The human attention span is getting shorter. This has become evident in the content we consume for entertainment. TikTok is an app that features entertaining videos of 60 seconds or less, and they have over 689 million users worldwide. This is because users want that instant shot of gratifying entertainment from their content. Many would rather spend their time watching a variety of snackable content pieces instead of an hour-long episode of a given show. This trend has found its way into the workplace as well. Employees don’t want to watch hours of plain educational videos or read through hundreds of pages of a training manual. In 2021, people want their information delivered quickly and efficiently, which is why microlearning has become incredibly popular at workplaces.
What is microlearning?
Microlearning is a method of eLearning that delivers the material in condensed digestible chunks that make it easier to comprehend and absorb. It’s the ideal way to fill knowledge gaps effectively. For example, if you were to ask someone how to change a tire, it would be more helpful for them to offer a brief explanation instead of handing you an entire book on how to change your own tires.
There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules when it comes to microlearning, but there are some basic strategies for it to be the most effective:
You aren’t limited to just one minute, but the most effective length typically shouldn’t exceed 5 minutes. When it comes to microlearning, less is more.
You can use microlearning to educate your team on nearly any topic or procedure. Just make sure that what you want to convey can be condensed into 5 minutes or less. The user should be able to walk away from the training with a new understanding of the given topic. Keep videos relatively simple to teach specific skills without any unnecessary information.
While video is the most common, it’s not the only form of microlearning. You can also create quick learning materials through slideshow presentations, audio podcasts, and interactive games.
Microlearning needs to immediately capture the user’s attention and keep them engaged. If the content from an hour-long training video isn’t stimulating, splitting it up into 5-Minute chunks isn’t going to make it more interesting.
Therefore, microlearning is not just about making your training shorter. It is in fact an innovative and condensed approach to learning specific information in a more hyperfocused manner. Only then, the the learning experience can result in increased learner engagement and improved knowledge retention.
How is it different from traditional learning?
Microlearning is very specific. Unlike traditional learning, a microlearning video will cover one single element of a particular topic or technology.
Example: How To Use Excel would typically be an hour-long training video in a traditional learning environment. With microlearning, you’d be likely to get a 3-minute video on How To Create a Pivot Table.
It’s not recommended as a high-level teaching method and is more effective as a way of answering quick, specific questions. Employees that are self-motivated and seek out additional knowledge will have the most to gain from microlearning. It’s helpful to have a basic level of expertise so they can take what they learn from a microlearning training and immediately apply it to their work.
What are the learning benefits?
Microlearning continues to gain traction as it appeals to the majority of adults joining the workforce and has been proven to be more efficient. According to a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, learning in short, digestible pieces is 17% more efficient than traditional long-form learning. To help understand why we’ve provided the reasons below:
It’s easily accessible
Employees can learn the on-demand content at their own pace and have an easier time fitting it into their work schedule. In the average 8-9 hour workday, it can be challenging to set aside hours for learning. With microlearning, most employees can find 5 minutes between different tasks, creating a seamless way to incorporate learning into their workflow. As a result, this helps create a company culture that embraces learning and improves overall productivity.
Retention is easier
Bite-sized lesson plans are more focused and contain less clutter. An employee can find a valuable piece of information at the beginning of an hour-long video but completely forget about it by the end because of the information overload. Short learning sessions make it easier to retain the information. The employee can immediately apply what they’ve learned, making the learning experience more worthwhile.
It’s more engaging
In a survey done by Software Advice, 58% of employees would be more likely to use their company’s educational tools if the content was broken up in shorter sessions. Learning in 3-7 minute intervals matches the average human’s attention span and memory capacity. You’re more likely to capture the attention of learners for the entirety of a 5-minute video than you are to keep them engaged for even half of an hour-long video.
The Top Microlearning Trends in 2021
While microlearning is among the top trending educational tools in 2021, it has become even more effective when paired with other learning technologies:
- Gaming and edutainment
- Mobile microlearning
- Simulation and real-life scenarios
- Augmented reality and virtual reality
- AI-powered adaptive learning
If you’re unfamiliar with these trends, we’ll explain them in further detail below:
Microlearning Through Gaming
Learning via gaming systems works just as well for adults as it does for children. By nature, we like to feel like we’re “leveling up” and enjoy seeing our names on a leaderboard. Many Learning Management Systems give businesses the ability to create rewards systems for their training programs. Users can accrue points for taking daily trainings, acing tests, and completing modules. This creates an exciting incentive alongside microlearning that makes it feel more like a fun activity and less like a chore.
Most, if not all, employees have a cellphone, and if they’re not working, it’s likely in their hands. Top eLearning companies optimize their learning materials for mobile. In this way, users can watch the quick micro-learning videos on their devices when it suits them instead of always having to take them at their desks. This trend makes learning on the go more approachable and doesn’t feel as invasive in their work-life balance.
Creating timed real-life scenarios tests the learner’s ability to think on their feet and provides insight into their decision-making process. By pairing these with microlearning video content, you can effectively evaluate how each learner would react in a work-related scenarios. Simulations are a safe environment to test out new theory-backed skills without the risk of using them on customers or mission-critical tasks.
AR/VR Learning Solutions
Augmented reality learning solutions have become a popular training method for jobs that require biological and chemical experimentation. With the use of a mobile device or VR headset, the user can perform the task as if they were actually doing it in a lab. Practicing these duties in VR creates a safe environment for the users to experiment and learn without having to step foot in a laboratory. Combining AR and VR with microlearning makes these trainings more cost-effective for the organization without sacrificing the educational content quality.
If you’re using a Learning Management System for your eLearning programs, then you likely have access to their analytics features. These allow you to track your user’s’ course progress, pass attempts, achievements, and the lessons they’re struggling with. The data from these analytics can be leveraged using AI to develop unique learning paths for your employees. New employees or those that are struggling can revisit content until they become comfortable with the material. On the other hand, your stronger learners will be able to skip content that they’ve already mastered so they can spend more time learning new skills and applying them to their workflow. AI-Adaptive learning enables you to create a learning experience tailored to the employee so every individual can learn exactly what they need at their own pace.
Microlearning isn’t new, but its rapid increase in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how effective this learning tool can be. Even as the workforce slowly starts to return to their offices, the benefits of microlearning can only mean that it’s here to stay. Microlearning has made employee upskilling more affordable. The on-demand bite-sized learning empowers employees to fill their knowledge gaps at their own pace and encourages them to incorporate their education into their daily workflow. Not only does it save time for employees, but your organization will also spend less time, money, and resources on providing long training videos or in-person seminars to your team.
If you’re interested in designing microlearning lessons for your team or simply have questions about the process, connect with us. We’re a team of professionals with a focus on building businesses through the power of custom online education. We’d love to hear more about your organization and will be delighted to help you.