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Microlearning for Beginners

Microlearning is a term that is used often in the learning and development world. It is an emerging strategy that allows learners to complete their education and development on their own time and is particularly attractive for its flexibility and agility. Thousands of organizations are opting to leverage microlearning as their primary L&D strategy, but it can be confusing to understand exactly what microlearning is. There are hundreds of different learning modes that leverage microlearning, and it is important that you and your organization know what it means to create an effective microlearning program. Let’s go over what microlearning is, how it is best used, and what it could look like if used in your organization.

What exactly is microlearning?

To put it simply, microlearning is a term used to encompass small learning units and short-term learning activities. We often use the term “bite-sized” to refer to microlearning, as it is developed into quick, easy to digest chunks that engage and satisfy learners. While there is no clear definition, all microlearning programs share one key characteristic: brevity. This L&D method excels because it allows learners to take in small amounts of information quickly to build on their knowledge over time and stay engaged.

There are seven major types of microlearning. Often, organizations leverage many but not all of these different modes to maximize learning engagement. They are:

  • Interactive modules
  • Static (performance support) resources
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts
  • Gamification (often in the form of learning modules)
  • Videos
  • Simulations/branching scenarios

There are many other ways to utilize microlearning, but these seven common modes can help you and your organization develop an understanding of the broad reach of these programs.

Why your organization should consider microlearning

Now that we have developed a definition of microlearning, it is important to dig into why and how it is effective. There are three main reasons why organizations choose to implement microlearning programs: flexibility, engagement, and scalability. Each of these benefits save company time, money, and resources. That’s not it, though—microlearning is also particularly effective in creating a positive learning environment organization-wide.

  1. Flexibility. Microlearning’s flexibility is twofold; on one hand, you can use microlearning for nearly every learning and development need. On the other hand, microlearning provides learners with the flexibility to learn when and how they prefer. Microlearning programs rarely run more than 10 minutes long and can be built for accessibly on a variety of media (laptop, phone, tablet, etc.). Furthermore, nearly any current learning program can be converted into a microlearning format, meaning your options on what you can develop are nearly unlimited.
  2. Engagement. At Dashe, we believe a learning program is only as effective as it is engaging. Simply put, you should always prioritize keeping learners engaged and attentive when participating in development programs. Microlearning is one of the best ways to engage learners because it provides them with knowledge in small, digestible chunks. Not only does this mean their attention is captured more easily, but it also reduces the amount of time they spend on training at any one time, meaning they can continue their work as needed.
  3. Scalability. Modern microlearning is extremely focused on scalability. The best learning programs are those that can be developed for a wide audience and used in multiple departments, locations, and at different times. Microlearning’s recent push into virtual and remote work means that it can create meaningful learning experiences for many individuals without breaking the bank. If your organization struggles with creating programs that can be used company-wide, consider creating microlearning programs.

Creating your first microlearning program

Given the variety of different microlearning types, there has never been a better time to create and implement a program tailored for your learners. As with any eLearning program, we first suggest getting to know your audience a bit better. Conducting a training needs analysis will help your organization better understand learning needs, and will make the process smoother as you continue to develop content.

Once your organization has a clear understanding of what content you wish to provide to your learners, the nest step is selecting the appropriate microlearning format to maximize learning outcomes. If you are looking to improve employee efficiency on the job, creating performance support resources might be the best for you. If your learning program focuses on introducing a new process or product, a microlearning video series could be particularly effective. Or, if you are looking to implement a company-wide education program on workplace conduct, creating an interactive microlearning module might give you the best opportunity to engage a wide variety of learners.

Microlearning best practices

Before you venture off to create your first microlearning program, we have a few dos and don’ts that can help you maximize your time and money. These will help you stay on track and increase buy in from learners and management.

  • DO focus on a specific topic. The purpose of microlearning is to target a specific learning outcome, not bombard a learner with as much info as possible in a short period of time.
  • DON’T create programs that are repetitive. Your learners are human. They will become disengaged if you continue to feed them the same content—switch it up a bit. Microlearning has many different modes, so consider using as many as reasonable to keep learners continuously engaged.
  • DO use the power of storytelling. Microlearning is engaging as it is but leveraging the power of storytelling will only add to the value of your learning program. Click here to read more about storytelling, or even watch our recent webinar on the topic.
  • DO use an active, engaging tone. Microlearning is built for the future, and the future of L&D is personal, fun, and interactive. Use an engaging tone to ensure learners enjoy their learning and development experience.

Microlearning will continue to be an effective learning method for the foreseeable future, so there is no better time than now to begin to invest in interactive, engaging eLearning experiences. Armed with the knowledge and understanding outlined above, you and your organization should have a solid understanding of what microlearning is, how it is best used, and how it can be deployed to maximize learning outcomes. When building your next learning and development, consider microlearning as a flexible, engaging, and scalable solution.

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