Seems impossible? Well, it’s not. Using Microlearning courses, you can do just that. According to the findings of a survey on Learning and Development professionals, a whopping 94% said that they prefer microlearning to traditional time-consuming eLearning courses because their learners prefer it (Boyette, 2012).
What is Microlearning?
Microlearning delivers knowledge packed as relatively small learning units or in the form of short-term learning activities with concrete learning outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology says that learning in bite-sized pieces makes the transfer of learning from the classroom to the desk 17% more efficient.
Microlearning is mainly used to deliver short bursts of content for modern learners to study whenever and wherever they can. It is particularly useful in compliance training. Content varies from brief texts to full-blown interactive multimedia, but it should always be short and anywhere between 3- 10 minutes.
History of Microlearning
The first published use of the term “Microlearning” dates back to 1963 in a book called ‘The Economics of Human Resource,’ by Hector Correa. Microlearning came into the spotlight when the internet became much more accessible to domestic households in the mid-1990s.
With the introduction of smartphones, microlearning also got a major boost. Suddenly everybody had a portable device that had access to the internet and could be used to deliver content more effectively. People could learn something new in a few short minutes. In this age when the attention span of a normal human is 8 seconds (as per a study by Microsoft, 2017), microlearning is a blessing. And it can be used for all kinds of training including but not limited to employee onboarding, compliance training, and skills training.
It can be delivered faster: There are fewer things to write and organize which means shorter course delivery times. Using microlearning techniques, you can put together a course with a number of units or modules in a short amount of time. This lets you respond quickly to changing business trends and ever-changing training demands.
It is more affordable than conventional methods: A microlearning course is much cheaper to produce when compared to traditional teaching methods. The resources and instructors needed are comparably lower.
It is much more flexible: Microlearning courses can be used to teach any subject much more efficiently than regular eLearning courses and that too in a more manageable way. You can create simple courses for beginners who are just starting out to courses for advanced learners who want to delve more deeply into their topic.
It improves knowledge retention: It is well known that when you study something repeatedly and go and revisit it again later, you retain it much better. Such repeated study fits perfectly with microlearning units since they are self-contained, small, and very easy to return to when you feel the need to.
It gives more freedom to learners: Courses that rely on text-heavy methods are not really ideal for studying in short bursts. On the other hand, microlearning is designed to let the learners enjoy casual learning using infographics and video tutorials whenever they have some time to learn.
Limitations of Microlearning
Not ideal for complex concepts: Microlearning units are great for teaching simple topics but might not be the best fit for concepts that are much more complex. But with a little bit more work it is still very much possible. Firstly, you will have to break down the concept into simple digestible parts. That said, a micro-course is still a great way to learn a bit more about a subject.
Not suited for in-depth training: If you are learning something that requires you to study a subject or topic in-depth, microlearning might not be the way for you. For example, you can use microlearning techniques to learn conversational English, but not to study English literature.
Microlearning can be used to easily prepare learners for face-to-face or virtual learning sessions. For example, a quick short video before the actual session can be used to go through the basics of your program.
A second commonly used application of microlearning is as an event follow-up. Was a complex multi-step process for performing a task provided in the work session? You can make an infographic or a short video tutorial that details those steps and can also add any relevant links, articles, or page numbers of the employee manual to it. The learners can use it to refer during on-the-job tasks or post-session work.
Microlearning is also used to provide independent training. For example, say a program that is used throughout a company gets a minor update that does not need an hour or two of in-person instruction to get it done. In this case, a quick tutorial will suffice. So, create the tutorial and make it available to the team.
Most of the learning and development practitioners use microlearning as a performance support tool. Performance support is described as “what people will turn to when they are in their job trying to figure out how to do a task and needing to do it better.” Reference materials and job aids available at hand in a workplace are made using microlearning techniques.
Microlearning resources are available in many forms like infographics, videos, blog posts, job aids, eLearning modules, etc. It is adaptable and flexible according to your need. Through a technique called scaffolding, it is even possible to connect individual microlearning resources to create a cohesive training program. Microlearning hence has the power to make a significant impact from short sessions.