Microlearning Trends Toward Bright Future

A look at microlearning trends from 2018 and 2019 shows that microlearning is moving from a novelty to an essential element of any training and knowledge retention strategy. In 2018, microlearning was a buzzword, but not everyone was sure of how to use it or what the impact of microlearning would be. By 2019, though, microlearning had demonstrated effectiveness and ability to engage learners and improve results. The future of microlearning appears to be continued growth and success.

Microlearning trends: 2018

In 2018, microlearning was coming into its own. More companies were using it: Some used it to support longer eLearning courses or instructor-led training by adding resources and exercises in micro formats. Others used microlearning as standalone training. 

Summaries of 2018 microlearning trends tend to focus on format — what counts as microlearning and whether microlearning had to be video.

While no single, authoritative definition of microlearning exists, there is consensus that it is:

  • Short,
  • Narrowly focused and
  • Immediately useful

Microlearning content answers a question or solves a problem. It’s generally agreed that microlearning must be available on mobile devices and on-demand. And that microlearning content is not always video.

By 2018, many eLearning designers and developers were including PDFs, eBooks, infographics — especially if they were interactive — whiteboard animations and apps of many stripes under the microlearning umbrella. 

Microlearning using apps, chatbots and even simple question-and-answer formats would, many bloggers and eLearning experts argued, benefit from some gamification, which could boost learner engagement. This could increase the impact of the microlearning by getting learners to engage longer and more often with their training materials. 

Microlearning trends: 2019

In 2019, the focus has broadened. Microlearning has proven itself to be useful and engaging and to have a measurable impact on key performance metrics. Microlearning offers benefits to all stakeholders.

  • Learners do it voluntarily, often going beyond assigned training to learn extra material or voluntarily review content. 
  • Managers can see the engagement and the on-the-job results. They can also easily assign different content to each of their direct reports, based on what each person needs to know.
  • L&D teams are discovering that microlearning is less expensive to create and can be deployed more quickly than conventional eLearning. It’s also easier to update and expand. 

Current microlearning trends and predictions highlight the multimedia format of microlearning, focus on where and how to use it or emphasize how microlearning teams up with emerging and solidifying technologies to produce sophisticated learning tools.

No longer a novelty

A series of novelty joke items on a sky blue background; three finger traps, a set of wind-up teeth, a whoopee cushion, and Groucho glasses.

Microlearning has become a full-fledged member of the eLearning toolkit. Its proven impact on engagement and retention means that microlearning has been welcomed into nearly all areas of training. It’s used for formal training, knowledge retention campaigns and informal learning activities. 

Microlearning platforms hold their own in teaching complex topics. They also support longer-form eLearning and instructor-led training. Microlearning offers a way to provide exercises, review materials, pre- and post-training quizzes, supplementary materials, and interactive activities that enhance longer eLearning or face-to-face courses.

By moving learning into the workflow, microlearning has proven its value as performance support or job aid, to reinforce and refresh training or to offer learning in the workflow. In this  role, microlearning excels at supplying employees at all levels of all industries with the information they need at the moment they need it. 

Microlearning job aids can be static infographics or short text nuggets. Or they can be interactive activities that refresh employees’ memories. The key is that employees can quickly find the specific information they need, within their work environment. This keeps them focused on their jobs and avoids the hassle of scheduling training, then leaving work to do it.

Beyond its training impact, microlearning can improve team collaboration and dynamics. Microlearning tools support content curation, collaborative learning and even social learning, where colleagues use chatbots, text-based microlearning and more to learn and share information. Gamified microlearning solutions pit coworkers and teams against one another in friendly competition to master the content, earn points and win prizes. Everyone wins in the end — by learning about new products and services more quickly than they would with conventional eLearning courses.

Future of microlearning: leverage evolving technologies

Artificial intelligence (AI) powers the future of microlearning. Many of the most engaging and effective features of microlearning already use AI to adapt and personalize the learning experience. 

AI is constantly improving, especially functions like voice-driven search and the ability to have natural-feeling conversations with chatbots and virtual assistants. The future of microlearning is tied to this trend. MIcrolearning trends show that more microlearning platforms are adopting these new and evolving technologies. Continuing established trends, microlearning will appear in new formats and with enhanced features that magnify its impact and effectiveness. 

Learners long ago lost patience with redundant and repetitive training. Microlearning tackles this problem head-on by deploying the training with spaced repetition. It uses algorithms that can track what learners know and how they’re performing. The microlearning platform can then tailor or adapt the content delivered to each learner to what that learner needs to master. 

This adaptive learning means no more one-size-bores-all eLearning. By pushing each learner to the edge of their knowledge, a modern adaptive microlearning solution increases its impact and keeps learners engaged. It also ensures that they spend their limited training time on the content that matters most — to them.

Other AI elements bring consumer trends toward greater personalization to microlearning solutions. For instance, much microlearning is flexible and gives learners control over what devices they use for learning — smartphones, tablets or laptops. Most microlearning platforms offer on-demand availability, supporting learners at any time and in any location.. This flexibility uses cloud computing to ensure access for learners and workers who are always on the go.

On some microlearning platforms, learners might be able to choose among several media options, such as audio, video, text, or infographic content. They can play learning games or search for reference content. Many platforms allow learners to design their own custom learning paths by stringing together the modules and topics most relevant to their job roles. They can work with their managers to identify and fill skills and knowledge gaps with unique personal learning paths. 

The result is to provide each learner a tailored experience that covers the material they need to learn in the way they want to learn it.

Connecting training to performance

Close-up of shiny silver link chains

Gathering data about learning, learners and performance is a growing trend, whether in companies, colleges and universities, or K-12 education. Many microlearning platforms further this trend by including sophisticated built-in analytics and business intelligence tools. 

It’s no longer enough for L&D teams or managers to know who is completing training or how much time they spent. Managers now know that completions and quiz scores tell them little or nothing about how training will impact their employees’ job performance.

Instead, modern microlearning platforms measure how much learners know and how long they remember or retain that knowledge. Some microlearning tools, like OttoLearn, can also measure and track progress toward specific, individualized goals. 

Learners and managers can use the instant feedback they get during training to figure out how they are doing and what they need to work on. The speed at which both learners and their managers can get information on their performance and progress makes it easy to decide what to spend time learning. This increases the impact of microlearning as well as its appeal.

Giving learners the content they need to study and cutting out the material they already know well helps them make faster progress toward their learning goals. It also avoids a common problem in corporate training — redundant or irrelevant training content that frustrates learners and makes them avoid training. 

Integrated with an LMS and other platforms, microlearning plays a key role in measuring how training impacts performance on the job — and how that performance in turn impacts key performance benchmarks that matter to the organization. 

The future looks bright

Microlearning trends indicate that it will continue to evolve. Microlearning is likely to capture an increasing share of training content and time. 

Future microlearning trends could see growing use of interactive and immersive experiences, such as augmented and virtual reality micro lessons, as well as increased use of interactive videos, gamification, and infographics. 

As the impact and effectiveness of microlearning becomes clearer to C-suite executives, L&D teams are likely to see demand grow — and, along with it, pressure to innovate and devise new ways to engage learners as they continue to drive results.

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