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What You Need to Know About Microlearning

"Training is no longer seen as a formal process, but something that happens every day in the workplace."
What You Need to Know About Microlearning

by Melissa Ramos

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How we approach learning in the workplace is changing.

Organizations have started moving away from traditional training methods like long in-class sessions and large employee manuals. Instead, they’re focusing on creating short-form content that engages their team and fits right in with their day-to-day activities.

These bite-sized pieces of content, commonly referred to as microlearning, represent a larger shift in the training industry. Training is no longer seen as a formal process, but something that happens every day in the workplace.

What Does Microlearning Look Like?

Microlearning is an approach to training development that focuses on quick lessons that are meant to be highly engaging, contextual and targeted. From short, fun videos to group activities to infographics, microlearning is starting to show up more and more.

One of the best non-workplace examples of microlearning is Duolingo, an app for learning new languages quickly and easily. Duolingo takes a gamified approach to learning, encouraging users to stay on top of their lessons to continue to unlock achievements and earn points.

Learning a new language is complex and time-consuming, but Duolingo has succeeded by breaking down an extremely complicated process into tiny nuggets that users can chip away at every day.

Another non-workplace example of microlearning is Tasty, BuzzFeed’s cooking lesson channel. Tasty has completely rocked the world of social media content, reshaping Facebook feeds worldwide in its image. Its super short cooking lessons, shot from above with no narration and minimal onscreen text, are incredibly popular and a shining star of how to teach a skill in as little time as possible.

Vox is another media company that has mastered the art of microlearning with its video essay YouTube and Facebook content. Their video essays dissect and offer thoughtful critiques of current events, pop culture and other nuanced topics in just a few minutes. These videos pump out high impact knowledge in an entertaining way, never lasting long enough to lose a viewer’s attention.

By taking the same approach as Duolingo, BuzzFeed and Vox, and bringing it into the workplace, you’ll not only help your team retain information, but you’ll also get them excited about learning too. Inspiring employees to actually care about learning is one of the biggest challenges in training design, so why not mimic the content and apps that they already love?

Why Microlearning Is Effective

Whether your workforce is right beside you, across the world, or permanently remote, there’s one thing that’s always true: they’re busy. And that’s where microlearning comes in.

There are three main factors that are making microlearning such a powerhouse tool for training designers.

They’re specific.

Grab-and-go learning allows for easy access to relevant information when your employees need it the most. Infographics or short videos can be used to review a concept or process that is specific to the task at hand, giving them contextual learning that can be applied immediately. Keeping your content trim helps ensure that only relevant content is included, resulting in increased engagement and recall.

They’re flexible.

Having information divided into smaller modules gives your workforce autonomy and ownership over their own learning and development. It provides them with space to reflect, self-assess and supplement their development when they feel that they’re ready to level up.

They’re fresh.

Microlearning content can be turned around quickly. Instead of building out sprawling lesson plans and curricula, short-form educational content can be produced in a matter of days. Having smaller modules allows for easier and more frequent updates, meaning the information you’re pushing out to your team is always fresh, up-to-date and relevant to the challenges that they’re facing on a daily basis.

Applying Microlearning to Your Own Organization

Now that we’ve gone over microlearning, I want to hear from you! Are you using microlearning in your training programs? Planning on adding it in?

Tell me about your experience with microlearning in the comments below.

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