So much has been written, spoken and shared about how microlearning is going to be the future of corporate training, that you might disregard this as “another post” on the benefits of microlearning in corporate training. But believe you me, this blog is different in the way it re looks at this whole development of microlearning as a learning strategy and how it is aligning itself to become the future of corporate training.

All my discerned readers will be aware that microlearning is a method of delivering learning content in tiny, bite-sized modules which fulfill a particular learning objective.  Microlearning has become very popular for the workplace training because of the benefits it offers like the increased accessibility, higher engagement levels and greater learning effectiveness over other forms of learning strategies may it be classroom training or e-learning.

For all the L&D managers who were and are still deep-rooted in the world of corporate training, digitization of learning was a fundamental change (in the way) which redefined how the learning was consumed. So what presumably changed with the digitization of learning was not the content but how the content was designed, delivered and accessed. Microlearning is yet another such paradigm shift in the way learning is being consumed. There are three primary reasons for it:

1.Need for Continual Learning

Continual learning at the workplace has become an important parameter that defines the growth rate and success of an organization. With today’s complex business environment and evolving technologies, it is critical that employees continue to learn and improve the “differentiating skills”. The goal of continual learning is to treat learning as an ongoing process, rather than something that ends when the certification is completed. To foster a corporate environment suitable for continual learning, the organizations must be flexible, agile and knowledge-friendly, providing new learning opportunities as often as possible. And this is where microlearning chips in.

Microlearning is beneficial not just due to its focused objective and short duration but also due to the flexibility it provides in the entire learning life cycle. For example, microlearning can be delivered even before the actual learning starts to prepare the learners for the learning. Small microlearning videos, which are precursors to the learning modules can stimulate and motivate the learners to take it up.  

Similarly, after the learning process has begun microlearning games and activities can keep the learners engaged to continue with the learning process. At this stage, microlearning can also play an influential role in changing or monitoring certain behaviours like clear communication, presentation, analysis etc. As a learning strategy, microlearning can trigger the behaviour change in the learners. For example, I had recently installed a mobile app which tracks the monthly expenses and records them.. The app also had the feature of educating the users  with micro learning videos which tells about the importance of the savings habit. The app shows you smaller videos as well as smaller articles that can be read in 3-5 minutes which is refreshed daily on inculcating savings habit. The daily microlearning nuggets could help me to start the savings habit in me which was a perfect behaviour change. As the learning modules are short, the attention span will be distributed evenly without any disengagement which helps in triggering behaviour changes.

And once the learning process is completed microlearning can act as a good reinforcement mechanism. Thus microlearning can act as the catalyst for the entire learning life cycle and thus support continual learning.

Another point to consider here is that microlearning is not a standalone learning strategy instead the best microlearning should be designed around the strategy of overall continual learning.  For example, a microlearning game on information security awareness may not be good enough on a standalone basis but makes perfect sense when it blended with the overall information security awareness policy of the organization.

2.Changing workforce behaviour

There is a visible shift in the workforce behaviour and why should it not be? “By 2025, the majority of the workforce, some 75%, will be made up of millennials, a generation who are reared on technology.“

According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), new millennial learners are “native speakers of the digital language”. These so called “modern learners” or “connected learners” or “ digital natives” whatever name you call them are the catalyst for these changes, finding new ways to work and how to work faster, whenever and wherever they choose. Needless to say these new technologies are also not just touching and influencing the learner’s everyday lives but almost accelerating the pace of life and work, and changing their behaviors.

Another important statistics in this regard is pointed out in the November 2014 research bulletin, Bersin by Deloitte that describes the “Modern Learner” as empowered, distracted, impatient, overwhelmed, collaborative, and of course, untethered. So what does this mean for the learning designers? It means that as e-learning designers we need to consider the learning requirements of modern day learners. They have less time to get work done, less time to learn, reduced ability to concentrate and extra short lived attention span…(less than that of a gold fish!…)

Bersin by Deloitte’s infographic “Meet the Modern Learner” is a snapshot of the challenges that the learning designers today face. As per this infographic, learning needs to be micro. – most learners won’t watch videos longer than 4 minutes. This statistics is good enough to emphasize the importance of microlearning while designing a learning strategy for the modern day learners.

Hence it becomes very important for the organisation to understand that learning for the millennials should be driven by the short burst of modules, engagement and interactivity. Here microlearning can be the best  form of learning

3.Available on demand

One of the biggest advantage of microlearning modules is that it’s available to the learners during the time of their need. Hence microlearning is also sometimes referred to Just in time learning. With the use of mobile learning, microlearning modules can be easily pushed directly to the devices of the learners. The learners can access the content from anywhere and any device.

The future of learning will be defined by  high level of customisation. Learners are no longer interested to learn irrelevant content  as they are prefer to learn at their convenience. Microlearning because of its quick development time and lesser requirement of complex subject matter gives the potential of customization as well as including relevant content suited to the learners.

Learning also happens outside the ecosystem of the formal learning environment. For example, organisations of today are using social platforms like whatsapp, online forums etc where the learning happens.  Another example is when the organisations  choose a social platform like YouTube to upload short animated videos. We had recently worked for a client whose requirement was 2d animated explainer videos on their various financial products. The short videos are aimed at both employees and consumers to understand about the financial products. The learners  can easily access the content from anywhere and any device with an active internet connection.

I believe that these three reasons should be enough for you to get started with microlearning as a part of your overall corporate training and learning strategy.  Through microlearning you can drive individual and organizational productivity by letting the learners access  and engage with content, which is relevant for them.