Think about the last time you needed to find quick answers to a question or learn a new skill. What did you do? You may have likely browsed through some online resources and found something like a short video that guided you through your exact requirement.
In simple terms, microlearning is pretty much what you did! It is the practice of delivering the right amount of information to help a learner achieve a specific goal during the time of his or her need.
In recent years, L&D teams have increasingly turned to microlearning to meet the learning needs of their employees in real-time. As per a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, microlearning is 17% more efficient in knowledge transfer, as compared to traditional instruction formats.
Overall, microlearning is an effective learning strategy, especially since it is a skills-based approach that delivers learning in small chunks that are highly-focused. Modern learners today lead busy lives with a lot on their platter. However, this does not mean they are against training. In fact, Gen Z is keener and more focused than ever to learn driving their career growth through learning. Modern learners rather prefer learning on-the-go, and at the time of their need — be it ahead of meetings, while travelling, or anytime they are free. The 2021 Learning Trends Report revealed that 61% learners say that a lack of time is the main obstacle to prevents them from learning new skills. Microlearning is the perfect fit to target these small windows of opportunity.
Here’s why microlearning can prove to be an effective L&D strategy:
- Improves Learner Engagement
Learner attention spans can never be the same especially if a course is a longer one. Studies that evaluated attention spans during an hour-long university lecture have shown that after an initial time of relatively higher levels of attention, the performance of students drops off to a low level after as less as 10–12 minutes. This is the reason why microlearning in the form of smaller videos that can increase learner engagement can be effective. Soft skills training courses can be designed to be short and succinct with each course in the under 10-minute range that is focused on skills that learners need the most and in a manner that keeps them engaged.
- Helps Quick Application of Skills
Microlearning helps to seamlessly integrate learning into the daily workflow as employees apply the concepts they learn immediately to their everyday work. For instance, a person who has an important presentation tomorrow might look at the Communication Essentials course today and watch a five-minute video on improving presentation skills. Once the person looks at the video today, he/she will immediately be able to apply the skills learned during the actual real-life scenario presentation the next morning, leading to higher engagement and better retention.
- Offers Learning in a Way Similar to Real-World Situations
As mentioned earlier, most people have the habit of pulling out their smartphones and accessing a ‘how-to’ or a ‘DIY’ video whenever they need to develop skills to solve a particular problem. In such situations, they are engaging in microlearning. As professional and personal lives have become parallel in recent times, employees expect to learn in a similar manner even at work. L&D teams need to impart learning in a way that is most comfortable for learners —with the help of small learning nuggets that contain information in smaller bursts, available through mobile devices and apps, that they can access whenever and wherever they want it or need it.
- Suits Fast-Paced, Busy Lives of Modern Learners
According to a study by the University of California-Irvine, employees generally take up tasks for about 11 minutes before they are interrupted by their phone, email, or a coworker. But during those 11 minutes, they tend to engage in myriad bursts of short tasks that last about 3 minutes. Microlearning makes the most of exactly such time windows, delivering the information employees need to achieve a specific goal in a few minutes. This kind of learning is more suited in these times when workdays are hectic and employees hardly have the time or energy for hour-long training sessions. Compared to more traditional formats, microlearning is much easier to fit into an already hectic workday.
Microlearning is also a very useful tool when it comes to reinforcing learning. It’s a known fact that the more we use information, the more we are likely to remember it for a longer span. The small learning nuggets help to revisit concepts, especially with regards to soft skills training. Since microlearning requires a short amount of time, it’s easier for employees to engage with the training again and again, helping to fortify the knowledge and skills they are acquiring from it.
As the modern workforce adapts to perennial changes, they are likely to continue facing constraints in terms of time to dedicate to learning. Strategies like microlearning fit well to help employees learn at the point of their need and increase their engagement amidst lesser distraction and better retention.