It may be the biggest fad in workplace learning right now. But, under the surface, microlearning pulls together a set of undeniable principles that are required to support employees in the face of near-constant disruption. It’s not a silver bullet. It’s not a replacement for everything being done in training today. But it is a renewed foundation for how to provide meaningful, continuous support in the workplace. Contributor JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect – Axonify
Despite having been disappointed by many fads of the past, learning pros can’t let the hype get in the way of a really, really good idea. When we talk about microlearning, we’re talking about a shift in mindset – moving away from the idea that learning looks like school and must happen at a designed place and time. Instead, this approach delivers short, focused content designed to solve specific performance problems. This helps you fit learning experiences naturally into the daily workflow, making it easier for employees to engage with minimal disruption. Microlearning is typically positioned as a voluntarily activity, shifting accountability for development to the employee and their manager. It is based in the science of how people actually learn, applying concepts like spaced repetition and retrieval practice. Ultimately, this approach is a mechanism for improving the behaviours that impact business results. Regardless of what you think about the word “microlearning,” you can’t argue against these principles. Are you already a microlearning evangelist? Or are you new to the concept and looking for evidence to help influence your peers and stakeholders? The decision to adopt microlearning should be focused on the value it can yield for the organisation and employees. The 2018 Microlearning Global Benchmark Report highlights how the introduction of microlearning principles can transform workplace learning.
Microlearning Enables Business Agility
The benchmark report lists the top applications for microlearning and includes topics such as product knowledge, safety, sales and customer service. That shouldn’t be surprising. Organizations already spend a considerable chunk of their training budget addressing these areas. However, this shows how applicable microlearning is for the most pressing business priorities. It also demonstrates the agility of microlearning principles to address and keep pace with the changing needs of the company. This is why product knowledge is by far the most common use case across industries. Traditional place-and-time training, such as eLearning and classroom sessions, can’t keep up with the speed of new product releases. The targeted nature of microlearning provides management with a new, scalable tactic to address this common challenge.
Microlearning Fits into the Typical Workday
Conversations about microlearning tend to focus on shorter content, but they don’t address the common problem organisations have with getting employees to make time for training. People barely have time to get their work done yet alone focus on new knowledge and skills. The benchmark report includes a breakdown of a typical microlearning session and provides demonstrable proof of how employees choose to spend their time during daily voluntary training activities. Not only does it show how much can be accomplished in less than 6 minutes every day, but it also validates the impact of engagement tactics, such as competition, rewards and progress reporting, on the employee learning experience. Finally, it demonstrates how a complete training experience can be embedded into a very busy workday to foster the habit of continuous, targeted learning.
Mobile Access Drives Engagement
L&D has been struggling with the application of mobile technology for more than a decade. Microlearning principles provide a renewed opportunity for the use of tablets and smartphones to support employee training. For example, the benchmark report shows that organisations that allow employees to access microlearning on mobile devices see training frequency rise by 42%. This increased engagement drives greater knowledge and sustained retention. Not only can this evidence can be used to support the expansion of mobile devices in the workplace, it can also help you make the argument for a bring your own device (BYOD) policy that reduces company expense while increasing employee engagement.
Microlearning Transforms Learning Measurement
L&D has a measurement problem. Traditional training metrics, such as completions and test scores, are insufficient when it comes to validating the impact of training on performance. Because microlearning creates targeted learning opportunities, it also provides the opportunity for expanded measurement. This includes new metrics, such as sustained knowledge and employee confidence. When this data is continuously captured and combined with key performance indicators, an organisation can identify the impact training is having on the business. It turns out that microlearning, with its targeted focus on specific problems, is a great place to start when it comes to improving your learning measurement strategy.
Microlearning works. In an industry that is oft-distracted by flavor-of-the-month fads, this is one conversation workplace learning professionals should not miss. Ignore the buzz. Ignore the hype. Get past the term “microlearning.” Instead, focus on the proven principles that are helping organisations around the world provide meaningful, measurable results for their stakeholders.