According to a study in Time, the average human attention span is currently around 8 seconds. This value is slated to fall even further, thanks to screens that never turn off and increased caffeine intake, among other factors. Reading books is now an almost archaic habit – with audiobooks taking the center stage of written content consumption.
The trend also signifies a large decline in the learning capacity of the human brain. Content creators and educators are faced with the issue of connecting to learners and efficiently capturing and retaining their attention. The bigger problem, however, is that learners tend to forget the dissipated information. Retention of knowledge is a hard challenge to overcome, but one that is crucial to ensure the progression of eLearning. At VP Legacies, we know the value of personal connection for keeping your employees happy and engaged with your company. Here’s how microlearning can help.
What is Microlearning?
The eLlearning sphere is currently dominated by microlearning, an education innovation that is here to stay. Microlearning is a type of focused training/learning method that doles out short bursts of specific content. The content is typically delivered in the form of small eLearning units, short-term activities, and easily digestible, object-oriented media. The units are designed to help users/ learners grasp and remember vast topics in tiny chunks. The lessons are dealt out in 5 – to 10-minute modules and focus on building specific on-the-job skills at the user’s convenience.
The core principle behind microlearning is the efficient consumption of skill-based eLearning material without overburdening the user. Instead of providing the learner with a bulk of eearning material, and overwhelming them in the process, microlearning concentrates on micro-perspectives and practical contexts. Microlearning is in great demand across corporate settings and other mediated environments. Workplace training modules like software platform initiations and workflow processes can be easily administered through microlearning – and with proven success.
Training content can take many forms and is usually designed to suit a company’s work style. Typical microlearning content includes interactive media forms like short videos, powerful images/ illustrations, infographics, eBooks, other on-screen text, audio snippets, music tracks, single-screen games and quizzes, simple activities, and multiple-choice tests. The content is highly personalized and target aptitude and application-based facets of the skill in question.
Advantages of Microlearning
The goal of microlearning is to communicate the outcome in the simplest way possible. eLearning methods that are off the beaten path tend to stay in the memory for longer periods, while also creating sufficient engagement from the learner. Modern corporate workers are strapped for time and microlearning is the perfect way to create interest in training modules.
When learners study in short bursts over being forced to sit through hours of droning material, their brains engage with the content easily. This interest also carries forward to future training modules. The best-designed microlearning modules simulate the rewarding emotion of checking social media/ game apps on one’s cell phone, as opposed to prepping for an exam. As a result, you create engagement by connecting with learners on a more personal level.
Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness
Streamlined content means less production time and cost. As the content delivered in micro eLearning is trimmed to the fullest extent, writers and developers can produce hundreds of modules in hours. This isn’t just efficient, it also allows the training material to constantly evolve to match changing trends and training requirements.
Since microlearning does not always require special premium tools, it cuts costs down further. Efficiency in production is one benefit, but efficiency in consumption is yet another. Users can even undergo microlearning on their smartphones on their commute to and from work. The variety offered by microlearning modalities allows workers to absorb, retain, and apply knowledge much more effectively and efficiently.
Flexibility and personalization is a huge part of microlearning. Learner motivation and interest in finishing more modules naturally stem from the autonomy and modality offered by microlearning. Bulky online courses are not ideal for learners on the go. Microlearning courses are small in size, and can even be downloaded and used when the user is offline.
These courses also allow trainers a certain amount of flexibility in terms of usage. Microlearning modules can be used as components of larger, organization-wide training drives or as performance support. Depending on the company’s workflow, these courses can also be used as communication tools.
Authentic personal connections within the workplace are crucial for training purposes, as well as maintaining an overall healthy work environment. On the surface, microlearning may appear to disconnect or disassociate workers from one another. Employees glued to their screens while finishing modules might not be the best communication instigator. However, continued implementation of microlearning modules can prove to be beneficial when it comes to personal connections. It gives employees talking points and, unlike longer training modules, allows them to stay in touch with methods of internal communication while completing microlearning lessons.
Microlearning modules are designed with specific criteria in mind. When the gamut of multimedia material hits the training floors, employees are more engaged and reach out to each other in order to learn more. Natural curiosity, coupled with a positive ‘let’s go get it’ attitude (stemming from micro-assessments and quizzes) can boost team performance by bounds and leaps.
Collaborative modules can also serve to increase effective and productive communication among employees. Certain microlearning activities designed for teams can also increase levels of trust and codependency. When a group of colleagues watches a bunch of short videos together, they are more likely to have in-depth conversations about the topics involved.
High-quality microlearning content incorporates elements of relevant pop culture media to increase engagement. GIFs, well-produced short videos with comedic relief, and eye-catching infographics aren’t just boosting engagement and retention. They also serve the important purpose of binding the mutual interests of workers and bringing them together on a common basis – a shared interest in learning. As communication tools, microlearning modules can also be used as ice-breakers.
Related: 10 Best eLearning Tools Online
Disadvantages of Microlearning
For subjects that require in-depth training and exploration, microlearning might not be the best fit. Some software or processes require several months of training just to grasp the basics. The trade-off between short, interactive modules versus lengthy, in-depth write-ups cannot be justified, especially if employees are falling short of the mark.
For example, take the American Revolution. It’s possible to learn the timeline of events, the causes, and the outcomes of the revolution using microlearning tactics like short videos and images. However, in order to understand the underlying intricacies, motives, political underpinnings, and cultural impacts, microlearning is not quite the right option.
Nevertheless, microlearning can be a great companion tool for in-depth training methods. Microlearning can help reinforce what employees learn in other training modules. They can also target more hands-on skills that will help employees put more abstract ideas into practice.
Bite-sized courses are the best option for a surface level understanding of most concepts. But this mode of eLearning cannot always ensure to translate the complexity of all topics in an effective manner. Microlearning isn’t always suited for subjects that require a lot of patience and content that cannot be boiled down to cue cards.
Sometimes it’s necessary for the workers to plow through large bodies of well-researched material in order to gain a better understanding of the concept. Extensive comprehension is not always the same as immediate understanding and retention. For example, it’s possible to learn Mandarin for a trip to China using audio snippets and images.
This would provide the required outcome, where the employees can communicate effectively in a corporate setting with a few key catchphrases. However, if an employee is to be permanently reassigned to China, they will have to study the language in great detail in order to get by. Microlearning can’t help here, tedious study and preparation will.
Once again, micro-learning can be a great reinforcing tool for longer training methods. To use the example above, textbooks and long lesson plans aren’t enough to learn a language. Short quizzes and other microlearning tools help people practice what they’ve learned as they go along.
Microlearning Strategies and Guidelines
Organizations have to keep in mind certain factors before implementing a brand new microlearning module. The first and foremost factor is to keep the audiences in mind while crafting content. While some users thrive off the streamlined model, others might not take to it so quickly. Identify what kind of groups are present within the organization and design modules accordingly. Analyze previous eLearning efforts in-depth and understand how it was assimilated, and what strategy was most effective.
Several employees and even executives might not be aware of what microlearning is exactly. It’s important to run a company-wide awareness program beforehand to build a strong business case. Whether the microlearning modules are a viable strategy is an important decision to make. Involve peers, key stakeholders, and management in the process.
Many times, microlearning could prove to be a huge shift in the existing method of learning (specifically eLearning) within an organization and requires a fundamental change of mindset. Assess the existing content and find ways to leverage available expertise. Don’t throw old playbooks out the window completely. It’s important to ease into the process by merging characteristics of both traditional and modern strategies.
Always design modules with ease-of-access, internal communication best practices, and deployment strategies in mind.
How Gradual Microlearning Creates Engaged Communication
Microlearning achieves efficiency, versatility, and personal connection by allowing employees to incorporate and implement new skills as they learn them. As a result, this training strategy improves knowledge retention and helps employees feel engaged with your company while learning valuable skills for their professional career.
Not only is microlearning efficient, but the short time span of each module means that it can easily be incorporated into your ongoing learning plan. It’s easy to implement and engaging for employees, giving them the opportunity to ask questions as they complete new modules over time and converse with each other about shared courses. It can even be used to drive home complex concepts and give employees the chance to practice and discuss specific skills that are part of a broader learning plan.Get started with microlearning by finding out more about VP Legacies.
Ready to help your employees grow professionally? Check out Custom eLearning Development with VP Legacies.