Microlearning is transforming the e-learning landscape, offering a wide range of benefits for both learners and organizations. Haven’t tried it yet? Now is the perfect time to explore the advantages and effectiveness of microlearning.
What is microlearning?
Microlearning is an educational strategy, often based on technology-enhanced methods of teaching and training to deliver high-impact learning experiences. At the core of microlearning lies breaking down complex topics into digestible chunks (learning modules) and presenting them in easy to understand and memorable way.
Another important feature of the microlearning method is spaced repetition – microlearning achieves its educational goals by exposing the participants to the new material multiple times, helping them transfer knowledge from short-term to long-term memory.
Undoubtedly you have been exposed to microlearning methods before without knowing it. For instance, a lot of language learning apps use microlearning to help their users memorize new vocabulary by offering, say, five new words a day and encouraging them to repeat those words over the next few days.
At eggheads, we use a well-known communication form, a chat, to carry out a quick learning session (learn more about conversational microlearning). It’s not an unusual thing: microlearning has been prevalent in digital environments as it taps into limited attention span and enables learners to effortlessly incorporate learning activities into their daily routines. Without making it feel like learning. But the most important thing for us was to meet learners where they are – and who doesn’t use messaging apps?
Traditional Training vs. Benefits of Microlearning
The working environment is irrevocably linked to learning. Whether we’re a small arts-and-crafts company or a global pharmaceutical corporation, we all need to focus on upskilling our workforce. Be it new sales techniques, changes in tax regulations, or updated business goals, workplace learning is one of the core elements of everyday professional lives and if done correctly, can have an excellent impact on productivity, employee satisfaction and retention rates. Competencies translate into confidence after all.
For the longest time, traditional methods of employee training took the form of lengthy (and costly!) classroom training, workshops, and seminars filled with presentations, jazzed up here and there with a few practical exercises, which lack the efficiency and engagement benefits of microlearning. Overall, such training was more likely to result in painful backs and caffeine overdose rather than improved skills. Cramming knowledge at once-only events is doomed from the outset: our brains are not built to immediately absorb and store large quantities of new information in long-term memory. In the end, it takes a while before we are actually able to use the new skills in our work life – and then, such knowledge is largely outdated.
Microlearning as a new instructional strategy
The Covid-19 pandemic truly revolutionized contemporary modes of work. Starting from how private and public spheres of our lives blend now through Zoom calls, through shifts in dress codes, to how and what we learn and how we spend the time we save on commuting, the change has been immense. Without a doubt, technology played a major role in it; and with the rise of more refined communication technologies, we have become more globally connected and suddenly found ourselves in need of more transferable skills. At the same time, an increased pace of work means we need to stay on top of more projects and tasks simultaneously than before.
One of the key benefits of microlearning is its ability to tackle most of those challenges the old-fashioned training has fallen on: its short, quick-paced lessons available on mobile devices anywhere and anytime, deliver the necessary knowledge on the go. It’s worth noting that microlearning doesn’t have to exist in isolation; it can be a complementary part of a blended learning strategy that incorporates traditional training methods for a more holistic learning experience.
Benefits of microlearning
There are many benefits to microlearning but we’re going to focus on a few we consider key for contemporary employees. First and foremost, microlearning significantly improves our knowledge retention rates. What does it mean? In simple terms, it means that we’re able to remember more things even after a longer period. Spaced repetition, a flagship method employed in microlearning, exposes you to the same small chunk of information over and over again until it gets transferred from short-term to long-term memory. We don’t have to remember about revising though – the microlearning program remembers it for us.
Microlearning methods, usually utilizing mobile devices, are proven to create more engagement among learners. Usually, the courses involve interactive material or methods such as quizzes, games, or conversation which not only capture the attention but allow the learner to become part of the learning experience (much like inverted classroom methods). Along the same lines, microlearning employs a fundamentally personalized approach to learning by using knowledge testing techniques, delivering material to personal devices, and creating an individual learning journey.
Updates are made easy with microlearning
Microlearning courses are quick and easy to create and update as needed, offering a just-in-time learning experience. Microlearning is fit for creating materials on-demand, ready to deploy and implement among the teams, thus it also improves accessibility to knowledge. It’s time to say goodbye to PowerPoint presentations, 45-minute-long classes, and ramming through 300-page books. The messages are bite-size, playful, and to the point making them easy to understand and put into action. Thanks to the simplicity of the e-learning systems and automation of many creative processes, preparing learning materials has never been easier – and many platforms offer ready-made courses covering subjects that are core to particular industries such as data privacy (we have one, interested?). As such, microlearning solutions are inherently cost-effective and time-saving.
What about the downsides?
Does microlearning have any downsides? Sure, we can name a few limitations microlearning has been struggling with and show ways to circumvent them. For instance, microlearning might not be suitable for complex subjects that require gaining the in-depth knowledge. The format simply doesn’t allow enough space for it and would not bring good effect. Its best use cases are simple yet important subjects that need repetition. Experts say that staying on top of microlearning classes requires self-discipline many people tend to lack. The solution employed here has been push notifications that nudge the user to complete a class and set up deadlines for completing tasks. At the same time, it’s important to implement evaluation methods at the end of the learning cycle allowing the learner to gain an overview of what they’ve learned.
Microlearning has proven to be extremely effective when it comes to producing on-point, timely, and actionable learning content. Microlearning meets the learners where they are: on the screens of their smartphones or tablets and takes over the responsibility for keeping up the pace. Thanks to its interactive methods, microlearning engages the learner and creates a personalized learning journey. It’s cost-effective, and easy to produce, update, and release, making staying on top of the latest regulations an easy job. The clear benefits of microlearning make this approach to digital learning an essential part of every company’s training. Why not try it for yourself? Why not try it for yourself?