What is microlearning?
When asked to define microlearning, most educators or trainers would say it is teaching large ideas in small doses. But, microlearning training also embraces a holistic approach to teaching skill-based concepts using focused, short-term practice activities that will reinforce skills faster than traditional learning models. In fact, when new material is presented in small bursts, understanding, and recall of that material is significantly improved.
A true microlearning definition is flexible and is sometimes applied to different methods of training, especially those associated with mobile learning or module-based training material. These learning strategies allow the students or employees to progress at their own pace, completing training modules that gradually increase the level of subject difficulty. But, this does not necessarily mean the learner is being trained using microlearning techniques.
There are a number of microlearning concepts that can be used to distinguish between microlearning and other mobile or e-learning platforms:
- Each topic presents a narrow or simplified view of a training concept or skill
- The individual sessions are specifically designed to be performed in a short time frame
- Learner confidence is increased as they move more quickly through each topic
These same microlearning features can be used within blended e-learning class settings that include some instructor-led sessions or all virtual training courses that promote self-learning from any location and at the student’s own pace. While some may believe microlearning is a great way to reinforce concrete terms and hard skills (such as equipment operation), it is also used for teaching soft skills such as communication, active listening, or problem-solving.
When it comes to mobile training sessions, microlearning is a natural fit for today’s online students that are accustomed to digesting small amounts of information in a short amount of time. Microlearning platforms may become the preferred mode of training a workforce that must constantly update skills, knowledge, and facts as quickly as technology and the world changes.
Now that you have a better understanding of the definition of microlearning, we’d like to share some ideas and how different microlearning platforms can be used to create a total training strategy. These microlearning topics can be applied to retail, corporate, machine operations, or health and safety topics across all industries.
Consider the many examples of microlearning courses that are used every day in different industries such as new product training for sales teams. Instead of bringing your regional sales teams and reps into a classroom setting, they can quickly learn the features and benefits of your new product and immediately help prospective buyers decide if the new product fits their needs.
Similarly, customer service teams can also benefit from microlearning. Managers can use modern training software to deliver quick, yet effective, lessons on new products, services, skills, and procedures that agents need to know. This gives agents the opportunity to complete micro training right at their desk in-between assisting customers instead of going off of the floor for hours at a time to attend training sessions.
Another microlearning example is for the HR department’s onboarding training of new employees. Microlearning modules take a huge burden off your human resources department when used to explain your corporate mission, core values, and organizational structure. Using various types of microlearning platforms that are interactive is a great way to train new or existing employees in a wide range of skills including:
- Company practices and policies
- Leadership and communication
- Computer skills
- Workplace safety and wellness
- Machine operation
- Project management
An interactive training session combined with micro training principles can increase employee engagement and help each learner to pay attention longer while retaining information better. When choosing a microlearning platform for your training purposes, consider those that allow for short videos like YouTube videos or TedX Talks, along with simulated real-life scenarios, quizzes, and assessments.
Other types of microlearning that should be included when creating your microlearning topics and course material include:
- Animated videos
- Flip-through ebooks
- Interactive PDFs
- Animated whiteboards
- Expert webinars
- Training podcasts
All these types of microlearning can be integrated using microlearning platforms that are seamless, data-driven, and built to help remote teams learn, think, and do Better Work.
Benefits of Microlearning
The best microlearning content is highly engaging and typically offers better information retention. Microlearning strategies are beneficial during formal training of employees by reinforcing or supplementing primary learning goals or training objectives. Microlearning is also beneficial for informal training sessions that are less structured and may include animated videos, games, coaching sessions, or infographics.
During national or business emergencies, microlearning content is the best solution to overcome temporary business closures or stay-at-home mandates. Consider the new normal of COVID -19 and how microlearning strategies can be used as businesses, travel, and public entities start to reopen.
- Employee Training: to quickly bring teams up to speed for fast deployment
- Emergency Mandates: to overcome classroom capacity and travel restrictions
- Remote Workers: continue training employees that are working from home
While the benefits of microlearning include the elimination of the need for the physical space and physical assets required in traditional training scenarios, many microlearning advantages are subjective—that is, they benefit the business owner and the employee being trained. Here’s why:
Employees can learn in the office, at home, or while sitting in a coffee shop due to the flexibility of microlearning platforms. Microlearning software can be used on a wide range of devices, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Flexible microlearning content
Many people are visual learners and many employees can benefit from multiple forms of information delivery. Most microlearning strategies include rich media formats that combine interactive video and audio which has been proven to reinforce information for better retention.
Agile delivery method
Microlearning is so agile that it can be used for just-in-time training of employees with new or changing information. Learners can also assess training on-demand. Instead of pushing training sessions out, many employees prefer training that is delivered when they need it and when they have the time to complete the training.
Cost-effective and affordable
Avoid the high costs of instructor-led training sessions, printed material, and employer travel. Microlearning sessions are fast and easy to build. Also, they can be completed in a short time period, so employee downtime is limited, saving your company money.
Better information retention
The best microlearning content is strategically built to be delivered in small doses of learning and may include other learning aids such as quizzes and videos. Since the information is reinforced and builds upon previous sessions, employees learn better and remember the information longer.