With shorter attention spans and the rapid growth of social media, people now have less bandwidth for reading informative content, much less studying them in detail. Millennials especially face this challenge as they had their first brush with education through technology. Cell phones and tablets were given to many of them early, exposing them to a world we didn’t know much about when we were kids. While their “options” for learning and development had opened up, they preferred investing less time in reading content. Instead, they looked for quicker, more convenient routes to acquiring knowledge.
In the context of professional environments, we prefer modes of learning that simplify and streamline the process. After all, the most effective way to learn new skills is by using training methods that are seamless and non-intrusive. This is where microlearning comes into play. It plays a pivotal role in ensuring employees stay up-to-date with new learnings that put them ahead of their game. Microlearning, which employs scientifically proven techniques, is useful in engaging employees with complex information and helping them overcome learning hurdles.
This article will explore how organizations harness microlearning principles to provide employees with learning and development programs that help build their long-term knowledge and fuel their success for the coming years.
Microlearning: A Brief Introduction
On first starting in a role, employees may need macro learning. While intensive training sessions led by company instructors can help onboarding, they are not impactful once employees have eased into the system. This is because they will have already learned the core job skills and may not think investing extended periods in updating their knowledge is fruitful. Unless a topic is new and challenging, employees are less likely to invest time and effort in learning something new. This is where microlearning training programs come in handy.
Microlearning is an up-and-coming training concept that offers learning in bite-sized portions. Rather than long, deep-dive courses covering multiple topics, microlearning uses concise lessons and interactive learning activities so that learners can take a call on what, when, and how much they want to learn.
Research has shown that microlearning boosts employee focus and engagement by almost 80%. This, in turn, can be attributed to the fact that a short microlearning course has a completion rate of about 83% compared to just a 30% rate of traditional training programs. This means microlearning successfully fills the learning gaps, especially in digital skills, and helps employees see small learnings as a job benefit and a convenient way to grow in their fields.
The Science Behind Microlearning: Why It Works
Microlearning is a learning method supported by psychology and neuroscience. It derives from the understanding that the mind reacts quickly and efficiently to small nuggets of information. While we may have trained our brains to process snippets of information more readily through our incessant use of social media, the science of microlearning is slightly more complex than that.
When you repeat something, it better imprints the message on your mind. This is what makes repetition an effective learning strategy. Lessons repeated over time or at intervals help learners fully grasp and embed information in long-term memory, meaning a person can remember information for extended periods. Chunking of information, a proven psychological technique, can make learning longer lasting. Microlearning does just that; breaking down complex subjects into smaller, easy-to-digest chunks to deliver reinforcement and better recall of information.
Retrieval is the practice of gathering information from the recesses of your mind. It is even more effective than repetition as it promotes long-term retention. With microlearning, you can create learning opportunities where employees are encouraged to partake in activities like quizzes to recall information that would otherwise only become passive knowledge.
Ensuring the learner is confident about their learning is also very necessary. Through periodic assessments, you can evaluate the correctness of knowledge gained by your employees. Assessments are designed to boost retention and minimize confidence issues in learners. Hence these can be valuable tools to gauge employee performance. By incorporating learning into daily schedules, organizations help build confidence in employees.
Interleaving refers to the sequential learning of related skills or concepts instead of being singularly focused on only one skill or concept at a time. Approaching learning like this enables learners to mimic real-world applications of concepts that might be required, enhancing their long-term memory.
Microlearning also allows for customizing daily learning experiences to offer diverse learning styles to different people. Since microlearning relies on varied learning and development materials, such as videos, flashcards, quizzes, and gamified interactive content, employees can choose the medium they identify with the most. This maintains their motivation levels and offers a sense of accomplishment each time they finish learning a new skill. Feeling rewarded goes a long way toward building employee confidence.
Microlearning isn’t random, and our chosen techniques are also not random. There is solid scientific reasoning behind this learning method that is also supported by empirical research. So, the factors mentioned above are anything but random. Many academic institutions and organizations these days are turning to microlearning for the simple reason that it promotes learning and doesn’t restrict it. From streamlining information learning to enable learners to retain the knowledge gained, microlearning will transform how people interact with learning.