In an epoch of dwindling attention spans just as low as 8 seconds for humans (even lower than a goldfish), concepts of learning has is being re-engineered. In fact, once the span hits the button of 60-120 minute range, the alertness level drops completely. And then there’s another element added known as the ‘Forgetting curve’ (by Hermann Ebbinghaus) which postulates that humans forget nearly 80% of what they learn in 30 days if there is no reinforcement. In such a stage, how do you cope up with these intrinsic challenges when it comes to learning in an organizational context?
Thanks to the concept of micro-learning, we have finally found an escape route for the time being. Let’s understand what is micro-learning?
To simplistically put, microlearning can be referred to as short learning nuggets that a learner usually complete between 2 to 5 minutes to achieve a specific learning objective. This is based on the belief that people acquire new skills better in small chunks.
This mode of micro bite learning is being used for both formal and informal learning. It’s an action-oriented approach of offering bite-sized learning that gets learners to learn, act, and practice. These are short training nuggets that address a specific learning outcome. However, micro-learning is not just breaking down a 20-hours training into small pieces. You need to create nuggets keeping in mind the larger learning objective and then drill down further at micro levels.
L&D and businesses are trying to define and give a coherent shape to micro-learning. Some of the forms of micro-learning are:
- Listening to a podcast
- Viewing a flashcard
- Answering a quiz
- Playing micro-games
- Watching Video
- Engaging in Tweet chats
- Interaction via Simulation
- Using Infographics
Microlearning programs are being used by many organizations. Walmart leveraged this concept for enhancing employee knowledge and retention regarding safety practices. They used gamification to measure the impact both at individual level as well as peer level. At InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), such bite-sized trainings are working well for their customer service representatives and their on-boarding time had drastically reduced from five weeks to just two weeks. And the employees are happy fetching better scores on the acquired knowledge post the tests. In fact, many banking products are based on microlearning concept. Also, various wellness companies are using it for their customers by creating bite sized short courses for training their staff on basics of healthcare and nutrition.
This concept has high impact in an organizational learning context and brings in quick wins in some of these common areas:
- New product feature training
- Employee On-boarding
- Training sales force on specific services
- Capsules to Trigger behavioral change
- Process training
- Other short courses on various training topics
Microlearning provides distributed and contextualized learning. It deconstructs complex topics and concepts and is effective in a blended learning solution. Some of the direct benefits of using microlearning are:
- Better Learner Engagement
Targeted learning makes it easier for the learner to remain engaged. Through microlearning, shorter courses with crisp, rich content are deployed; thereby increasing learner engagement and they don’t experience the fatigue factor of going through longer courses.
- Easy digestible nuggets
With small chunks, the lessons are intended for a narrow, but specific outcome that results in better absorption. Hence, they help to create a high impact as learners get to digest exactly what they need that are easy understood and then retained further.
In this concept, there is no extra fluff to make the course lengthier than needed. And as the content is produced in small quantities, the production cost is reasonably not high. Though adequate time, resources and money need to be fuelled during the initiation of the process, the long-term cost associated with training drops significantly.
- Faster Development And Easy Deployment
Thanks to technology, microlearning courses are faster to develop and deploy; and can easily be updated or revised when required. To make it happen, organizations need to engage the right kind of talent to develop these short modules by using easy-to-comprehend templates, easily accessed image libraries and rapid authoring tools.
- Easier Accessibility
The content is shared as podcasts or as online posts or via multimedia videos and in some cases even as chat sessions. High mobility and accessibility helps learners to look up to courses on-the-go; be it waiting at the bus stop or sitting in a restaurant or in the field. And these can be referred back at the learner’s discretion.
To sum up, organizations are gradually drifting away from traditional learning curriculum and embracing micro learning as it draws on cognitive framework based on natural attention span of humans. Various microlearning assets such as videos, mobile apps, infographics, games, quizzes, or whiteboard animations are all designed to meet the mandates of knowledge acquisition, application, and behavioral change. Perhaps the easiest way to get started is to pull out critical learning points from your already existing content and make them standalone mini-courses. This will provide you with actionable feedback as to what is useful going forward. Whether your goal is to retrain people, streamline the management process or ensure a level of up-skilling; micro-learning can help make a difference. And such personalization of ‘learners need’ significantly helps in establishing a clear value for the business while enhancing the ROI of L&D function.
To know more about learning trends, register for the People Matters L&D Conference 2018, to be held on the 23rd October in Mumbai.