The term microlearning or bite-sized learning has been around in the corporate world for a while now. It still continues to be a buzzword, especially after a humongous rise in the manufacture and growth of smartphones and other mobile devices. But how much of the hype is actually worth it?
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding microlearning. A lot of organizations have incorporated microlearning into their learning strategies, but not derived the results they want. In order to ensure that you actually get the benefits that microlearning claims to offer, it is important to understand it in its right sense.
Here are some of the biggest microlearning traps that you need to know:
1. It’s all about chopping up large content into smaller chunks
This is the biggest myth surrounding microlearning i.e. believing that it’s all about chunking huge content into smaller bits with the goals of engaging learners. This is however a big trap. Bite sized learning might seem like chunking up complex information and condensing it into corresponding modules. However, microlearning is much more than that. Just splitting up a huge amount of content and handing it out to learners in shorter forms will not work. A host of other factors also need to be taken into consideration.
Not every kind of content can be can be converted into a microlearning format. For example, microlearning can teach an employee the importance of body language or the essentials of a good posture. But it cannot teach an employee about the policies and products of a company through a few videos. In other words, microlearning supports learning, but it is not the only mechanism that can help delivery of training. It can serve as a great method to reinforce what one might experience at work or what has already been taught in a classroom.
2. Ignoring unique learner needs
The microlearning strategy needs to recognize that each employee has different job demands and varied learning preferences. Every learner is different and this is why it needs to be customized and adaptive. The designing and implementation of microlearning modules needs careful analysis, intricate structure and detail oriented outcomes. Simplicity has to be at the core of it to keep learners engaged. But it also needs to be sophisticated from the point of being thorough, organized and covering bits of the entire training with the right approach.
For example, if the training is for your frontline staff, you need a thorough research on the background and skill set of your frontline. Without knowing them thoroughly, learning cannot possibly be created in a way that they would want to consume. The goals should be to allow the learner to successfully attain the learning objective set by the trainers. In other words, the learning should follow an individual’s own preferred learning path.
3. Only deployed at prescribed times
Learning is a continuous process and not a one-time event. Employees learn at all times and the rise of mobile devices and affordable access to the internet has made this all the more possible. Employees are not waiting for someone to tell them when to learn. This applies to microlearning as well. Most organizations push learning to employees once or twice a year, either during onboarding or during yearly events. This is not the way microlearning works as the learners are never going to retain what has been taught in a single go.
Microlearning needs to be continuous, and pushed out at the right time when the employee is ready to learn. The kind of content pushed out also needs to be analytically thought of based on parameters such as employee performance, skills, job description, interests and so on. The technology should be intelligent enough to understand categories of learners and put them into buckets, pushing relevant content to them accordingly so that they are on their toes. The content also has to be relatable, something that they feel connected to and genuinely interested about.
4. Video is the only answer
Video is an obsession in microlearning. While it is true that videos are engaging and can help solve the attention deficit problem of learners, it need not be the only answer. Too many videos can confuse the learner, and he/she might not be able to retain all that was taught. Videos might make sense for knowledge based learning but if the learning is skill based, other types of content might work even better.
Scenarios are a good example of this, where real life situations are presented to the learner in the form of engaging graphics. The questions are well thought through as are the options. On the basis of the input that the learner provides, the system captures information about his/her learning style. The design of the content is intelligent enough to understand the mindset of the learner. The system then captures metrics like what content is working best, where most employees are getting stuck etc. Such information can be very critical for learning experts to lay down future strategies for improvement.
Hence, it is important to understand that even though microlearning has a lot of potential in terms of revolutionizing the world of learning, it also has limitations. The core goal of microlearning is to help learners understand training concepts and make them better at their jobs and even otherwise. This is possible if learning is continuous, personalized and engaging, to say the least. The content also does not necessarily need to be extremely heavy in the form of complicated videos, though short. Simple and intelligent content is what is needed. So do not get bogged down by the content format. Create the content on the basis of what works best with your learners. Along with this, employees also need to be engaged everyday with a gamified learning experience and collaborative learning through social elements.
Microlearning will definitely make it easier for your employees to digest smaller chunks of training, but the correct implementation is what will make the real difference. So be wary of what not to do.