By Cindy Simms
Bite-sized chunks of information have proven to be a favorite for learners. One study found that 94% of learners prefer eLearning modules less than 10 minutes in duration - these nuggets are easy to digest. The same study found that most learners think typical eLearning modules present too much information. With attention spans growing ever shorter, these kernels of information must be compact, tasty and nourishing.
Hence the lure of video: well-constructed video produced to high standards can be an effective way to serve up microlearning. Quality is key in this equation: The popularity of YouTube and other such applications has made us all film critics, with exacting standards and high expectations. Compelling visuals also help learners better retain information; we absorb knowledge more deeply when it’s presented in multiple formats.
Another part of microlearning’s appeal is its anytime, anywhere availability. Since we can now access information 24/7 and just about everywhere, we can take our learning on the road. Instead of watching cute cat videos on the commute to work, now we can catch a quick Excel tutorial to help prepare our month-end numbers. Not quite as adorable perhaps, but definitely more useful.
While the “micro” portion of microlearning may sing the praises of all things small, the other word, “learning,” is equally important. While part of the focus is on entertaining and engaging an audience used to everything delivered at top speed, learners must still absorb and retain the information if we want to develop and evolve the workforce. All content must adhere to the golden rule of the lesson objective; each module must have a goal regardless of length.
At Skillsoft, we’ve found that for microlearning to stick, it should include methods for learners to reinforce what they’ve learned and provide opportunities for practice. Ideally, employees will have the opportunity to put their new skills into practice soon after the learning experience—applying new knowledge within a few weeks helps increase retention.
Microlearning works especially well for just-in-time performance support and learning reinforcement. A recent Aberdeen Group report, “Best Practice: Microlearning Helps Employees Re-learn Concepts Quickly,” states, “Microlearning is best used by employees when they have a challenge that needs an immediate resolution, or when they’re facing an issue and can’t really remember what’s what….Microlearning presents a wonderful opportunity for organizations/ employers to more easily allow employees to resolve challenges on their own.”
Think about ways you can incorporate this content into your learning & development programs to support professionals across job roles and at all stages of their career and development planning.
Cindy Simms is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Skillsoft.