HR Mavericks

Eddy’s HR Mavericks

Encyclopedia

Microlearning
Revolutionary learning technique or passing fad? Here are the most important information about microlearning and how to utilize it in your training program.

What is Microlearning?

Microlearning (also known as microlearning or micro-learning) is a learning format that is rapidly gaining popularity in both the school and work context. Continued studies reap intriguing results and a better understanding of how the human mind gathers and retains information. The focus of microlearning is to keep learning short and concise, but this goes far beyond breaking down lengthy lectures into smaller parts. It uses a technique called “chunking” which capitalizes on normally regarded learning flaws such as short attention spans and limited working memory. Overall, microlearning is a dynamic, action-oriented, and technology-driven approach to learning that simplifies complex information and transforms it into easily understandable and manageable pieces.

Microlearning Theory

Microlearning theory is the framework that guides the design and implementation of microlearning approaches. It encompasses the underlying concepts, research, and instructional strategies that make microlearning an effective learning method. Essentially, microlearning theory provides the foundation and guidelines for creating effective microlearning experiences.

Should Companies Utilize Microlearning?

Any company with a strong focus on learning could benefit from microlearning. It is a valuable tool for an organization to adopt for a number of reasons ranging from increased engagement to less overhead costs.

Benefits of Microlearning

As the studies continue to dig deeper into the results of microlearning, these promising benefits have been found thus far.
  • Improved learning retention. According to this article, microlearning improves focus and supports long-term retention by up to 80%.
  • Time and cost efficiency. With employees engaging in short, targeted learning experiences, microlearning requires less time and resources compared to traditional learning techniques.
  • Personalized learning experiences. From time availability, personal learning styles and preferences, and specific information covered, microlearning provides impressively personalized learning experiences. This extends to accommodating the varied learning needs of each individual, which is especially powerful for ensuring ADA compliance.

Limitations of Microlearning

The limitations are important to keep in mind based on the unique needs of your organization. Here’s what to consider:
  • Limited social interactions. With the focus on personalized learning experiences through technology, there is a reduction in social interaction. While creating online environments for employees to interact with one another can offset this, there will inevitably be a reduction in face-to-face social opportunities in the context of learning.
  • Technological limitations. There are technological limitations as well. Microlearning is built on utilizing technology to create the most efficient learning format thus relying heavily on technology that is up-to-date and upgraded.
  • Up-front costs. As microlearning offers cost efficient learning in the long term, there are potential up-front costs. These come from the initial creation of the customized microlearning program and curriculum, as well as the potential need to upgrade the organization’s existing technology.

Examples of Microlearning

Microlearning can be implemented in a variety of methods that meet the requirements outlined in microlearning theory. Here are some of the most well-known and widely-used formats.

Text

Text-based microlearning delivers content in a written format. This includes short articles, summaries or concise explanations. This format is most effective for conveying key concepts and providing step-by-step instructions.

Images

Microlearning using images relies on visual elements to convey information and concepts. This might look like infographics or diagrams and expand to charts and illustrations. The strength of this concept is the ability to stimulate visual memory, aiding in information retention. This is highly effective in simplifying complex concepts that might be lengthy to explain via text.

Audio

Here content is delivered in audio format. Some prime examples are podcasts, audio summaries, audiobooks and short audio clips. The strength of auditory learning is its flexibility and versatility. For example, learners may take part in audio-based microlearning during their commute or at the gym.

Videos

Short video clips are engaging and effective to deliver instructional content or demonstrate specific tasks and procedures.. These videos may consist of recorded lectures, demonstrations, animation or simulations. Effective videos utilize multiple learning styles by incorporating both visual and auditory experiences.

Interactive Media

The most engaging format is interactive media. In order to progress, learners are forced to interact directly with the curriculum which is highly effective for most learning styles. Some common examples are quizzes, games and interactive simulations. Learners interact with the content to receive immediate feedback regarding their understanding of the information.

How to Implement Microlearning in the Workplace

Once you decide that microlearning is a good fit for your organization, educate yourself on microlearning theory. With this solid understanding under your feet, you’ll be ready to take the steps to build it from the ground up. From start to finish, creating and implementing an effective microlearning training program requires close attention to detail, clearly defined goals and input from trusted team leaders and managers. While the creation of such a program will look different depending on the unique needs of the company, a general creation might look something like this.

Step 1: Identify Learning Goals, Objectives and Needs

Effective microlearning programs require careful and concise planning and execution, none of which is possible without proper research and goal setting. Firstly, what are you hoping to accomplish with the inclusion of microlearning in your current training program? What made you look into it in the first place? Are there specific numbers you’d like to see improve? How’s your organization’s current learning curve and forgetting curve as a whole? This information will help you to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound). Collaborate with managers and team leaders to get a thorough understanding of the needs of each department and any specific learning needs of employees (such as disabilities or time constraints). To take it one step further, conduct surveys, interviews or focus groups with employees to gather insights on existing knowledge and experience with the current training programs. Look for common areas mentioned as needing improvement and be sure to include them in your learning objectives.

Step 2: Determine a Development Method

One of the biggest choices for your microlearning program is whether or not to utilize a third-party learning and development expert, or to develop your microlearning curriculum in-house. There are many factors to consider, such as the size of the company, the amount of information to be included in the curriculum, time constraints, manpower and more. Additionally, you’ll need to select a platform. Some companies specialize in providing a microlearning platform with ready-made content across a range of topics that also allow for customization for more comprehensive or industry-specific training. Some examples are
These rapidly evolving platforms are even starting to incorporate AI assistance to help learning and development departments create new learning modules and customize their curriculum. Picking the right platform is the essential foundation for an effective microlearning program.

Step 3: Select Content and Chunk it

Now that you selected a platform, if you’re creating the curriculum in-house, review the existing training material and identify what content is relevant and what needs to be trashed or updated. Review your original goals and objectives regularly to ensure you remain on track. One of the most helpful features of microlearning platforms is the premade modules. Be sure to parooze the selection of premade lessons before diving in to create your own. Once you review each training topic’s existing material, break down the information into bite-sized “chunks.” There is some debate about how large a chunk should be. This article likens chunks to bite-sized Hors D'oeuvres. Some are a little larger; some are smaller. They fill the mouth differently but can all be eaten in a single bite. The average length seems to hover around 5 minutes (with variation both longer and shorter).

Step 4: Design Content

After the content has been defined and broken down, it’s time to enter the information into the platform in an interactive and easily understood way. Keep this in mind during the process:
  • A variety of formats
  • Accessibility options
  • Mobile options
  • Storytelling elements
  • Real-life examples
  • Restatements and simplifications
  • Opportunities for deeper dives
  • Knowledge checks
  • Interactive exercises
  • Visual appeal
  • Easy-to-navigate content

Pilot Program and Collect Feedback

Select a small group of trusted employees (maybe the same group you used in step 1) to participate in a pilot program of the microlearning modules. Gather feedback through surveys, interviews, or focus groups to evaluate the coherency, effectiveness, relevance, and overall user experience of the microlearning content. Using the feedback, refine and improve the program in preparation for the hard roll-out.

Launch, Incentivize, and Improve

At this point, you should have the finished product ready for launch. Select a date to make the microlearning platform available and create hype through a count-down and incentives. Utilize the most effective communication channel in your organization to communicate the benefits and value of the new microlearning program. Emphasize to employees the convenience and impact it can have on their professional development and career advancement. Continually improve the modules through collecting employee feedback and regularly review the information to ensure it remains up to date and relevant.

Microlearning Best Practices

To keep in line with microlearning theory, there are some best practices to keep at the forefront. Here’s the most important to consider during the creation and revisions of your microlearning training program.

Keep it Bite-Sized

What does that mean? According to Edapp, “bite-sized” means it can be completed in a single sitting, is independent in its content, and is small enough that more than one can be consumed in a row. Action Step: Develop a general guide or template for what bite-sized modules might look for your specific organizational needs.

Utilize Multiple Formats

This is important for a number of reasons. Unique people means unique learning styles. By using a variety of formats, you’re more likely to cater to more learning styles. Additionally, a variety of styles means more engaging content and more engaged learners tend to have better long-term retention. Action step: Choose one topic or concept and explore how it can be presented using multiple formats.

Ensure Accessibility

During the creation of your microlearning modules, keep the needs of diverse individuals in mind. Make sure that the microlearning content is accessible to all employees (current and potential), including those with disabilities or diverse learning needs. Action step: Conduct an accessibility audit of your microlearning modules, considering factors such as screen reader compatibility, closed captioning for videos, color contrast for visual content, and text alternatives for images. Make necessary adjustments or enhancements to ensure accessibility compliance.

Keep Learners Incentivized

The good news is that microlearning is somewhat self rewarding. The small bursts of engaging content naturally activate the reward centers of the learner’s brain. So focus your best incentives towards getting employees to use the microlearning platform. Incorporate rewards and recognition for active participation, especially for starting new modules. Action step: Implement a gamification element in your microlearning program by adding points, badges or leaderboards. Encourage friendly competition among employees or provide tangible rewards for achieving specific milestones or completing a set number of microlearning modules.

Ensure Convenience

Make platform interaction as easy and convenient as possible. Ensure the platform can be easily on a variety of devices, not just on work computers at the office. This enables employees to have control over when and where they complete the modules, allowing them to engage with the content at their preference. Action step: Explore mobile-friendly options for delivering microlearning content, such as developing a mobile app or optimizing your microlearning platform for mobile devices. Ensure that employees can access microlearning modules on their smartphones or tablets, enabling on-the-go learning.
Topics
Kayla Farber

Kayla Farber

Kayla is the Chief Innovation Officer at Hero Culture, where the passion is to create company cultures of retention using the power of personality.
View author page
Frequently asked questions
Other Related Terms
Badging
Employee Reassignment
Gamification in the Workplace
Mentorship Program
Transferable Skills
Eddy's HR Newsletter
Sign up for our email newsletter for helpful HR advice and ideas.
HR Mavericks
Simple and accurate payroll from Eddy
Pay your U.S.-based employees on time, every time.