According to a 2017 report, 38 percent of talent development professionals already use microlearning—and another 41 percent plan to start within a year. So this statistics denote that the use and penetration of microlearning as a learning strategy continues and will continue to be one of the most popular trends in the domain of elearning.
Hence in this blog, I have compiled answers to some of the frequently asked questions about microlearning, which I feel will be of use to the entire e-learning community.
What is microlearning ?
Microlearning is a type of learning, which is delivered as small units. The learning topics are chunked to small relevant units to avoid the memory overload for the learners. They are also used more often for just-in-time learning purposes.
What is not microlearning?
Microlearning is not simply the breaking down of the learning topics into smaller pieces of information. Instead, the ideal way to go about creating microlearning nuggets is to identify the overall learning objective and then further concise it to smaller goals and milestones etc. to motivate the learners to learn act and practice.
3.What is the limited attention span that everyone is worried about?
The limited attention span of the learners is increasingly becoming a challenge for the various organizations. If the findings of a study by Microsoft are to be believed, the human attention span (8 seconds) is lesser than that of a goldfish (9 seconds). While the organisations of today are working around to find the right strategy to engage and train the learners effectively, microlearning can prove to be an effective solution to involve the learners.
How can microlearning tackle the challenge of decreasing attention span?
Microlearning is built around the theme of subject content which can be delivered over 3-5 minutes. Most of the microlearning is built around answering the questions like “what” and “how”.
Microlearning is also designed in a way that meets the needs and motivation of the learners. For example a microlearning video on “How to handle an aggrieved customer” or “How to greet a customer” etc are answering specific learning needs of the learners, while not increasing the duration of e-learning beyond 3-5 minutes.
Another factor is the frequency of these microlearning modules. Delivering the microlearning modules to the learners at a definite frequency helps to ensure that there is no information overload. It also helps to ensure that the learners can replay the learning content at ease which creates the positive reinforcements.
What are the common characteristic that you can see in microlearning modules?
1.Duration of 3-5 minutes per nugget
2.Easy to retain and recollect for the learners
3.Allows the learners to replay the learning content
4.Availability as per their need
5.Designed to enable learners to practice it in the working environment
6.Action-oriented as they support performance on the go
6.How does microlearning benefit the learners?
The key benefits of microlearning from the learners’ perspective are:
1.Retention and recall
German researchers reported in 2015 that microlearning improved the retention rates by 20%. Their research also found that microlearning made learners take 28% less time to answer questions which ensures a better recall of the learning topics.
The human brain absorbs and retains information better in smaller bits in comparison to the lengthy learning content .
2.Arouses the learning motivation
Microlearning chunks huge piles of information down into logical bite-sized nuggets. It gives learners digestible and to-the-point information that they can apply right away so the motivation to learn naturally grows higher.
Microlearning is the ideal ‘just in time’ training tool for every organisation. Learning becomes available on-demand and in the moment of need. Learners can take it at their own pace when they are ready for it.
Moreover, by accessing relevant, targeted information just in time, learners can quickly get what they need. Therefore, they can quickly tackle an instant problem or challenge.
For example, a microlearning product training nugget can help the salesperson to refer to the product training modules at his convenience. Even when the salesperson is out in the field, he can use his mobile device to access the learning contents and refer to it.
Microlearning is a learning strategy that focuses on the learner centric approach. Microlearning can take a flexible learning path which means that the learners can learn what they want, at their own pace, and on a device of their choice.
This gives them more control of the learning process which makes microlearning a learner-centred approach.
With every passing day, learners are getting more access to mobile devices such as tablets and smartphone.Organisations are increasingly promoting BYOD policies (Bring Your Own Device) where the learner can use his mobile devices like smartphones, tablets or iPad etc to continue the learning process. This guarantees increased accessibility of the learning content for the learners.
7.How does microlearning benefits the workplace?
The key benefits of microlearning for the business are:
1.Low cost of development
Organisations don’t require spending a huge sum to develop microlearning modules or in implementing microlearning as an elearning strategy for the organization.
Studies reveal that organizations end up bringing down the development cost by 50% with microlearning at a development speed of +300%.
2.Shorter development cycle
As microlearning nuggets are short, it takes only very less time to develop the microlearning nuggets. This shorter development cycle results in less expenditure and at the same time a quick turnaround time for the organization.
3.Easy to update
If you have any addition or update to be included into the micromodules, the shorter development cycle greatly benefits the organisation as they can easily add the required contents and release the updated micro module within a very short time.
Microlearning can be used for both formal and informal training needs as well as on a wide variety of corporate training requirements.
Organisation can use microlearning as an overall learning strategy or can even use it to support the present learning strategies like classroom training or blended learning approach, etc.
8.Why is microlearning gaining momentum?
Some of the reasons why microlearning-based training is gaining momentum are:
1.Increased usage of mobile learning and organizations promoting BYOD policy
2.The flexibility to use them for both formal and informal training needs.
3.It results in higher completion rates.
4.It is perfect for learners with low attention spans.
5.It finds takers in the millennial generation and other learner profiles
9.When should you not use microlearning?
Microlearning may not work in a few situations where the training program at hand is too complex and where it makes more sense to present the training as a single larger learning unit. For such learning topics, I don’t recommend microlearning as a primary learning strategy, but it can be used as a performance support tool or to further reinforce the learning.
10.What does microlearning include?
There is often a lot of confusion around the topic of “What does microlearning include? “.Well it can include:
- Series of short or bite sized lessons with a particular learning objective ultimately supporting a long term goal.
- Self directed and informal learning
- Performance support tools to reinforce learning
What are the formats of microlearning?
Microlearning, yes the small animated videos isn’t it ? …..
This is a strongly grounded myth about microlearning as people associate microlearning more with the short animated videos. But in reality microlearning is much beyond the short animated explainer videos. With the evolution of various learning strategies and techniques, microlearning can use the various formats to include in their micro nuggets.
Let’s see what are the different formats that can be used in microlearning.
2. Small Games
4. Real Videos
6.Ebooks and flipbooks
8.Webcasts and Podcasts
9.Scenarios and Simulations etc..
12 How to design microlearning?
There is no formula or shortcut in designing microlearning. While microlearning is all about chunking down of the learning content to smaller micro nuggets, the organisation cannot randomly cut short the learning modules. The organization should very effectively plan the process. I recommend to have a thorough understanding of the learning topics and then plan accordingly to decide the relevant contents that need to be included in the micro learning modules. It should be ensured that every micro nugget should include a single learning objective .
13.How to calculate the ROI of microlearning?
The L&D department of the various organisation calculates the ROI i.e return on investment in various formats . Here I am describing one such very popular way of calculating ROI
Consider all the elements that incur the cost
For example, consider the costs incurred for
1.Buying or creating third party learning content
2.Investing in a microlearning platform
4.Cost incurred for the human work hours or efforts(for example, the time spend on searching the vendors )
Once all the costs are identified, the organisation can then list down the benefits to arrive at the ROI. The benefits can be both tangible like saving of time, resources, infrastructure etc and intangible like the direct benefit of a microlearning initiative on the performance.
14.How to deliver microlearning?
The small size of the microlearning helps the organisation to easily deliver the learning content to the learners. The organisation can use various effective ways to deliver microlearning like the following-
1.Upload the content to the LMS which supports accessing the content from the desktop as well as mobile devices and helps an organization track the learner’s performance. Almost every modern LMS is enabled with the feature of native mobile apps (apps of the LMS like moodle mobile) to help the learner in accessing the content from the various mobile devices.
2.Third party online e-library
There are various organisation that provide an online elearning library like Dupont for safety training videos or Grovo etc. The users can login and access the content. This becomes very effective for the learners as they can go online and refer to the content anytime and from any device.
3.Social forum and Whatsapp groups etc
With the advancement of technology, there are a lot of social platforms and apps like Linkedin, Whatsapp, Workplace by Facebook etc which are now actively used as both formal and informal channels of training the workforce.
For example, we recently developed a series of animated explainer videos for an organisation in the FMCG industry . The organisation wanted to deliver the micro videos to the salespersons through their official WhatsApp groups.
15.Where can microlearning be applied?
Microlearning can be applied to the following training topics at the workplace:
1.To train the sales team of your organisation.
3.Microlearning can be blended with e-induction or even traditional induction
4.Training the learners on Soft skills
5.Technical training reinforcements
7.Use microlearning for quick reinforcements (for example, using PDF’s, infographics for reference or using an explainer video to create quick reinforcements)
16.What are the future trends in microlearning?
In my view microlearning will definitely define the future trend in elearning. Organisations have actively started to embrace microlearning due to the various advantages it offers for both the learners and the organization .
As the technology is rapidly evolving, microlearning can easily blend with the technological innovations like gamification, social learning as well as augmented and virtual reality etc.