It’s getting difficult to tell a fad from a genuinely new development these days, but make no mistake: microlearning is here to stay.
In fact, not only has it been gaining popularity in the eLearning world, but it’s also getting recognized as a valuable tool in traditional educational settings.
Besides, far from a fad, microlearning is not even a new concept. It has been around for ages, helping learners learn smarter and save time by freeing them from having to re-learn familiar concepts.
As an effective adult learning tool, it might just be the thing for the senior learners in your organization. You know, those who already possess plenty of knowledge and should now get their training on a need-to-learn basis.
In this article, we’ll attempt to define microlearning and discuss the learning situations where design strategies based on its principles will increase efficiency.
What is microlearning?
In educational technology jargon, microlearning is any brief and targeted learning object that spans between 3 to 6 minutes.
These microlearning “nuggets” can be connected or stand alone, and they should be able to be referred to at anytime and by anyone — ideally by being available in a repository for quick access.
Microlearning is focused on specific learning outcomes, and can be used as a part of formal training when quick references are appreciated by trainees.
For learners in need of a “refresher” or a “quick revision”, microlearning enables them to learn without having to browse pages upon pages of content, which ultimately is one of the most important microlearning benefits!
After all, this is what makes it a perfect fit for the knowledgeable and experienced employee who does not have the time to go through the entire course, with which they are already familiar.
If a microlearning option is available, they can simply access the topic of interest and achieve their learning goal within minutes.
How is that better than accessing a chapter directly from the full course?
Glad that you asked. See, the trouble with most eLearning course chapters is that they usually build upon previous content or storyline.
While this interconnectedness is fine when you’re going through the material and completing a full course, it’s hardly the best option for a quick review. And that’s because it requires the learner to follow the whole thread from the beginning to understand any subsequent chapter.
In contrast, microlearning “nuggets” are created with the specific intention to serve as complete and concise, stand-alone units.
Accessibility issues are also far less frequent in microlearning “nuggets”, allowing the learner to experience such sessions from any kind of device they prefer. In fact, mobile compatibility is one of the most significant points that microlearning design has to address, and that’s again something that’s extremely beneficial for adult learners.
When adults return from work (especially office work), they do not want to turn on their laptops. Instead, they turn to their smartphone or tablet, and if they are going to engage in any kind of learning, they want it to be quick, easy and entertaining.
This kind of behavior is typical of the millennial generation that grew up with increasingly powerful mobile devices.
For these reasons, to offer your learners the best microlearning experience, you’ll need not only a capable LMS platform, but also great mobile support, like the one offered by TalentLMS’ native client for iOS (and, soon, for Android).
It was built and optimized specifically for microlearning scenarios, offering all the conveniences you’d expect, from a streamlined UI that makes microlearning “nuggets” stand out, to offline support for learning off-the-grid and a powerful gamification engine to make the whole experience fun.
Microlearning Applications in the Workplace
Traditional learning environments in the education sector are rapidly being replaced by eLearning programs in the corporate sector, driven by the need for brisk professional growth.
Longer courses, training sessions, workshops and hefty manuals are less preferred by employees. This does not imply that they do not want to attend training programs, just that they opt for shorter learning surges and more control over their training regimes.
These factors conspire to make bite-sized learning a cheaper and more efficient method to fulfill the learning desires of employees.
Let’s examine some popular applications for microlearning in the corporate learning environment.
Convert Policies and Manuals into Interactive Videos
Instead of having to plan and execute onboarding, offboarding or migration courses for employees and having them go through hefty manuals and PDFs, provide them with microlearning “nuggets” of the most important parts of content.
Create short interactive videos that are arranged chronologically, but function as complete units.
This way, instead of sitting through sessions of workshops, employees can simply experience them through their mobile devices, in their spare time. Empowering them within their convenience is definitely the way to go!
The mobile TalentLMS clients leverage the full power of the Cloud-based TalentLMS to make incorporating video and multimedia snippets in your courses a breeze, and will even encode them and prepare them to be compatible for mobile and offline use. In fact, TalentLMS can even let you know if you include any material that’s not suitable for offline use.
Create a Taxonomy of Training Modules in the Corporate eLearning Library
You have a plethora of learning materials that need to be consumed regularly by all employees.
Consider renaming them using key terminologies for efficient accessibility.
Try to create complete and independent modules, and have them arranged in the library in alphabetical order.
Each module should be searchable using at least five different keywords, and it should not be longer than 6 minutes.
The shorter consumption time, and the increased discoverability and ease of access, will aid in the success of your eLearning program.
Think about a newly promoted employee who needs a briefing on their new responsibilities. While a verbal briefing is a formality and useful for interpersonal relationships, a microlearning “nugget” can provide them with the knowledge needed to confidently take over their new job duties.
Other Benefits of Microlearning
Microlearning helps create a sense of autonomy in the employee.
The fact that microlearning puts them in control while increasing their responsibility over their own training, along with the rapid learning capabilities it affords, can effectively change employees’ attitude and morale, which eventually fosters a positive workplace culture!
Moreover, updating the content is faster and more efficient with microlearning.
Performance gaps are filled up faster, so that there are fewer lapses in achieving the goals and objectives of a team. The motivation to learn and the faith in learning is restored, almost automatically.
Shorter attention spans require shorter exposure to information, and this is what turns microlearning into an instant knowledge booster.
A great way to relate with the microlearning strategy is to compare it with an individual’s general internet-based learning habits. Outside the workplace, we often find ourselves pondering over a question and searching for relevant videos or articles on the Internet. We love to learn in brief snippets, and come back to go through the remaining content until we complete it.
And that’s microlearning’s secret: it helps you create eLearning programs that are as compelling for the employee as they are for an individual outside the workplace.
After reading through our arguably macro post, you should already have a good grasp of microlearning and the opportunities it affords for enterprise training and talent development.
The next step would be trying microlearning in practice — and for that you’ll need the right microlearning tools. We suggest TalentLMS for iOS and (soon) Android, our comprehensive microlearning solution that builds upon the solid TalentLMS Cloud foundation and web client to provide a rich, and fully native, microlearning experience.
TalentLMS for mobile devices comes complete with micro-assessments, for checking your learner’s progress under various compliance scenarios, a gamification engine to increase engagement, and multimedia capabilities for filthy rich learning.
Visit the TalentLMS website to create a new, free account, download the complimentary native mobile client, and start your microlearning courses today!