Microlearning is a fast-growing educational trend that’s being adopted by schools, colleges, and corporate offices worldwide. Keep reading to find out more about what this means and why microlearning is the future of training in the workplace.

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What is microlearning?

Microlearning is a relatively new approach to skills-based education. It involves studying bite-sized modules in small bursts to maximize learner engagement, promote a better understanding of course materials, and boost information retention.

The most instantly recognizable form of microlearning is the eLearning video, which combines visual and auditory stimuli to convey information. Researchers working with the online course provider, edX, which was set up by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, have found that the optimal length for an eLearning video is six minutes. After that time, student engagement with the course subject drops off.

Other forms of microlearning include written, visual, and audio content, online tests and quizzes, and immersive learning games. Furthermore, new trends are emerging in this rapidly expanding sector all the time. As of 2021, we are starting to see technologies such as virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) being used to create interactive microlearning experiences as well.

Why microlearning is the future of training in the workplace

1. It’s more efficient.

Microlearning modules are targeted and precise, designed to cover all the essential information but no more within a highly condensed time frame. When all the extraneous details (interesting, but not necessarily useful!) are removed, learners are more likely to remember the key points of the lesson.

In fact, Shift Learning has found that knowledge transfer is 17% more effective when companies use microlearning, and findings by RPS Research suggest that microlearning boosts long-term retention by up to 80%. In this way, it can be used as a standalone method of delivering training or as a supplement to the main event to reinforce the key information learned on any course.

2. Microlearning reduces development costs while improving the speed of development.

Because of their virtual nature, microlearning courses are a more cost-effective way of delivering training to your employees. eLearning videos, for example, eliminate the need to hire an instructor, rent a classroom, or buy equipment. There’s also that old saying in business, “Time is money” (Benjamin Franklin). Because microlearning modules are so short, they help you save on both!

You should expect to invest some money in microlearning, but learning architect Dr. Ray Jimenez, author of “3-minute eLearning”, estimates that microlearning can cut development expenditures by 50%. Not only this, but thanks to its efficiency, microlearning can also increase the speed of development by up to 300%, making it a win-win solution for businesses.

3. Microlearning supports just-in-time learning.

Just-in-time (JIT) learning gives employees access to the information they need when and how they need it. It’s becoming increasingly popular with both learners and learning and development professionals thanks to its flexible delivery methods. By combining microlearning with this approach, the personnel responsible for L&D at your firm will be able to create a digital infrastructure of bite-sized modules that can be accessed from anywhere, allowing you to take control of your own professional development.

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4. It’s mobile-friendly.

As we move towards digitalization in almost all aspects of our lives and adapt to the new style of working necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, mobile flexibility and the ability to get things done on the go are becoming increasingly attractive to employees.

This is partly due to our exposure to short, accessible forms of media like TikTok videos, which have shrunk our collective attention span. Think about it. How many times have you found yourself on your phone or tablet while trying to do something else, even just watching television?

Many employees consider additional training to be a chore, something else they have to make time for in their already busy schedules. But if they can fit it in around other things, you are likely to see an increase in the number of people completing the course.

Short bursts of auditory content that can be absorbed quickly, like a podcast on a daily commute, are going down well in this regard. That said, if you can add an element of gamification to your microlearning, even better! Research shows that by giving learners the opportunity to play a game during a training course, employees will be 100% more willing to participate in training.

5. It is preferred by both learners and Learning & Development professionals.

A Shift Learning survey revealed that more than 50% of respondents would engage more with training opportunities if courses were shorter and snappier. Longer courses put them off because they found the information harder to digest and remember. Plus, they disrupt their daily work schedule, meaning that, in some cases, they have to work longer hours in order to catch up. 

94% of learning and development professionals said they, too, prefer microlearning to long-form eLearning courses. This means we can expect to see a significant rise in the number of corporate microlearning courses on offer in the future.

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Thinking about creating your own?

Here are our top three tips on how to create engaging microlearning content for your employees:

  • Make your videos short and accessible. Think about the kinds of content you always see on social media. Utilize both visual and auditory stimuli to deliver bite-sized chunks of information in videos your audience can watch and listen to on the go.
  • If you are delivering an entire course through microlearning, focus on one or two subjects, and try to keep your audience engaged from start to finish. Remember: your videos should be no more than six minutes long, and each module should be standalone and able to be studied independently of the rest of the modules in the series.
  • Don’t overwhelm your audience! They are looking for just-in-time solutions, so only give them the information they need to know. This has the added benefit of making your key points easier to remember.
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