Today’s fast-moving society is transforming the business world. There’s more information, opportunity, and innovation than ever before. Business is… well, … busy! That’s a good thing, right? The one thing there is not more of is time. It is a precious, limited resource – and you want to spend all your precious time focusing on your customers and growing your business.
But you also need to keep up with the latest trends, tools, techniques, and tips for running your business. That means training. Who has time for training? You do! Long gone are the days of hours in a classroom, and “Everything You Will Ever Need to Know …” manuals for learning about new software, processes, and techniques for bringing your business to the next level.
Actually, most of us have been “microlearning” most of our lives. Essentially, microlearning means that content is presented to learners in specific, bite-sized chunks. The goal is to provide you, the learner, with just the right amount of information, right at the time when you need it so that you can complete a specific task right when you need to complete it.
Connie Malamed, the eLearning Coach, helps us with a more concise definition:
“Regardless of whether it is used informally or as part of a structured learning experience, microlearning has a few consistent features.
- Brevity: Microlearning events are short, though there is no defined duration.
- Granularity: Due to their brevity and purpose, microlearning focuses on a narrow topic, concept or idea.
- Variety: Microlearning content can be in the form of a presentation, activity, game, discussion, video, quiz, book chapter, or any other format from which someone learns.”
So, if microlearning has been around for as long as we have been learning, why is it so important now?
In her book “The Microlearning Guide to Microlearning,” Carla Torgerson, MEd, MBA, tells us that “A convergence of three factors make microlearning the most popular kid on the block right now: the proliferation of mobile phones, our social connectedness, and everyone’s very busy schedules.”
Microlearning is a smart business decision for many reasons. Here are just three:
Learner autonomy is one of the greatest benefits. Microlearning allows you to feel in charge, choosing the lessons and learning opportunities that meet your immediate needs. And microlearning also makes planning time for learning more manageable.
Microlearning content that you develop is easier to maintain than traditional, full-length courses. Bite-size microlearning lessons can be quickly updated and funneled out to the audience through social media, video, and short interactive lessons.
There is already so much information already available, at no extra expense. A simple web-search brings an enormous amount of information to you in mere seconds. And many businesses are now including Getting Started videos at no extra charge.
Certainly, traditional classroom and webinar learning events will always have a place in the world of professional learning. And there are times when person-to-person is the best approach to learning a new skill. Yet, it is undeniable that technology has changed forever the way in which we learn.
Joe Richer, Curriculum Design Leader for Sage Learning Services, shares his perspective:
“What is the first thing you, or anyone else, does when they don’t know how to do something that needs to be done? For most people, there is a one-word answer; Google.
The Internet has changed the world and some learning organizations have hardly noticed. Yes, learning with an eye on the future is still important and always will be; but microcontent that answers the question of the moment with a couple of mouse clicks will become more and more important in a world becoming more and more complex.”
5 Key Points about Microlearning
Whether you are developing your own, buying learning modules, or having microlearning custom developed for your organization, here are 5 key points to keep in mind as you bring microlearning into your workplace:
- Make microlearning available at the point of need.
What learning tool do most of us have with us nearly all the time? Right! A smartphone. Be sure that online learning is compatible with mobile devices.
- Each lesson needs to be “micro” in size.
Whether it’s a video, an infographic, or step-by-step instructions, the content must be presented and received in just a few minutes.
- Ensure that a learning objective, that is performance related, can be accomplished in a single sitting.
In the workplace these days, especially for millennials, we expect quick access to information. Lessons need to be short and to the point.
- Be sure the learning event is attention-grabbing.
With microlearning, it is important to grab and keep the attention of the learner quickly. And learning that includes videos, gifs, and quizzes will enhance retention.
- Include a little bit of nice-to-know information.
Nice-to-know information includes details, descriptions, and examples for better comprehension. Just be sure that the lesson is still short and to the point.
Include microlearning as a part of your onboarding process. Sure, you will want and need to have face-time with new colleagues, but there are benefits to using a microlearning approach for some onboarding learning.
- Micro-lessons keep new employees from overloading on new information, which can result in a lower retention.
- New employees can start learning before they start working. You can provide access to information so that employees can become familiar with the organization and culture before their actual start date.
- Traditional classroom onboarding training can be inefficient, and even boring. With microlearning, learners spend time where they need to and can quickly move through information.
Ready to get started?
Here are a few resources for you to do your own microlearning about microlearning.