Microlearning is a leaner, more effective way to absorb new skills and knowledge than traditional eLearning. Gone are the days of PowerPoint slide voice-overs for corporate training (thankfully). It works with dwindling attention spans to enable us to focus long enough to learn what we need to with bite-sized chunks of information. Let’s explore microlearning.
Microlearning: What Is It?
So, what is microlearning? Microlearning, a form of e-learning, is focused on providing small amounts of information for people to learn on their electronic devices. This is especially helpful as learners can be trained when they can and when they are ready to learn. They can download a training module for use on their commute or when there is no wi-fi available. According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, “learning in bite-sized pieces makes the transfer of learning from the classroom to the desk 17% more efficient.”
In sum, microlearning is:
- Faster to produce than traditional e-learning
- Takes less time for learners to receive and retain information
- Less expensive to produce
- Very effective for commercial and corporate training
Microlearning is really just tidbits of information. The emphasis is on brevity and ensuring the learner is heavily engaged. Microlearning comes in many forms but is always bite-sized. This helps a learner retain information quicker and more effectively.
It is helpful to include short assessments to test retention and uptake at the end of microlearning sessions. It allows for the quick consumption of key/new information and allows people to apply their new skills and knowledge much faster.
With microlearning, comprehension and retention are better than traditional training because the learning nuggets are focused, fast, and to the point (zero fluff!). Microlearning should only include 1-2 objectives and aim to help a learner walk away with 4 key takeaways.
How to Develop Microlearning
When learning how to create microlearning, you have to keep the audience engaged throughout. This means you must get to the point immediately and tell the audience what they will learn. Microlearning takes many forms, from written text to interactive multimedia.
Microlearning is designed in such a way that learners may use it on mobile devices. There are many different applications available to help you develop microlearning. Once you decide on a platform to use, there are some key things to keep in mind.
Keep content to less than 7 minutes.
The goal is to ensure we get a few key takeaways to the audience.
Lead with a question and ask questions throughout.
Retention is higher and engagement greater when learners are seeking answers at the beginning and throughout the session.
Consider adding a competitive component.
Just like gamers work tirelessly to make it to the next game level, businesses can create learning levels to entice employees to keep learning. Get creative with leader boards or contests – people love to compete.
Optimize for mobile accessibility.
Make the content easy to access and consume on a smartphone or tablet.
Microlearning can take many forms including:
- Illustrations and photos
- Quizzes and tests
- Audio only, including music
- Short videos (often accessed on YouTube)
- Simple games
- Text with very short paragraphs or bullets
There are many available examples of microlearning. Businesses use it to teach new skills, you can learn a new language using it, or even prepare for a college entrance exam.
One specific example, and one our favorites, is Four Minute Books. We may not have time to read an entire book, but we do have 4 minutes to get the summary and key takeaways. Another example is Varsity Tutors, which helps undergrads get ready for college entrance exams. Microlearning takes what could be overwhelming and makes it palatable.
Application: Microlearning For Business
Microlearning is ready when the learner is. An employee can download training and complete it when they are ready, whether in the office or on the move. Being able to download microlearning offline is also a huge plus. Learning can happen whenever an employee has a few minutes to kill.
Microlearning for business is excellent for compliance training or for training on new products/services being rolled out within an organization. They can even help employees with elevator speeches, making them excellent for use in sales departments.
Thankfully, short attention spans don’t have to impact our ability to learn. Microlearning is the saving grace for organizations that have to train busy employees. Understanding the many forms of microlearning and how to create it is a skill employers should prioritize.
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