Microlearning is hot. More and more corporate eLearning and training is short-form, on-demand learning. That’s because microlearning offers benefits to everyone involved in learning: the learners themselves, their managers and the L&D (learning and development) teams that create eLearning and other training.
Microlearning might be used to teach new information, improve retention of what employees have learned, provide support in the workflow — or a combination. Statistics from eLearning Industry indicate that about 54% of L&D professionals were creating microlearning in 2015.
In addition, LinkedIn Learning reports a steady increase in the use of mobile learning. That’s probably because 74% of respondents in the 2019 LinkedIn Workplace Learning report want to learn during spare time at work — even though a majority in most age groups also said they lacked the time to do so.
These statistics on microlearning and corporate learning underline the need for microlearning. Key benefits are that microlearning is short, on-demand, accessible and focused. The appeal to busy, knowledge-hungry learners is obvious.
Microlearning advantages include its flexibility and fit with how modern digital consumers learn. But the benefits of microlearning extend to the developers who create it and the managers who need effective learning programs for their employees, too.
Microlearning offers advantages and benefits for content creators and for managers who have to ensure that their employees not only complete their assigned training but actually retain what they’ve learned and apply it on the job. These benefits include:
Learners prefer microlearning over other training for many reasons, including:
They develop a learning habit. Drip delivery means that learners get used to continuous learning, spaced repetition and reinforcement all leading to improved knowledge retention. They develop a cadence — spending 2 minutes on training first thing in the morning or 10 minutes after lunch, every day.
Training is personalized. Rather than clicking through long, detailed courses on stuff they already know — or that is irrelevant to their jobs — learners with top microlearning platforms, like OttoLearn, get only the content that is relevant to their mastery goals, which they set with their managers.
Microlearning is flexible. It’s generally available to learners on demand. And learners can use their smartphone or tablet or learn on their laptop or desktop computer. It can be used as a performance support directly in the workflow. These choices make learning easy and accessible.
It helps them retain what they’ve learned. Learners using an adaptive platform like OttoLearn get different content in each session, but if they have a “knowledge gap,” an area where they are weak, that content shows up more often. This “spaced repetition” helps them retain what they’ve learned, longer, by cementing it into their long-term memory. Many learners forget their annual training soon after they finish it. They can engage with microlearning year-round, a little bit every day, so they remember and review important information.
Learners do not have to schedule training. They have the freedom to decide when and how to engage with learning content.
Microlearning doesn’t disrupt their work. Short micro lessons fit into the workflow, the commute, break time — microlearning meets learners where they are and when they want to learn.
Training is relevant and up-to-date. With some platforms, like OttoLearn® Agile Microlearning™, learners get a steady “drip feed” of content, a little bit every day. When new content is added or material is updated, they’ll start seeing it instantly. That ensures that they are learning what they need to know to do their jobs.
It’s fun. Microlearning can be packaged in interactive ways, like games or chats. Some platforms enable colleagues to compete to earn points or reach mastery goals, adding a bit of friendly competition to routine learning. Microlearning might also show up as quizzes, infographics, games or gamified training content, chatbots, or text. Short learning nuggets using audio, video or multimedia are hugely popular.
Microlearning works because it conforms with how people learn. Some secrets behind leading microlearning solutions and their effectiveness include:
Putting all learners through the same comprehensive eLearning course is not effective or efficient. Learners’ eyes glaze over and they click, click, click through redundant training as quickly as they can. Adaptive content delivers each learner different content, depending on what they need to know and what they already know. This approach ensures that each learner gets relevant content that pushes them to the limits of their knowledge — and expands that knowledge.
Rather than forcing all learners to set aside blocks of time for long training sessions, microlearning offers choices. Learners can choose when and where to do their training. Each training unit is short, so a learner can get through several at once, or choose to finish one or two units when they get a few free moments during a busy day.
Many microlearning solutions use games or apply game mechanics — gamification — to content. These mechanics engage learners by adding elements of competition, points or prizes, immediate feedback, and other elements that make learning fun. Getting learners to pay more attention and stick with training longer means they will remember more of what they have learned — and come back to “play” some more.
Rather than one long session, the key appeal of microlearning is also one of its greatest advantages: multiple short learning sessions. Spaced repetition in learning is well-known as a tool that enhances learning and knowledge retention. The repetition over time keeps information in learners’ short-term memories longer and helps them move that information into their long-term memories (and keep it there).
These secrets are based in cognitive science. The science of microlearning uses principles that have been proven over generations of learning. Microlearning owes much of its effectiveness to innovative use of these and other proven approaches to training.
It’s no surprise that use of microlearning continues to trend upward. Learners and managers alike see the benefits and appeal. Microlearning works!