Editor’s Note: This blog post has been updated in January 2022.
Microlearning has been firmly holding the spotlight in the eLearning universe. And L&D gurus and expert opinions have put Microlearning on the watchlist yet again for eLearning trends in 2022.
Before we delve deeper into what makes microlearning one of the top eLearning trends in 2022, let us quickly recap what is microlearning, and explore its significance in corporate training. Through the course of this blog, we will also be looking at compelling microlearning statistics and key microlearning examples from organizations. We believe that this blog will provide a comprehensive view on the very concept of microlearning for organizational L&D.
Table of Contents
Microlearning, as the name suggests, is learning in small chunks, where the training is delivered in small bites, i.e., short bursts of content in text and/or multimedia, providing specific information aimed at delivering one learning objective.
It can be informal, such as a TED Talk or a segment of a structured eLearning course, or even a performance support capsule. Having said that, there are two consistent features of this medium regardless of where and how it is deployed:
Brevity – this is the one underlying, non-negotiable characteristic that defines this medium of instruction. The duration could range from a few seconds to up to 15 minutes. Although when the microlearning module is restricted under 10 minutes, it has a better reach with its target audience. This blog here explores the concept of the ideal length of microlearning modules.
Single idea/granularity – the content is confined to ONE specific topic, idea, or concept.
Why is Microlearning climbing up the popularity charts, especially in the corporate learning space?
Most companies are stretched for time regarding employee learning and development. With limited ‘spare’ time and a shorter attention span of the average individual, the chances of completing a traditional in-depth macrolearning eLearning course are much lower than digesting a pint-sized chunk of a focused microlearning intervention.
This approach not only makes learning easier, engaging, and effective for the learners but also allows the company to push through specific learning goals with greater traction with less or no disruption of work. Which corporation would not want that?
Also, micro-learning can be delivered in diverse ways – desktop, video, mobile. Access anywhere, anytime allows for greater stickiness and desire to learn on the go. The completion levels automatically climb up. Interest and accountability surge and both employee and employer are satisfied.
These microlearning statistics perfectly sums up:
- Microlearning makes the transfer of learning 17% more efficient
- 8 out of 10 L&D professionals favor microlearning because their learners prefer it
- Microlearning creates 50% more engagement
- Learning in stretches of 3-7 minutes matches the working memory capacity and attention spans of humans
- Reduces development costs by 50% and increases the speed of development by 300% with micro eLearning courses.
This brings us to the inevitable comparison – Microlearning versus Macrolearning
Macrolearning, as the name suggests is learning a comprehensive body of knowledge or skill, like learning to use software, learning a subject, undergoing a company induction, etc., which includes a combination of knowledge, assessment, and feedback. It is delivered over a period through instructor-led classes, self-paced learning, eLearning courses, or even Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC).
Here is a table condensing the key differences between Macrolearning and Microlearning
At the outset of any learning intervention, macrolearning is central to understanding the context, the vision, the job, and the skills. Thereafter the learner needs repetitions and revisions of precise chunks to assure long-term retention. And that is where microlearning steps right in. Macrolearning has always battled with Return-on-Investment (ROI) and measuring the impact of the learning (training effectiveness). On the other hand, Microlearning can yield quantifiable success and instant ROI. Additionally, if the company is internally developing the microlearning modules, it is a clear win-win, as microlearning is budget-friendly, faster, and more economical to develop and update.
- Microlearning is ideally suited for diverse and eclectic use in businesses – from employee/customer onboarding, policy training, software training and motivational bytes to technical content, business processes, compliance training, or performance support.
- It can be used as a stand-alone module or blended in with structured training and learning.
- This medium allows for learning flexibility and employee autonomy, thus encouraging an atmosphere of fun and a culture of lifelong learning.
- As the learning is ‘completed’ in small, result-oriented chunks, learners experience a sense of achievement that is tangible and potent.
- As the application of knowledge is immediate, learning outcomes are immediately ascertained, and propels the learners to enthusiastically continue their learning journey.
- Microlearning is also much more easily ‘available’ than traditional learning as the module can be tagged and thus searched for and accessed.
Our brains are wired to learn at intervals, with knowledge being ingested in a ‘spaced-out’ fashion, in stretches of three to seven minutes which matches the working memory capacity and attention span of humans, especially modern-day learners. Independent studies have shown that microlearning videos are the ideal way to present training content to learners.
- Research out of the University of California, Irvine found that employees spent, on average, only 11 minutes on any given project before being interrupted by another task or request.
- A study out of the University of Rochester looked at the time students spent watching videos of various lengths for online courses; the researchers found that attention began to wander, and learners began skipping ahead when videos were longer than 9 to 12 minutes.
- A presentation at the International Conference on Applied Science and Engineering Innovation in 2015 reported that, out of a sample of 200 learners, 71% felt that Microlearning videos “expanded their horizon[s] and played a leading role in in-depth learning.”
From a neurological perspective, repetitions and revisions are integral to knowledge transfer and retention in our long-term memories. And repetitions are increasingly feasible if the content is chunked into micro-modules for quicker ingestion. As seen above, research indicates that microlearning makes for higher efficiency in learning transfer from classroom to the workplace (17 % percent higher). Microlearning, then not only lets the mind take a breather from cognitive overload but simultaneously develops effective long-term learning and memory.
This eBook on Role of Cognitive Science in Designing Modern Workplace Learning is extensively detailed and makes for a great read to explore the effects of Microlearning.
The Future of Microlearning
Microlearning is most emphatically here to stay. That being the case, let us gaze into the crystal ball and see where microlearning would trend, or have the maximum impact.
Mobile: sounds like a no-brainer, isn’t it? This device has moved beyond the limitations of a mere gadget. A fully-functioning device, the mobile is our comfort zone when it comes to consuming information – be it social media or news, or relaxation/entertainment for our minds. Microlearning then is ideal for learning on the go, on this versatile device – pick up a new concept/knowledge/skill while you are waiting in the traffic, at the hypermarket, hospital waiting room – anywhere, and at any time. Companies must leverage this aspect to fetch greater success in learning and development.
Access a case study to discover how a leading transportation solution company went mobile with its learning.
Social Learning: Mobile microlearning will additionally lead to social learning. Through learners’ need for interaction, collaboration, appreciation, and recognition, learning becomes an even more fun and engaging experience. The use of social media applications will enrich learner experiences and capitalize on the many merits of informal learning.
Read this case study to discover how Origin Learning helped a leading luxury travel retailer train employees by deploying a future-ready social learning platform.
Incorporating Emerging Technologies – Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) solutions in microlearning is a definitive and potent method to engage learners in real-world learning without real-world challenges and limitations. It also boosts confidence in the application of learning when simulation platforms are available as a safe, secure space for practice.
Gamification: Leverages interactivity and collaboration at its heightened best, allowing for rewarding engagement (with the use of avatars, and collectibles) with the learner with immediate results. A combination module that imbibes microlearning and gamification concepts is sure to get the learners excited and motivated.
This video here further explains why and how gamification can be effectively deployed by organizations to train the workforce.
Remarkable Use Cases of Microlearning or Microlearning Examples from Leading Organizations
Use Case 1: A leading consulting firm was commissioned by a healthcare enterprise to improve outcomes for patients by creating a more customer-centric healthcare experience. A structured change management process and adoption to high-reliability principles was the urgent need of the hour.
Discover how the bite-sized training phenomenon delivered big impact and mega outcomes, from training to implementation and measurement. Microlearning paved the way for superior learning outcomes and sustainable learning practices at the workplace. Read the detailed case study that includes challenges, microlearning solution framework with snapshots of the modules deployed.
Use Case 2: Compliance Training is a necessary step for every employee. While it is usually long, lengthy, and unattractive, undertaking such training becomes a chore for most. However, a Fortune 500 enterprise wanted to change this very perception and infuse a fresh perspective to make Code of Conduct Training more than just an annual mandate. With over 10,000 employees across 47 countries, how did the organization reimagine Compliance Training to make it personalized and relevant?
How did the concepts of embedded learning and microlearning fare in the organization’s quest? Discover the entire story, through this insightful case study. The solution won the coveted gold medal in the Brandon Hall Group’s Excellence in Learning awards in 2021.
Use Case 3: A growth-stage company with limited resources had its task cut out for them. With limited resources, product engineers had to singularly focus on product development. However, training all the stakeholders about the new product was a key component to drive product adoption.
How could the enterprise achieve all these and more in a short period of time? High-impact, quick results, and soaring ROI was the need. Read the trendsetting case study here to discover how end-to-end learning solutions were created and deployed.
How did the company achieve superlative product adoption while saving USD 2.9 million? Find answers to all in the enclosed case study.
From the above scope and endless possibilities, it is evident that Microlearning will be increasingly explored by organizations for their employees. It works well for learners across generations, across industries and across diverse topics.
Are you looking for microlearning solutions for your organization? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to discover the possibilities.