How microlearning can benefit your organization

Bigger is not always better, especially when it comes to training. Employees are often stretched thin, and dread being dragged from their work for an hour or two. Not only that, but after such long sessions, remembering everything is a challenge for even the most dedicated of learners. Microlearning is one technique that may hold the key to delivering effective training in a way that employees will come to embrace.

What is microlearning?

Microlearning seeks to educate by breaking subject matter down into bite-sized content. Lessons are short, and focus on only a narrow topic or learning objective. It is often delivered via mobile devices or computers so that employees can access the appropriate content at any time no matter where they are. A variety of technologies can be helpful in supporting this learning technique, including interactive learning tools like TurningPoint.

Of course, not all training is suited to this format. Complicated subjects, and ones that require in-depth focus, are best left to more traditional live or asynchronous training sessions. Microlearning, on the other hand, offers benefits in areas that need short, focused skills training.

Lessons are short, and focus on only a narrow topic or learning objective.

Types of microlearning

There are many different ways to incorporate microlearning into your training curriculum. Here are a few types of content that can support this style of learning, either by themselves or combined.

  • Images and videos
  • Audio recordings
  • Gamification
  • Text-based lessons
  • Resource library

Images and videos

Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words. That can be valuable when you are designing trainings to be as concise as possible. A short video is excellent for demonstrating how to perform a task or for quickly illustrating a concept that employees need to understand. Images – like infographics, photos, charts and graphs – can serve this purpose as well, particularly as part of a broader training initiative.

Audio recordings

For some topics, a short podcast, a mini-lecture even a snippet of music can be the best way to convey the concept at hand. This works especially well in conjunction with accompanying visual examples.

Gamification

Bite-sized games are a great way to get employees invested in a training, even beyond its usefulness on the job. Games can inspire a fun spirit of competitiveness, and increase attention during a lesson. They are also an excellent way to review concepts from either current or previous trainings.

Text-based lessons

Multimedia and graphics are good tools, but not always necessary for a successful microlearning program. PDFs, short eBooks and even Word documents can sometimes be just as effective, if not more so, depending on the material at hand.

Resource library

A resource library for employees provides a collection of microlearning modules that they can access whenever needed. This just-in-time training gives learners what they need when they need it, while also encouraging employees to learn relevant material without having to first reach out to a trainer or supervisor.

What are its benefits?

Both traditional training and microlearning share many of the same benefits, including increasing employee engagement, closing skills gaps and boosting retention. (Check out our blog 6 important benefits of employee training to learn more.) Microlearning, however, also provides a variety of unique benefits.

  • Efficiency for trainers
  • Flexibility for employees
  • Increased relevance
  • Retention through repetition

Efficiency for trainers

Although trainers need to plan and execute microlearning lessons just as they would with any training, this technique makes it easier for them to create content for their learners, adjust that content over time and scale learning across the company.

Rather than building and executing an hour-long training for every topic, trainers can instead package smaller tidbits of information that provide what their learners need. When certain aspects become outdated, they do not have to re-do everything, but instead can simply replace the affected micro-lessons. In addition, as microlearning is typically delivered asynchronously through a technological medium, it is relatively simple to deliver to a larger number of employees.

Flexibility for employees

If you ask employees the biggest benefit of microlearning, you will often hear the same reply: It respects that their time is a valuable resource. Carving out an hour or more for training on a regular basis is a challenging proposition, even for the most dedicated employee. However, even the busiest among us usually have some pockets of time throughout the day.

Employees can also build their training time around when they are most ready to learn. Some of us learn best first thing in the morning, while others are more alert in the afternoon or even at night. Bite-sized microlearning packages are waiting to be consumed at any time and, because they do not require a huge commitment, are easier to fit into any schedule.

Increased relevance

It is much simpler for employees to access microlearning content at the moment they need it than it is for them to find and sit through a longer training. Depending on the task at hand, employees could watch a lesson right before they actually need to put that training into practice. Learning a lesson in the same setting where an employee has to apply those skills can also aid in memory retrieval in the future.

Retention through repetition

The spacing effect learning theory posits that long-term memory is enhanced when concepts are studied over time rather than in one big block. This could mean viewing the same lesson at regular intervals, or spacing out different mini-lessons over a period of weeks rather than as one epic afternoon of training. Employees are more likely to remember concepts this way, and are less likely to miss anything because of lack of concentration or boredom.

How to incorporate microlearning

Making microlearning a part of your company’s training program requires careful planning and consideration. This strategy can be incorporated bit by bit, or as part of a larger revamp of the training curriculum. Either way, the following guidelines should be valuable in ensuring that the program meets the needs of both the organization and its employees.

Determine appropriate topics

The truth is, not all topics are suited to microlearning. Anything that is very complex or requires employees to delve deeply into a topic would be better explored during a longer course or training series. Microlearning is more appropriate for skills-based trainings with one clear learning objective.

Choose technology

Because microlearning is usually delivered to employees via their own phones or computers, some kind of eLearning tool is a must. These range from simply uploading a YouTube video to investing in a full-fledged learning management system. Having a solid grasp on your learning objectives and reporting needs are essential to knowing what technology is best for your organization.

TurningPoint is one tool that is suited to delivering microlearning lessons and tracking employee progress. By uploading videos, PowerPoint presentations and other collateral to the online platform, trainers can quickly deliver content and interactive questions to employees. This material can be accessed at any time from any location via their cell phones, tablets or computers.

Design assessments

Even though the trainings are short, assessments are still a critical element. Practical assessments, where employees actually complete a task for evaluation, are one way to ensure that they have retained the necessary information. TurningPoint allows for assessments in the form of interactive questions interspersed throughout a training, and/or a quick quiz at the end to measure whether or not they have achieved the outlined learning objective.

Track progress

With microlearning, because so much of the training is done on the employee’s own time, it is important to have an automated way of knowing who has completed which training and whether or not they achieved the learning objectives. TurningPoint offers a number of reports to keep track of individuals, sessions and even organization-wide usage information. This gives instructors the ability to keep track of progress and to make data-driven decisions about what trainings are needed, how to improve existing trainings and even which employees might need further assistance.

Want to learn how TurningPoint can support microlearning at work?