Microlearning Is Learning Turned Upside Down
We like to think of microlearning as learning turned upside down. Instead of trying to cram lots of information into learners’ heads at once (most of which is forgotten too soon), the power of microlearning is the focus on delivering relevant, timely, and single learning concepts in a way that can be better processed, applied, and retained on-the-job.
A Simple Definition
We define microlearning as any learning content that targets a specific performance outcome that can be delivered in 5-7 minutes. A common misconception is that microlearning is simply condensed learning content. Not true.
Instead, it might consist of a training that is broken into small chunks (or skills) that can be taught and absorbed one at a time and then practiced and applied until it becomes part of a learner’s working routine.
Piece by Piece
Microlearning’s success is based on research that people learn more effectively with short, focused bits of learning that can be easily revisited and reinforced. In other words, we learn better piece by piece, especially when these “learning bursts” are relevant to what we do and what we care about.
Microlearning is the opposite of the way so many corporate trainings take place. We all know the typical “training event” where employees are talked at for hours or even days at a time. The hope is that employees will leave the classroom with multiple new skills and that, with a bit of follow-up, the skills will be put into practice.
But our own training measurement research tells us that is just wishful thinking and a waste of training dollars. Only 1-in-5 training participants change their on-the-job behavior from stand-alone training events – regardless of the quality.
The Power of Microlearning at Work
Instead, microlearning flips the process so only one-tenth of the training time is spent on learning – one skill at a time in short, substantive modules. The bulk of the time is spent on follow-up activities over the next few days or weeks which include structured practice, individual and team discussions, role plays, performance feedback, and coaching.
It works because learning is a process, not an event. If the skill to be learned is worth an employee’s time and the company’s money, it’s no good unless it sticks and is actually applied on the job.
The Bottom Line
As you put together your training objectives and training budget, consider incorporating microlearning into your plans. Why? Because it takes less time, saves money, and brings measurable results.
To learn more about the power of microlearning at work, download the Top 10 Training Best Practices for More Effective Learning
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