Want to get more out of e-learning? Then it’s time to think about less: shorter duration, less richness, lighter format – in short, microlearning. Over the past decade, eLearning professionals have increasingly relied on the micro-course format to transfer knowledge and develop employee skills.
What is microlearning?
The name speaks for itself: microlearning is learning in small chunks and takes literally a few minutes. Microlearning modules, or micro-courses as they are also called, are a great way to give a clear, practical answer to a specific question or problem. Any type of online content – training videos, podcasts, presentations, scripts and assignments – can be submitted in microlearning format.
For example, here’s a microlearning video. Its duration is only 59 seconds, but at the same time, it gives a complete answer to the question: What should be in a home first aid kit?
Students enjoy micro-courses because they provide instant access to the information and skills they need. In addition, microlearning is usually geared towards mobile devices, which means you can take courses anywhere.
Educational designers love microlearning too because cool micro-content can be created quickly and inexpensively.
For a company, microlearning is a great opportunity to build a system for fast and fun employee training.
Still not sure if microlearning is worth it? In this article, we’ll take a look at 7 benefits of microlearning that prove that small steps can lead to huge results.
Knowledge is better absorbed
In the learning process, the student must constantly delve into and absorb new information. However, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus found that the average student forgets 50% of the material learned in class every other day and 90% within a month. The researcher called this the “forgetting curve.”
Ebbinghaus found that information is remembered much better with several repetitive sessions. As a result of repetition, students acquire knowledge better and more easily remember the necessary information.
Microlearning is a real cure for the forgetting curve. With a series of short micro-courses, you can pump well and reliably consolidate certain skills. And research shows that microlearning reduces the likelihood of mental fatigue because it is specific (that is, it is easier for the brain to concentrate on one thing) and short (that is, it is easy to take a break). Repetition transfers information from short-term memory to long-term memory – and this is how we build up knowledge.
Many companies are already successfully using micro-courses for on-the-job training. For example, Walmart used micro-courses to educate employees about safety. Following the launch of the program, the percentage of knowledge retention increased significantly, and the number of incidents decreased by 54%.
Students like the format more
A recent study found that millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000), as well as the even younger Generation Z, together make up nearly half of the entire working-age population in the United States. Young professionals are ardent fans of technology – both in work and in training.
Modern learners love materials that are effective, affordable, and fast. Microlearning, as a format tailored for mobile devices, ideally covers the needs of employees who want to receive timely answers to questions that arise in the course of work.
BH Media, which owns and operates 119 newspapers in the United States, has launched a series of training micro-courses for sales managers. 98% of employees who received training noted that the content was very useful and applicable in their work.
Less time training
A recent study from LinkedIn found that the biggest barrier to effective learning is time. Another study by Josh Berlin for Deloitte confirmed this finding and found that the average employee can devote only 1% of their weekly work time to training – that’s 24 minutes. And if we consider that in the field of corporate training, the average course lasts from 15 to 30 minutes, Virtual field trip it is easy to calculate that an employee can take, at best, one course per week.
Microlearning modules are much shorter than traditional e-learning courses, which means that an employee can master several such modules per week.
Learning is more interesting
Do you think employees find your training programs fun? If in doubt, think – maybe you are giving students too much information at a time? The majority (58%) of participants in the study of interaction with the LMS noted that they would use learning systems more often if the content was broken down into shorter lessons.
One of the main reasons for the popularity of microlearning is that it fits well with how our brains consume information. Good micro-courses include only the content they need, so learners don’t have to waste time on empty words and tick exercises. Research from the Association for the Development of Talent (ATD) confirms that micro-courses are more popular with students than traditional curriculum courses: they are simply better remembered and better digested.
Another confirmation of our thesis is the experience of the American non-profit company Magellan Health, which works in the healthcare sector. Over the course of a year, only 80 of 6,900 employees accessed the corporate training portal, according to the company’s HR department. After the introduction of microlearning, 80% of employees took part in training events. Every month, employees undergo about 2000 micro-courses and in less than six months the company managed to train about 700 employees.
Development of micro-courses is faster and cheaper
Time is money, and microlearning saves both at different levels:
- Students save time by completing courses faster.
- Organizations also save time because creating and updating micro-courses is faster than traditional courses.
- Organizations also save money because they do not have to pay for premises, trainers or transportation.
Learning expert Ray Jimenez claims that developing microlearning modules is 300% faster and the cost of creating content is half that of traditional eLearning development.
Supports a culture of learning
An organization’s learning culture is a set of values and practices that drive the continuous development of the professional knowledge and skills of employees. Organizations with a strong learning culture strongly encourage employees to improve their skills and share expertise with colleagues.
Learning involvement is a sign of a strong learning culture. And microlearning has the highest engagement rates because it’s easy to find, explore, and share. So this is a great way to increase the popularity of training in the company.
Student performance is growing
Microlearning improves the performance of students and, therefore, the company as a whole. Due to its capacious structure, micro-courses fit perfectly into the workflow of employees and provide the right knowledge at the right time. The micro-course covers one topic at a time so that employees receive the most specific information quickly and efficiently.
APA PsycNet conducted a study in which some students received information about the workflow in small, sequential chunks, while others studied the same process in a more complex format. The former showed much better results and could easily explain the stages of the process to colleagues.
The InterContinental Hotels Group experience is also a great example of how microlearning can improve employee performance. The company’s 5000+ hotels around the world received more and more inquiries from customers. Moreover, the queries became more and more complex. The company urgently needed to develop a new training format that would help to establish the process of working with clients. After the company launched microlearning and gave employees access to mobile micro-courses, onboarding time for new employees decreased from 5 weeks to 2 weeks – and as a result, employee efficiency in working with customers increased, and the average call processing time was significantly reduced.
So we’ve covered the key benefits of microlearning. Now let’s see examples of micro-content you can develop for your students.
Microlearning in action
Here are some roughly micro-courses that you can create in a few minutes:
In the first days of the workplace, a new employee has a lot of questions about the company. To answer most of them, you can create an online directory of frequently asked questions for beginners. For this purpose, for example, the Q&A interactivity is perfect, which is easy to create and can be quickly updated if necessary.
Visual product presentation
Salespeople need to know all of the product’s features and values and be able to present them in a favourable light. Create an interactive product presentation to showcase key features and provide comments.
Microlearning is not just another trend. It is a wise instructional strategy that learners enjoy and creates engaging content quickly. Plus, microlearning is a great way to reinforce a company’s learning culture.
Are you already using microlearning in your company? Share your experience in implementing and creating micro-content in the comments.