In today’s rapidly changing business environment, your company must continually find ways to distinguish itself from the competition. The digital age has quickly transformed the way we do business. According to the Deloitte 2017 Human Capital Careers and Learning Trends report, the average length of a career is 60 to 70 years. However, the average half-life of a learned skill is only five years, highlighting the need for a faster, efficient form of learning.
The world’s leading companies are turning to human capital investments that help them stand out from the competition and grow faster. Ready access to continuous learning is the trend that allows employers to stand out in the digital age. Data from Glassdoor suggests that Millennials believe the ability to learn and evolve is one of the leading drivers of an employer’s brand. Only a third of Millennials think their employers are using their skills well, and 42% report wanting to leave their jobs because their companies aren’t developing their skills.
Microlearning provides human resources departments and trainers an unprecedented opportunity to attract and retain their industry’s top talent. By leveraging this learning trend, companies can add value to their organization and improve their bottom line.
What Is Microlearning?
At its core, microlearning breaks down the learning process into easily digestible pieces for improved understanding and concept retention. To understand the core of microlearning, think of an Elearning course as an entire pizza. Consuming it all at once is ill-advised, and difficult to digest. Microlearning is more like a slice of that pizza – easy to eat in a few bites. By dividing learning objectives into bite-sized pieces, trainers can ensure that learners don't overload themselves with information.
Microlearning is gaining steam, helped in part by shrinking attention spans. A study from the Microsoft Corporation infamously suggested that humans now have shorter attention spans than goldfish. Talent developers also have to consider the average employee’s hectic schedule and an endless array of distractions. In a world of mobility and multitasking, employees need access to information in accessible chunks. But what exactly qualifies as “accessible?”
A recent study from ATD research found that the ideal length of a microlearning session is 10 minutes, though most talent developers use time periods closer to 13 minutes. By creating lessons in this time frame, employees will learn more, retain concepts, and make e-learning an investment rather than a waste of time and capital.
Microlearning works in virtually in any environment and is helpful for training reinforcement and compliance updates. Organizing information into easy to process segments helps busy employees retain information and keep your business operation running smoothly. Businesses typically pair with a corporate learning management system to keep their goals on track.
The Value of Microlearning
As part of a comprehensive training strategy, microlearning offers a simple, pain-free way to convey valuable information in the workplace. Some content warrants longer, in-depth training sessions, but other information can easily fit into small, consumable “bites.” The benefits include:
- Flexibility. The digital nature of microlearning allows your employees to complete training on their schedule, maximizing productivity.
- Cost efficiency. Digital learning is less expensive, and microlearning follows suit, as it relies on digital tools.
- Better retention. Studies have shown that learners are more likely to retain and use information if they receive it in small bursts.
- Relevance. Your employees all require different skill sets. Microlearning makes it easier to diversify your material, and rapid author lessons keep your workers sharp.
- Accomplishment. We all like the feeling of accomplishment. It's much more satisfying to get through two or three microlessons than half of one e-Learning course. Smaller chunks keep employees motivated to learn more.
Employees are more likely to comply with training when it’s accessible, flexible, and provides a sense of accomplishment. Microlearning with a corporate LMS will help your employees be more productive and engaged in their work, enhancing the health of your entire operation.
Business Outcomes Associated with Microlearning
Employee satisfaction and productivity translate into meaningful business outcomes. With the help of microlearning, your business can improve its bottom line and gain an edge in an increasingly competitive market. Here’s how:
- Microlearning causes less disruption to an employees’ workday. Employees only get the information they need; then they get back to work.
- Employees avoid the “cognitive overload” associated with lengthier courses. Micro training leads to less stress and fatigue, which translates to more productivity.
- An accessible format means completion rates will be higher, building a sense of progress and accomplishment.
- Training is easier to personalize, allowing employees to pick and choose the skills they want to hone. This provides a sense of ownership that makes for more satisfied and motivated employees.
- Compared to traditional courses, microlearning videos cost 50% less and take 300% less time to produce.
- Microlearning allows faster updates to accommodate the ever-evolving trends in your industry.
Your company benefits from having agile and adaptable employees. Microlearning facilitates this process by making training accessible and engaging, while also saving on training time and budget.
Today, many organizations are successfully incorporating microlearning-style training modules into their overall training and development strategies. However, your implementation strategy may affect your employee compliance and engagement with the material. Observe some basic best practices when implementing your microlearning:
1. Develop a Cohesive Strategy.
Before diving into authoring, take time to understand the topic you’re teaching. Go beyond buzzwords and industry jargon, and explain core concepts in the simplest terms. This simplicity helps avoid the excessive cognitive load associated with fatigue and burnout. When you’re working with a shorter time frame, it’s essential to get your point across in the most basic terms possible. Every word counts!
2. Choose Your Content Type
Some of the most common types of microlearning include interactive modules and videos. These are relatively inexpensive to produce and prove to be more engaging than just reading through the material. No matter which format you choose, make sure your lessons have the essential components:
- Title. Your content’s title will be important because it will determine how your employees will approach the training and how they will initially engage with it. Keep it simple: tell your workers what the resource is about and what it will do for them.
- Body. The body of your lesson should have two objectives: give your employees something to think about and something to take with them. A video is helpful in achieving both in a short amount of time.
- An evaluation. How will you know if your training methods are working? Since you’re working with a shorter format, don’t include a quiz that takes as much time as the material itself. Stick to one or two qualitative questions. For example: “did this module give you the information you needed?”
3. Bridge the Gap
Microlearning is an excellent way to supplement your employee training, but it can be difficult for trainers to translate their existing formats into smaller, more digestible versions. Start slowly and think of ways you can use informal learning to aid formal training approaches. For example, trainers often lead a course and offer a 100 slide deck of resources at the end for workers to flip through. Instead of making your employees sift through a large stack of information when they have a question, think ahead and create supplemental modules for common queries.
4. Know The Importance of Evaluation
If you’ve implemented a microlearning program, you’ll want to know it’s working. Some simple ways to assess the efficacy of your training: look at download history and traffic, offer a simple assessment at the end, and monitor at how the outcomes trickle through your business operation.
Case Studies on Microlearning
Microlearning has broad applications and can work in a variety of industries. See how disciplines around the world are using it to improve their outcomes:
1. Improving Physician Education:
Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of heart arrhythmia and one that family physicians often see in practice. Effective treatment is crucial in preventing stroke and other potentially life-threatening complications. A micro-learning initiative helped board-certified family physicians improve their knowledge significantly compared to using traditional teaching methods alone. A facilitator led a three-hour session on atrial fibrillation and reviewed two case studies with physicians, who were then asked to complete 1-3 micro-lessons to enhance their knowledge of the material. Pretest and post-evaluation measures showed that using a combination of these two techniques increased scores an average of 40%.
2. Training Decentralized Employees
Today’s era of globalization means that employees of the same company might not share the same offices. One recycling company used microlearning to target employees across several different locations. By delivering video-based learning to employees, they cut customer service inconsistencies in half in just two weeks.
3. Streamlining the Onboarding Process
Makeup company Mary Kay used microlearning to help consultants develop their micro businesses and thrive under the company model. By teaming with an LMS, Mary Kay was able to track a consultant’s progress in real time and give them all the resources they need, at any time.
4. Driving Veterinary Research
One veterinary research agency trains paraprofessionals to recognize clinical signs of livestock disease, as well as preventive strategies and methods for minimizing symptoms of the disease in question. Training consisted of two-hour long lectures and quizzes. The company found it was difficult for the professionals to retain all of the information in the sessions, so they developed supplemental microlearning lessons. As a result, they reported a drastic difference in test performance.
5. Boosting Customer Service in the Hotel Industry
Intercontinental Hotels Group has facilities located around the world. Given that the employees are decentralized, providing comprehensive training can be difficult. Microlearning helped this mega-company improve customer experience and employee job satisfaction. Learners across five different countries had access to 5,500 lessons, and the company tracked user engagement (which increased every day). As a result, IHG cut their onboarding time from 5 weeks to 2 weeks and increased their evaluation scores, both with new hires and existing employees.
6. Better Learning Retention in the Biomedical Industry
A leading biomedical company had a multi-platform learning and development initiative that wasn’t working out. The learning experience was disparate, and employees struggled to retain all the information they needed to excel in their position. After, partnering with a vendor, the company created 5,000 learning modules for microlearning. A weekly newsletter contained training suggestions, helpful information, and highlights of the modules. Within one month of launch, over half of learners had used the lessons, which had exceeded the company’s expectations. Best of all, they saved $250,000 in training expenses, giving new meaning to the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.”
Microlearning is a valuable asset to trainers and employees alike. To recap:
- Microlearning is accessible, allowing employees to complete training on their schedule.
- Microlearning allows employees to take in lessons based on need and level of interest, increasing motivation.
- Companies who use microlearning are more likely to report posttest gains, enhanced customer satisfaction, and higher knowledge retention rates.
- Using microlearning can help bridge the gap between informal and formal learning by supplementing formal training and education.
- A sense of accomplishment provides employees with intrinsic motivation, which drives satisfaction and productivity
- Cost-efficiency makes microlearning a more attractive alternative to more formal training methods
- Evaluation is essential to determining the efficacy of your programs. Look at download history and traffic as well as qualitative measures like simple survey questions at the end of each module or video.
As attention spans shorten and business demands increase, microlearning offers a valuable solution for training and development. By tailoring education to a specific need, microlearning lets employees hone their skills, becoming agile and versatile members of the workforce. No matter your industry, you can benefit from microlearning. When paired with an LMS such as Torch, microlearning provides fast, actionable training your employees want along with the results you need. Microlearning is here to stay, so get in on it now to improve your competitive edge in the marketplace.
Resources About Microlearning For Business: A Mini Guide
Every business has its training and development goals. To truly tap into the power of microlearning, companies need custom strategies for implementation and usage. Use these resources to learn more about microlearning and how to apply it to your business:
Microlearning can help supplement your formal e-learning material. This article discusses how microlearning modules can help improve the knowledge retention of your e-learning course. Examples include podcasts and interactive games.
Looking for simple, actionable tips that allow your learners to retain information in short bursts? This is a great starting point. Learn how to teach your employees without fear of cognitive overload.
Don’t know how to implement microlearning for your business? This article looks at the three main techniques – video, infographics, and quizzes – and helps you weigh the pros and cons of each.
This wonderful primer from the Society
Still feeling like microlearning is too good to be true? So did this author – until he tried it out for himself. Review this compelling explanation about informal learning and the value it holds for your organization.
A learning management system can help you achieve your microlearning goals. Learn how and what makes for the best corporate LMS.
An infographic can help your learners engage with the material in one visual bite. This helpful tool will show you how to create an infographic and disseminate it to your audience.
Technology, just like skills, has a shorter half-life than it used to. Now you can keep up-to-date on the hottest trends in microlearning and learn how to implement them in your business.
The digital age calls for a new mode of learning. This article discusses conventional models’ underlying learning theory and illustrates how applying current technology can help businesses save money and produce more effective employees.
This article sets the stage for microlearning by comparing it to how we get news and information about the world around us. It also covers more practical considerations, like partnering with vendors to implement microlearning in the workplace.
Trends and Research:
This condensed report offers a wealth of information, from the nature of human capital to our expanding career life. It also illustrates how microlearning can accommodate the digital age with stats and research.
Have you ever felt jetlagged after taking a long e-learning course? That’s called “cognitive overload.” This article highlights current research about learning and how microlearning fills in the gaps.
This article looks at the benefits of microlearning but also offers some caveats. The system may not be able to replace all forms of training in your enterprise but can work as an effective supplement.
This compelling editorial from the New York Times delves into the basics of brain science and the science of forgetting. It provides a compelling basis for the problem microlearning attempts to rectify.
How-tos and Tutorials:
Onboarding can be a lengthy and expensive process. Microlearning can help cut both time and cost associated with new hires. This article provides some tips for getting started.
This article provides a list of in-depth advice regarding microlearning development. For example, it highlights how infographics can help learners retain information about compliance and security.
Want to try microlearning, but don’t know where to start? These five real-world examples will give you the motivation and inspiration you need for getting an LMS for your corporate training.
This video asks employees why microlearning has worked for them. Watch this interesting case study from the famous jewelry company.
How do gamification and microlearning work together to overhaul a company image? This case study will tell you.