Microlearning is a technique that focuses on small, easily digestible lessons, instead of longer and more comprehensive teaching sessions. The benefits of microlearning are particularly well suited to the modern “on-the-go” lifestyle, especially when it comes to business environments.
Whether you’re a leader in your organization or simply an interested employee, microlearning has the potential to transform your organization’s training programs. Here’s how.
1. Microlearning is Easier to Remember
Businesses spend a huge amount of time and money on training — $156 billion in 2011 alone — but often have little to show for it. Indeed, research has shown that as much as 90 percent of newly learned skills may be lost within a year. The reasons behind that poor retention rate are likely related to the method of learning itself.
In contrast to day-long teaching sessions, microlearning allows employees to focus on one “mini-lesson” or skill at a time. That means that at the end of the day, when students’ brains work to process and catalog the information they learned that day, they only need to be filling away one skill, not an entire day’s worth of lessons.
2. Microlearning Emphasizes Just-In-Time Learning
One of the biggest benefits of microlearning is that it allows you to learn skills just as they’re needed. This not only makes the skill easier to learn; it makes it more likely to stay learned since you’ll be putting it to use straight away. This immediate neural reinforcement helps you maximize the value of the lessons, and also makes it easier for students to navigate the professional responsibilities that the microlearning lesson relates to.
3. Microlearning Makes Employers Better Able to Track Course Effectiveness
Microlearning lets employers get instant feedback on how a lesson is received and retained. By consuming shorter lessons, employers can track how individual employees are responding to the lesson, and then use that information to evaluate how useful the lesson was.
Lessons that multiple students struggle with can be adjusted to be more effective in the future or simply omitted entirely from future training programs. Over time, this allows employers to only focus on the lessons that provide meaningful results, allowing a degree of micromanaged course optimization that simply isn’t possible with longer learning sessions.
4. Microlearning Facilitates Increased Flexibility for Employees
In the modern workplace, asking employees to find the time to block out an entire hour or two at once for education sessions is often an exercise in frustration. With packed schedules and “always connected” work habits, there are simply too many other factors competing for attention to be able to justify such a large block of time.
In contrast to longer lessons, microlearning means your employees only need to set aside 15 minutes spread out across the entire week for their lessons. The shortest micro-learning sessions can even take place within the span of a single brief coffee break. This flexibility ensures that employees can schedule their learning sessions only during the times when they’re prepared to truly digest the information that's being taught.
Microlearning for the Digital Age
While the cliché is that new employees entering the workforce have short attention spans and are addicted to their screens, the truth is that all employees regardless of age are voracious about consuming digital content. Research from Nielsen shows that even adults in the 50-64 age group are sharply increasing their digital media usage from year to year. In fact, in 2013, older adults increased their screen time by more than 70 percent in the second quarter alone.
Now consider that research firm Deloitte has estimated that digital skills have a “half-life” of about 2.5 years. That microlearning research doesn’t just mean that any digital skill is likely to be forgotten in two and a half years — it also means that skill probably won’t be relevant at all in two and a half years. As software versions and digital workflows transform dramatically from year to year, it simply doesn’t make sense to ask your employees to learn larger lessons all at once.
Bite-sized microlearning lessons are a perfect fit for the kind of iterative learning that the modern workplace requires. Check out a free preview of our microlearning courses today and see if our management training courses are right for you.