What is microlearning?

Microlearning is a learning strategy that delivers targeted, multimodal  and engaging content to the learners more like a ‘single concept content’, which has contextual relevance in their workflow and can be applied almost immediately in their roles at the workplace  

What are the challenges in workplace learning?

The strong buzz around microlearning is simply because organisations see microlearning as a way to solve many challenges in the corporate learning environment comprising the modern workforce like dwindling concentration and attention levels, relevance and application of learning content to their roles as well as lack of engagement..  

The Microsoft study report points out that the average attention span of the learners has reduced to 8 seconds. Similarly, learners do not want to learn content, which does not help them perform more effectively in their roles and can be applied at the time of their need. Moreover, learners want content, which is interactive and consists of videos, scenarios, music, audio and other multimedia elements. This calls for the organisation to implement exclusive learning strategies to combat it and microlearning proves to be an effective learning strategy to overcome the above-mentioned challenges.

Top 8 reasons for applying microlearning in 2019

1. The traditional training is not the right solution anymore

The increasing challenges faced by the L&D team in the modern workplace proves that traditional training is no more a right solution in the modern workplace.
For example, The LinkedIn workplace report 2018 mentions that the number one reason employees are held back from learning is because they don’t have time.  Evaluating the ground reality, a recent conversation with a section of employees(learners) in a manufacturing unit helped us to understand that they dislike lengthy classroom training sessions. They cite the same reason as it is difficult to find time for training from their already busy work schedules  This sometimes can force the employees to work overtime and overshooting the schedule.
While they don’t have a disagreement with the importance of corporate training, they are hoping to see the organisation providing more flexibility to the learning process.
Microlearning is a well-suited and effective strategy here. The small duration of the microlearning content with individual learning objectives can help in easy and quick knowledge transfer. The learner need not sit through a lengthy classroom session that can bore and disengage the learner. Also, an organization can invest in developing microlearning e-learning and make the learning content accessible to the learners at the moment of need popularly called Just In time learning. Here, learning becomes available on-demand and at the moment of need and the learners can take the learning process at their own pace when they are ready for it. This ensures that learners enjoy the learning process

As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, the organisations of today should use strategies that can tackle the challenges of the learning environment.  Hence microlearning is one of the best strategies that can be applied here to overcome the challenges of modern workplace learning.

2. Engages the multigenerational workforce

The year 2019 will be another challenging year to meet the needs of the multigenerational workforce that comprises various generation like Baby boomers, Gen x, Gen Y and Gen Z  in the workplace. With the baby boomers and Gen X being increasingly replaced by the Gen Y and Gen Z called as millennials and post-millennials respectively. The organisation should now invest the time and effort in developing e-learning courses that meet the demand of the modern workforce(Gen Y and Z). The modern workforce demands to learn content that is more relevant and demand the  WIIFM in learning as it allows them to weed out unnecessary information that surrounds them and focus on the key nugget of information.
Microlearning is ideally the right approach in managing the training for the multigenerational workforce. While microlearning is most ideal for the millennials and gen z, our experience says that it works out with the older generation of the workforce too. If you feel that they are not tech savvy, look around and you can see the older generation of the workforce that has embraced the technology like using smartphones, tablets and more.

3. Drives engagement by arousing curiosity

It should engage the audience…..
Our top priority is an engaging e-learning module.

If you are involved in the process of e-learning development, I presume that you have heard these statements and dialogues from your clients. Creating engagement among learners is one of the biggest challenge faced by every L&D team. With microlearning, an organisation can pump the level of engagement by choosing to personalise and make the learning relevant for the learner. The organisation can also include game mechanics and game elements that can surely drive the learner engagement and keep the learner coming back for more. 
Hence if learner engagement still bothers the L&D team at an organisation, explore the possibilities of implementing microlearning.

4. Human brain consumes information in small bite-size chunks

Let’s talk some science here- The human brain is not wired to maintain focus for hours on end. It learns better when the content is delivered in short bursts with the courses well-spaced out to help cement the learning. There are scientific studies that prove the same. For example, according to the Journal of Applied Psychology, learning in bite-sized pieces makes the transfer of learning 17% more efficient which means that microlearning is an ideal mode of transferring knowledge
Microlearning is ideally short chunks of learning content with individual learning objectives. The short duration of the content helps the brain to easily comprehend the relevant learning topics. An effective micro design is focused on only delivering the content that is most relevant i.e the organization needs to carefully refine the content from good to know to must know information.

5.Improves retention and recall

Learning is successful only when the learners are able to retain and recall the learning topic and microlearning can help in ensuring better retention and recall of the learning content. German researchers reported in 2015 that microlearning improved the retention rates by 20%. The research also found that microlearning made learners take 28% less time to answer questions which ensured a better recall of the learning topics.
Organisation can also choose to include microlearning as reinforcement tools to ensure the retention and recall of the learning topic. For example, the organisation can push the microlearning nugget at spaced intervals to ensure the learners retain and recall the things learned. Microlearning is the best learning strategy to overcome the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve

6. Matches the pace of today’s business

Emerging digital technologies and disruptive market changes mandate that employees learn, adapt, and evolve more quickly than ever before. The year  2019 is not going to be any different as new technologies like AI and Machine learning is sure to disrupt the business environment with rapid changes. Hence, the organisation is required to equip the workforce with the required skills and knowledge that are aligned with the objectives of the organisation.  With microlearning, the organisation can focus on relevant ‘application points’ that enhance a worker’s proficiency in a particular area quickly. The L&D team can identify the needed skills and knowledge which can be specifically developed as smaller targeted micro-nuggets to fulfill the learning objectives. Microlearning which requires only a quick turnaround is easy and quick to update. Thus the organisation can quickly push the micro-nuggets to the learners.

7. Supports mobile and deskless workforce

Numbers don’t lie and a popular research report mentions that 42.5% of  the global workforce set to be mobile by 2022.  This means that the shift is already happening where we will witness a rise in more deskless workers across the corporate environment. Thanks to mobile learning and improving network connectivity as the learners can now access the learning content from anywhere any device.
To train your deskless workers, I recommend the organisations to choose microlearning as it resonates with deskless workers because it fits seamlessly into their workflow and does not disrupt it.  With short duration of microlearning modules, the learners are voluntarily seen participating in the learning process. The comfort and flexibility of accessing the learning content from mobile device further encourage the learner to visit the learning content frequently Hence when designing e-learning for your mobile workforce, I recommend implementing microlearning.

8.Compatible with wide-ranging formats

Microlearning supports a wide-ranging format and can blend with other learning techniques and strategies like classroom training, e-learning gamification, scenarios, and simulations etc. The learners can consume and engage with microcontent in the various mode they prefer – text, videos, audio, quizzes, games, interactive GIF images, etc which makes microlearning a darling of the L&D department.

These 8 handpicked reasons tell you the importance of microlearning and why it is a must-include learning strategy for the corporate learning environment. Feel free to share your suggestions and recommendations using the comment box below.