a powerful tool in your learning and development toolbox. It can even be used to combat the training forgetting curve by being used after initial training as a part of your onboarding plan for new employees. In fact, by relying on such short learning bursts, reviewing vital skills and information as needed becomes much simpler for all members of your team.
An investment in learning and development is an investment in your people. Whether you are using microlearning to improve your workplace culture, upskill or reskill your employees, keep your team compliant, or invest in your employees’ professional development, high-quality microlearning activities are the perfect fit to suit the needs of your company and your people.