Why Microlearning is continuing to dominate trends in eLearning development.
November 12, 2020
What is Micro Learning?
Micro Learning is much as you might expect from the name – it’s learning, but smaller and shorter in length with less complexity. Micro Learning doesn’t have a set length but tends to prefer a larger number of smaller training modules to be able to carry clear, concise and retainable messages to learners.
The content of micro learning tends to include simpler items such as text, audio, video and basic interactive elements such as clicking on choices or entering text. There is a strong focus with micro learning to present only the most important information at the moment to the learner. In this way, micro learning is very representative of our “on demand” culture that wants immediate access to just enough information to solve their problems.
Why is Micro Learning so popular?
There are many reasons by micro learning is continuing to surge in popularity, but here are 5 of the most important reasons we at Positive Results™ feel it is becoming a dominant trend in the training and development industry.
- Focus and Retention Improvement
- Increased Learner Satisfaction
- Mobile Compatibility
- Cost Effectiveness
- Faster Turnaround Time
Focus and Retention Improvement
It’s harder than ever to keep learner’s focused on training. With all the distractions of technological devices, social media and busy schedules, it can be an uphill climb to make your training interesting or engaging enough to keep the attention (let alone retention) of the average learner.
Now the focus has shifted to questions like “what is the most important information to relate to the learner?” and “How can that information best be taught to the learner in a way they will be able to understand and apply?”
Micro Learning allows you to create quality training that still relays the core message of the training, but does away with a lot of the extraneous fluff. It’s a minimalistic approach that helps one really determine the true point of the training and deliver that content to the user over a shorter time span to fit into their schedule.
Getting your learner’s attention is only half the battle, however. More important, you want the learner to retain the knowledge being passed along to them.
Increased Learner Satisfaction
Learners love well-prepared micro learning because it gives them only what’s needed when they need it and provides it in a clear and easy to understand format. Trainers can provide very specific, high-level concepts or facts to the learner quickly and it allows them to digest those in bite sized morsels, akin to checking their email or social media feeds.
Because micro learning doesn’t have the length of a traditional learning course, it allows learners to jump in and out, giving them more freedom and flexibility to take the learning when it’s convenient for them and still receive value for their time.
More and more learners are choosing to use a phone or tablet rather than a computer as their electronic device of choice, and this is no different when it comes to training. According to one survey, 47% of organizations use mobile devices in their training programs. This number is continuing to increase as mobile phones become more complex and able to handle more tasks and applications.
Micro learning is a perfect fit for mobile because it tends to favor smaller 5-7 minute trainings across a handful of screens with only a few interactions required. Many times videos or sound bites may be the bulk of the training experience.
Due to this minimalistic approach, it’s very easy for a learner to turn the training on for a few minutes during their free time, and learn something meaningful. And because the trainings are small in size and often accessible from the cloud, the learner can access the training where and when they want.
Traditional training (whether eLearning or Instructor-Led Training development) can cost a lot of money. Micro Learning, by virtue of being smaller and often tailored specifically to a particular learning element can be much cheaper to produce and easy to revise, if necessary.
Saving money on production while still getting your message across means you’re getting more value for the time and effort being invested. This savings could then be re-invested in continuing to create more micro learning to meet demand or into other areas of the business.
Faster Turnaround Time
Not only does micro learning development require less money to produce than traditional training development, it also generally takes less time to develop. Less development time means that for truly on-demand training that needs to be rolled out to learners ASAP (such as an urgent training on new products being stocked for a manufacturing company or new changes to regulations for a financial planning company) can be done within a reasonable period of time.
Because the turnaround time is much quicker for micro learning, your team should also receive feedback about the training quicker, allowing you to make adjustments as necessary. Due to the trainings being much smaller, those adjustments should take less time, allowing the required changes to go live quite fast.
Downsides to Micro Learning
While micro learning can be very beneficial and versatile for a variety of situations, it does have some drawbacks.
The most noteworthy downside of micro learning is that it isn’t very deep, which isn’t bad in and of itself, but because a lot of training is created to meet fairly rigid compliance standards, there needs to be a way to ensure those standards are met without compromising the spirit of the training.
Another drawback of micro learning is its focus on providing only what’s necessary at the moment. Traditional training tends to group more information together inside of courses in order to predict and resolve potential questions or issues before they occur. Micro learning can still solve for this, but requires intelligent planning to create modules that connect portions of the overall training together in a coherent way while still remaining streamlined and small individually.
Does Micro Learning Make Sense for Your Business?
Micro Learning isn’t for everyone and doesn’t make sense in every training. However, it does provide a very significant benefit for trainings where it does fit.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself and your team to determine whether micro learning might be a good fit for your business.
Best Practices for Micro Learning Creation
Not all micro learning is created equal. There are ways to trim content into potent teaching morsels, but if you trim too much you may lose the message or remove necessary context for the learner. Below are 3 best practices to help ensure your micro learning design stays laser focused and delivers the highest quality message.
Take a Minimalist Approach
One of the questions often asked within minimalist philosophy states “is this really necessary?” This is something you should ask yourself about each part of the training as you are designing or trimming it to fit within a micro learning format. Micro learning should contain only what’s needed to deliver that 5-7 minute morsel of information without any extraneous information.
A good rule of thumb is, if you can take part of the training out and the required outcome of the training can still be met easily and successfully, you probably don’t need that part of the training.
Introduce Smart Interactivity
Micro Learning is great in that learners can get through a lot of content quickly in that format, but it’s important to be able to measure whether they’re actually learning the content or just skimming through the material. Adding some interactive elements that play into the context of the training can help break the monotony of clicking through slides.
Consider adding a short quiz or puzzle for learners to do in order to progress so they need to remember to pay attention to what’s being presented to them. Because there is a lot less information to process and the information is more important, this should be a reasonable ask of most audiences.
Provide a Good Mixture of Video, Audio and Text
When one thinks about micro learning, one may think all elements need to be removed until you’re left with just plain text. This is not the case, as textual elements are not the optimal way for many learners to comprehend and retain the information.
Audio and Video elements not only keep things interesting from page to page of the training, they also increase the likelihood that the training is getting through to more learners. Perhaps you want to show an infographic about workplace safety codes on one page, narration about the expectations about workplace safety on the next page and a short video from the company safety manager on the third page to ensure this message is getting across.
With only text, it’s easy to skim it and forget it. When you carry the message across multiple mediums it’s more likely to sink in.
Micro Learning isn’t going away any time soon, as demand continues to increase for this type of training. “The microlearning market is expected to register a CAGR [Compound Annual Growth Rate] of 14.2% over the forecast period (2020- 2025).” As this demand increases, there’s more reason to at least consider whether this type of learning development would be a good fit for your business.
Some examples of training that fits well in the Micro-Learning format include:
- On the job support training for hard/soft skills
- “How-to” video training on using applications
- Podcasts to convey company-related news content
With the potential to save time and money while also providing a product that learners are more interested in, micro learning has the potential to become a massive win-win proposition in the training world.
Positive Results™ provides Learning Development solutions, including micro learning, to businesses across the United States. We help companies to develop and structure training content into Micro-Learning and other formats.
If you have questions or need support with your micro learning, contact us at:
Positive Results™ Custom Business Solutions
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