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What is Microlearning and Why Every Talent Manager Must Utilize It

Nov 06, 2019


  • EDITORIAL TEAM Talent Management Institute
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An educational hybrid of Instagram and Twitter, microlearning has gained tremendous traction in the last two years. This boom can be attributed to its prime users i.e. millennials. By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be comprised of millennials. The average attention span has shrunk to 90 seconds and learners now prefer customized, informal and on-demand lessons. Which is why microlearning meets the need fabulously.

Two distinctions root microlearning better than other forms of training:

  • Snackable content: microlearning facilitates content in small and easy to digest bites of 3-5 minutes’ short and focused study lessons suitable to the need of time-pressed new-age learners.
  • Easy Just-in-time access: employees can access the lessons anywhere, anytime and on the platform of their choice (smartphones, laptops, desktops or tablets). It is a perfect on-the-move and at-your-fingertips learning solution so accessibility factor can be comfortably tossed out of the learning window.

And that’s just the super crust of it, the fabulous toppings of these super-engaging nuggets include:

  • High impact visual formats: eLearning courses that employ microlearning see 90%+ completion rates in contrast with regular eLearning courses with 15% completion rates.
  • More engagement: Software Advice, in its report, The LMS Features that Drive Employee Engagement IndustryView, says 50% of employees prefer shorter courses. Microlearning facilities this.
  • More autonomy: content is learner-driven and flexible and can be consumed as and when needed.
  • More efficiency: Journal of Applied Psychology says, learning served in bite-sized modes is 17% more efficient than classroom learning.
  • Improved performance: learners can use these lessons while performing the task which helps in improving performance significantly.
  • Cost-effective and faster to develop: learning architect Ray Jimenez, Ph.D., in his book 3-minute eLearning, says microlearning cuts development costs by 50% and is 300% times faster to develop.

Microlearning content is also customizable, personalized, easily updated, re-deployable, sharable and has defined outcomes.

Though most of its usage has emerged in soft skills / behavioral change, safety compliance and enhancement of professional skills lessons, microlearning can be comfortably used for technical learning as well.

Types of Microlearning Content:

Videos and image formats have gained farther reach and popularity than text-based and other forms of content. 70% of millennials watch YouTube monthly. Sumo Me, in its study of 650,000 online users, said in contrast, only 20% of users read articles.

Videos: Videos serve best for service and product demos.
Example: Angry Birds games tutorial https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DypnVC3qvCc

Text-based and Image-based content: These are best used for performance support or job aids learning.
Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_qr1uJuM64 or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbIyRwbn6lo

Short audios: Audio-based content is suitable for learning while driving or while relaxing.
Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIneSsndae8

Quizzes and tests: Best used for reinforcing learned concepts.
Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQVNZsr6Pig

Games: Games give better engagement, concept retention and learning of complex concepts.
Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFf0ZD6wAf4

Current Industry Trends:

Walmart extensively used gamification of content across its 150+ distribution centers and 75,000+employees to create safety culture awareness. The workers were encouraged to play a safety game and answer specific safety questions. The game was extensively accepted by employees and resulted in decreased risks, accidents, injuries and associated costs: 91% engagement, a 54% drop in safety incidents, 15% boost in employee knowledge of safety measures to be precise.

Bloomingdale’s safety training replicated the same model to train its 10,000 employees in 12 states. It resulted in a 90% participation rate, an 86.6% increase in job confidence, a 41% drop in safety claims saving Bloomingdale’s USD 10 million.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) used microlearning to manage complex customer service requests in its 5,000+ hotels worldwide. Within 2 days of launch, IHG workers accessed more than 5,500 lessons. Onboarding time slumped from five weeks to two weeks.

Asurint which employs a large number of millennials used microlearning to engage employees at various stages of employment. Its onboarding, professional development and training solutions resulted in trimming the training time from 6-8 weeks to 4 weeks. Retention in its sales team spiked by 100%. 25% of these trainings were opted voluntarily by the employees.

NextWorth and Berkshire Hathaway Media Group (BH Media) used microlearning to improve their content.

Questions to Ask Before Integrating Microlearning in Your L&D Strategy:

If you want to keep your employees engaged, then give them what they want but serve it in a way that it is aligned with the organization’s interest, too.

Before moving ahead with your microlearning expedition ask these questions:

  • What kind of content do you wish to cover? Can it be divided into small bites of actionable content?
  • What kind of technology do you want to focus on? It must be easy to access and navigate.
  • What do your learners need?
  • What is the context?

Before We Part:

Employee learning styles have been changing. Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve hypothesis shows that we forget 80% of the learned concepts if we don’t revise and apply them in 30 days’ time. Aside from new bites of latest content, microlearning can serve as an excellent reminder or booster for long trainings. However, be careful of excessive reliance as it may give learners an impression that they may be missing the big picture. For best results, club microlearning with your regular trainings.

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