If you spend any time in the eLearning world, then you have likely heard the word “microlearning.” The term was originally used back in 1963 in Hector Correa’s book The Economics of Human Resources. It was more frequently used about three decades later in the mid-90s.
eLearning has grown significantly in recent years, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. The popularity of microlearning has increased along with it. This training method is extremely versatile. It can be used to teach just about anything and functions well on devices of any size.
If you have an employee training program that doesn’t use microlearning, you could be underperforming. This method takes less time and increases knowledge retention.
What Is Microlearning?
Microlearning takes a small piece of a topic and teaches it in a memorable way. Its brevity is what makes it so effective. Instead of bombarding learners with too much information, they instead receive small bite-sized pieces that are more manageable and memorable.
Each microlearning session focuses on a specific topic and usually only takes around five minutes to complete. The type of content included can vary. Common formats include:
- Text in short paragraphs or phrases
- Illustrations or photos
- Short audio clips
- Short video content
- Simple games or challenges
- Quick tests and quizzes
Any combination of the above can be used in a single microlearning session. Having multiple formats can help people with different learning styles retain more information.
What is it about microlearning that makes it so effective in employee training?
Less Information is Easier to Retain
The most obvious benefit of microlearning is that less information is easier to retain. It’s much easier to remember what’s said in a short paragraph than lengthy pages of text.
Microlearning works the same way. It breaks down content into easier to manage pieces. With self-paced learning, trainees can work on each segment until they are ready for more. This could be a decision that they make, or they may need to pass a test or quiz to prove that they understand the material.
Since most training builds on itself, it’s important to make sure employees have a good foundation established before they move on to more complex topics. Ensuring they have truly learned the material will make them more likely to be successful later in the training program and when they start working as a fully trained employee.
Provides More Detailed Data for Analytics
Microlearning makes it possible to pinpoint which content is doing well and which is not. By breaking everything down to a single concept per session, you can learn a lot about how trainees are interacting with each part of your training program.
This information is essential to improving courses. Anything that consistently underperforms likely needs to be reworked. Maybe the approach is wrong, maybe the content is confusing, or maybe there needs to be a second module added for better clarification or to supplement the information. It’s much harder to figure this out when dealing with a long class that covers multiple topics.
Technology and information change over time. This benefit makes it possible to stay on top of any areas that may be falling behind. If something changes in the industry or your business specifically, you can quickly create a new microlearning module or update an existing one. Then monitor for performance to see if additional changes need to be made to keep the learning process as streamlined as possible.
Allows for Better Personalization for Learners
Businesses have found that personalized learning is the way to go if you want to build a strong workforce. By tailoring the experience to the individual employee, you can help them build their skill set while increasing employee satisfaction.
Microlearning is great for personalization because you can pick and choose small segments for each person. It’s much easier to create a custom learning path that’s based on their career goals when you have the pieces ready to go.
When you give your team the tools that they need to get promotions or move into the positions they want, you also cut down on your recruitment costs. Today’s job candidates want to see opportunities for career development. Offering better training means you are more likely to get higher quality talent applying for positions and will see fewer existing workers leave. Better employee retention rates can save your company a lot of money.
Improves Learner Engagement
Learner engagement is important to training success. Research shows that better engagement leads to better outcomes. An audience who is engaged will pay closer attention and is more likely to interact with the content and their fellow classmates.
Microlearning nurtures engagement by providing impactful content that focuses on one concept at a time. Learners can absorb information better. They are less likely to feel exhausted or frustrated and will be more likely to continue training with other microlearning sessions.
Highly Adaptable to Any Situation
Nearly anything can be taught using microlearning. The format can use different content types so there’s something for any situation. Basic text can be displayed along with charts, illustrations, or photos. Short videos can be included to demonstrate instructions, interactions, and more.
Combining multiple learning formats is also good for knowledge retention. It makes the experience more memorable and caters to multiple learning styles.
Makes Employee Training More Flexible
Flexibility is very important today, especially with so many professionals working remotely. Even though many have returned to work, some companies have decided to continue offering work-from-home opportunities.
Microlearning fits in perfectly. It is easy to do on smaller devices, like smartphones and tablets. It takes a few minutes, which means learners can complete a session when they have downtime, even if that downtime is brief. It’s much harder to get into a long course when you only have five or 10 minutes while sitting at the doctor’s office or waiting to pick up the kids.
The flexibility of microlearning appeals to those who want to strike a better work-life balance. They can learn when they have a few otherwise wasted moments and can keep the bulk of their off time free. Even if it is only done during business hours, microlearning makes it much easier to fit training in between meetings and other commitments.
Costs Less to Produce Than Long Courses
Traditional courses that use a long format take more time and resources to produce. They are also more rigid. Once made, it’s harder to break them up into sections for learners who may not need the full course. It’s not impossible to do, but it usually takes more effort. And that means taking up more of your trainer’s time.
Microlearning is already portioned into small pieces. You can easily combine multiple microlearning sessions into one larger class. They cost less to produce and can easily be added or removed based on business needs. Fewer resources and trainers are needed to create and manage the class.
Visit LMS.org to learn more about employee training and the technology that supports it.