Microlearning Benefits Developers, Managers, and Learners

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 benefits managers and developers

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:

  • Developers can create and deploy content quickly, saving time and money when compared with creating conventional eLearning courses. For example, it’s possible to deploy a basic OttoLearn Agile Microlearning platform in a day or two (if you have your content ready; developing even a basic prototype for an eLearning course generally takes much longer.
  • It’s easier to update content. Many companies update key eLearning courses, like annual compliance training, once a year. That means that learners might be using outdated or inaccurate training materials for many months, even when the developers know there are mistakes in the training. Some microlearning platforms allow for instant updates and additions to content, so learners get the latest and best content right away.
  • Many microlearning platforms offer sophisticated analytics and learner tracking. Developers and managers can find out far more than how much time each learner spent in the course or what their quiz scores were. Managers can track use, accuracy and more, and compare learners’ results across departments or over time or in different regions or store locations. 
  • Some microlearning platforms can provide each learner different, targeted content based on the learners’ performance. That means that managers can look at the data, see where each employee’s weak areas are and ensure that each learner gets the training they need.

Learners love microlearning

A smiling young business man in a light blue button-up shirt and black tie, with a grey watch on his left wrist. His  hands are in front of him, fingers bent and touching in a way that forms a heart.

Learners prefer microlearning over other training for many reasons, including:

Habit

They develop a learning habit. Drip delivery means that learners get used to continuous learning and reinforcement. They develop a cadence — spending 2 minutes on training first thing in the morning or 10 minutes after lunch, every day.

Personalization

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.

Flexibility

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. These choices make learning easy and accessible. 

Retention

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.

Autonomy

Learners do not have to schedule training. They have the freedom to decide when and how to engage with learning content.

Adaptability

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.

Relevance

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

Fun

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, chatbots, or text. Short learning nuggets using audio, video or multimedia are hugely popular.

The secrets behind microlearning’s effectiveness

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Microlearning works because it conforms with how people learn. Some secrets behind leading microlearning solutions and their effectiveness include:

Adaptive content

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.

Learner control

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.

Game mechanics

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.

Spaced learning

Rather than one long session, the key appeal of microlearning is also one of its greatest advantages: multiple short learning sessions. Spaced learning and repetition are well-known tools that enhance learning 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!

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