Leverage Microlearning to Enhance Learning Retention and Engagement

By June 22, 2017Microlearning

By Priyanka Malhotra

Few days back I was reviewing some old eLearning courses that were to be converted to a mLearning format. The courses were old Flash and early Storyline courses, and I became impatient as I flipped through the traditional welcome page, then a formal learning objectives page followed by context setting page, an overview to the entire learning curriculum – at which point, I lost interest and jumped right to the course menu to figure out what was the core learning focus of the module!

It made me think how learning habits and styles have changed in a few years!

Modern learners have lesser attention span. They want content in small bite sized chunks that are easier to digest and retain. Further, they want to control their learning plan. They want to decide when, where, and how they learn. The L&D functions too find it more difficult to pull out the employees from their work into long classroom sessions. Added to this a changing work environment is a big chunk of workforce that works from client sites, or travels or is out in the field – where connecting to LMS to take long eLearning courses becomes less feasible!
Microlearning addresses most of these problems! And so is becoming the preferred way of structuring and disseminating learning content.

However, that does not mean that all training programs should now use the microlearning approach. In fact, more often, Microlearning is one of the blended learning components of an overall training design approach.

Before we explore how to use Microlearning approach effectively, let’s establish some key points about what constitutes Microlearning.

What is Microlearning?

A Microlearning module has the following features:

Short Duration – As the name suggests, a microlearning module must be a crisp, small learning nugget, usually between 4-8 minutes. The range might stretch by couple of minutes depending on your content and its application.
Addresses a specific Learning Objective – A microlearning module is aimed at introducing one idea, address one behavior or explain one concept. For example, my training program on Change Management may have one Microlearning modules that just explains the Change Commitment Curve. Thus, it meets a specific learning objective.
Specific Learning Mode – The microlearning is designed as a focused output, such as a video, mLearning, iPDF, quiz or a short game.

How Microlearning Benefits the Learners?

Appropriate for reduced attention span – Studies show that people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds! The digitalized lifestyle has made us hyperactive with low threshold for boredom. Microlearning, with its segments of 1-3 minutes, helps in grasp and retention of the learning content.

Increased control on learning – Many microlearning modules are designed as pull learning, that is, the learners access them when and where they want it. Unlike the traditional long WBTs, microlearning may be accessed anytime, not only through LMS but also through emails, employee portals, public sites, or even downloaded on phones and tablets. This enables the learners to plan a microlearning module at their convenience, whenever they have a window of 10-15 minutes. The focus on one learning objective promotes learning satisfaction.

Engaging output that facilitates retention – As discussed earlier, microlearning may be published in various modes, such as iPDFs, videos, mLearnings, simulations, quiz, or a game. This blend of learning modes engages the learner and enhances the overall learning experience.

Where and How to use Microlearning in a Training Program?

The design and mode of Microlearning is usually driven by the point of learning need it addresses.

Microlearning may be used in any or all of the following stages of learning cycle:

  • Building Awareness – This includes the initial communication or overview that needs to be shared at the start of a program. The intent is to pique curiosity and build awareness. Output could be in the format of Promotional or informational videos, Overview iPDFs, infomailers and infographics.
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  • Build Skills and Knowledge – This includes traditional learning content and is done well using mlearning, eBytes, interactive videos, and simulations.
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  • Promote Practice and Assessment – Here the microlearning components are supportive of the training program. The components include Quiz, Gamification, and simulations.
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  • Performance Support – Learners need reinforcement modules after attending the formal learning program, especially when they start applying the learning in real life. This may be presented as refresher iPDF, Job Aids, or reinforcement quiz.
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  • Collaborative Learning – As people start applying their learning on the job, they gain new experiences and insight. This may be captured within a peer group in the form of discussions, sharing experiences and case studies, and content creation using portals and mobile apps.

Identifying the appropriate learning strategy depending on the point of learning need and profile of standard learners helps in establishing a clear microlearning strategy that best suits your organization. At Exult, we lay emphasis on TNA findings about Performance Objectives, Audience Profile, and content domain we weave an appropriate microlearning strategy into the training design.