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Quick guide to microlearning header

A quick guide to microlearning

Modern businesses require training to be flexible, effective, and accessible at the point of need.  Increasingly microlearning is being used to meet that challenge.

A dilemma for L&D

With their increasingly busy schedules, modern employees have little time for learning and development.  Taking them away from their work to attend training sessions eats up time and budget impacts productivity.  What’s more one-off learning events have limited impact over time as information is quickly forgotten.  Microlearning offers a training solution fit for 21st-century L&D.

What is microlearning?

Put simply microlearning means creating small chunks of learning that can be easily accessed and quickly digested.  It has been greatly encouraged by developments in digital technology.  

When we do a Google search, watch a YouTube video, or follow a social media recommendation, we’re doing microlearning.  What we’re after is a quick, easy, immediate response to a particular question.  And we want that information on our phones whenever we need it, however many times we want to check it.  

Microlearning is both a practice and a strategy.  It’s a means to an end.

Examples of microlearning in action

With digital technology, microlearning can come in a mix of media.  Here are some examples:

  • Video: A short YouTube video on how to tune a guitar or fix a leak.  Or a screen capture animation showing you how to work a piece of software, like creating breakout groups for a video conference.
  • Audio: A motivational podcast on selling techniques or a series of task directions.
  • Images: An infographic showing you the life cycle of a product or an exploded diagram of parts of a machine.
  • Text: A quick multiple-choice quiz to check progress or comment or post on a workplace discussion forum.  Or a checklist for carrying out a maintenance procedure or a customer call.

Microlearning can be created in a variety of apps: wiki sites, social media platforms (Facebook, Telegram, LinkedIn), work-related apps (Slack, Trello, MS Teams), and video sharing (YouTube, TikTok).  All offer opportunities for information sharing, collaboration, and dialog.

12 uses and advantages of microlearning:

  1. More targeted: A chunk of microlearning quickly meets a specific learning outcome.  This increases its relevance and effectiveness.
  2. Learner-centric: Microlearning responds more directly to learners’ needs.  It gives them control and responsibility for their own training
  3. Improved access: Its small size means microlearning is accessible on mobile devices.  It can be tagged for easy searching.  The content too is delivered in an engaging, accessible way for greater impact.
  4. Better retention: Microlearning is ideal for spaced practice.  Research in cognitive science shows that using strategies like repetition and reinforcement fastens information in our long-term memory. 
  5. No more forgetting: If the information doesn’t always stick, it’s easy to retrieve and review it.  This gives microlearning that just-in-time edge.
  6. Easier to produce: Because it can consist of a single image, a short animation, or a piece of text, microlearning doesn’t require huge development time and effort.  It can be created by any employee who wants to share experience and knowledge. 
  7. Cheaper to produce: Microlearning content can be created without a large L&D development budget.  A microlearning video or audio file can be created with just a mobile phone.  
  8. Plugging skills gaps: Agility is required to keep pace with business practices and objectives changes.  Microlearning assets can be used to teach new skills and add new information to your knowledge database to fill skills gaps.
  9. Sharing knowledge: Encourage employees to share their knowledge by creating their own nuggets of microlearning.  These can be uploaded to a learning platform from which they can be accessed across the entire organization.
  10. Clearer data: Because of their size and their number microlearning assets are easier to track and monitor using analytics tools.  This means you have a better grasp of what’s working and what isn’t and what gaps to fill – with new microlearning content.
  11. Learning in the workflow: The agility and flexibility that microlearning gives an organization brings training into the flow of work.  Learning content is available wherever you’re working and can be consumed without disrupting the performance.  In fact, it enhances it.
  12. Creating a learning culture: Microlearning increases the possibilities of continuous learning.  It supports effective collaboration and the dissemination of knowledge and makes the experience of learning more engaging and relevant.  

A little goes a long way

Microlearning may be the practice of creating a series of learning chunks. Still, if we aggregate those chunks, we can use them as the foundation for an agile, adaptable, responsive L&D strategy to meet the skills and training demands now and in the future.

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