As work becomes more digitized, people have come to expect a certain level of freedom from their jobs. As more businesses move online and more people work from home, employees want to do their work in a way that best suits them.
The global pandemic has accelerated the digitization of work by years in a matter of months, meaning the need for flexible learning is more important now than ever before. One way business leaders can give their employees this flexibility is by providing education in the form of micro learning.
Especially in the eLearning world, micro learning has become something of a buzzword in the past few years. But does it actually work? Is it a substantial teaching method or a passing fad?
What is Micro Learning?
The concept of micro learning was created before the internet, but lately, it’s seen a big resurgence. With the proliferation of smartphones, many people suddenly had the capacity to learn in bite-sized chunks from just about anywhere.
As the name suggests, micro learning is any learning based on small, easily-digestible pieces of content. Micro learning modules can be used to quickly explain a topic, refresh knowledge on a subject, or teach a new skill. They can be one-offs or a series of short lessons and can be packaged in any number of ways.
The only rule for building a micro learning lesson is that it has to be based around short pieces of content—“micro content” as the International Journal of Scientific and Technology Research put it in a 2012 paper.
Some examples of micro learning content include:
- Text: Phrases or short paragraphs that communicate the lesson adequately
- Images: Photographs, illustrations, or data visualizations
- Videos: Short demonstration or explainer videos that encapsulate the lesson
- Tests: Short tests and quizzes at the end of the lesson help with knowledge retention
- Games: Simple, gamified challenges to help students grasp concepts quickly in an entertaining way
- Audio: Short podcast-like audio snippets people can listen to
Depending on the lesson, these methods of information delivery can be combined. A detailed infographic, for example, can supplement aesthetically engaging images with short informative text.
It’s common to compile micro learning lessons and modules into a comprehensive knowledge database people can access later, organized by subject. This allows learners to access just the lessons they need in the moment, and find those lessons quickly.
How Can Micro Learning Help My Business?
The way we work is changing. Workforces are more distributed and need more flexible schedules. Sometimes, people need to learn a concept or skill quickly on the job. These are all things micro learning is built to accommodate.
Benefits of micro learning include:
- It’s faster to deliver: Since lessons are short and easily accessible, employees can access them on their time anywhere they have an internet connection. Not only does this empower employees to learn on their own, but it also helps your business be more agile.
- It’s more affordable: Micro learning courses and content are cheaper to produce than full traditional courses. You don’t even need a specialized content platform to make micro content, though it can help make the process easier.
- It’s flexible: Micro lessons can be created to cover a variety of subjects and skills. That makes micro learning easy to tailor to just about any industry.
- It’s more engaging: Micro learning, feels more like checking an app on your smartphone. That makes it more engaging, which can boost knowledge retention.
- It gives employees more freedom: Lessons that are accessible from a home computer, smartphone, or other internet-connected device let your team learn when and how they want to.
Younger generations entering the workforce, like Millennials and Gen Z, are more likely to demand learning and development opportunities that are customized and available on-demand. Companies that implement microlearning can help draw talent by meeting those requirements.
When Not To Use Micro Learning
While micro learning has myriad benefits, it’s not necessarily applicable to every situation. When deciding where and how to use this educational tool, keep in mind that micro learning isn’t well-suited to more complex concepts. Micro learning courses can adequately give a high-level overview of a complex topic, but longer and more nuanced lessons may still be necessary.
For subjects that require deep understanding, micro learning probably won’t be the way to go. Micro learning may be good for learning conversational Spanish, but not for studying, say, Spanish philosophy and literature.
It’s important that you’re able to provide the learner with enough depth while keeping them engaged throughout the process. This is why concepts that can easily be broken down and packaged into mini-lessons are most suitable for micro learning.
What’s the Best Way to Implement a Micro Learning Program?
While every business has different needs, there are some best practices you can use when building your own micro learning program.
First, look at the areas you and your team need to build on and decide whether micro learning is a good fit. Are the areas your employees need improvement in or the skills they need to learn complex? Do they require deeper learning?
If so, micro learning might best be used as a supplemental tool. If not, you can build a micro learning program specifically for those areas.
When designing your program, ask:
- How will these lessons be used?
- How can you make this material engaging?
- How can you track people’s progress?
Avoid recycling regular-length eLearning content in short form chunks. Instead, create new content written to be engaging and communicate information quickly.
Your content should be engaging but also serve a purpose. Visual elements just for the sake of aesthetics won’t accomplish your goal, but a short demonstration video or animated infographic can make a lesson more interesting.
Review your team’s weak areas, and recommend content accordingly. Targeted recommendations help your people improve exactly the right areas quickly.
Once you’ve recommended a course or courses, follow up with your team afterward. Talk with them to be sure they’ve understood the material, and get their feedback on anything that could’ve been better.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to encourage your employees to use micro learning proactively. Make it clear to them that the entire library of content is at their disposal if they’d like to learn a new skill or refresh their knowledge of a concept.
Following these guidelines as you build micro learning into your company can help establish a culture of continuous learning where employees feel empowered to tackle new challenges. Empowered learners become incredibly valuable assets in the long run and improve the quality of your business.
Ready for More?
Ready to find out how Bellewether, Ltd. can help you integrate micro learning into your business? Visit our Training and Development page for more details on how we can help, then reach out to us when you’re ready to talk.