The cognitive architecture of humans has remained the same for thousands of years, processing a few chunks of information at a time. Organized chunks of information fed through interactive media offer the flexibility to learn a new skill or a subject at our own pace and gain a quick understanding that is retainable and ready to be implemented on the job. Microlearning strategies serve this purpose well.
Microlearning deals with relatively small learning units and is a comprehensive approach for skill-based learning and education. In this instructional strategy, one uses several types of learning media: interactive videos, 360-degree videos, rich media PDFs, flashcards, eBooks, and many other formats, to breakdown complex topics into manageable nuggets.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has had a severe impact on businesses at large. Services were interrupted, factories were shut down and brands were facing the threat of diminished reputation if their workers or products are exposed to the coronavirus. Adequate training was the best means to prepare the workforce to tackle the challenges of the new normal.
Such challenging times have paved the way for the rapid adoption of many creative instructional strategies that were previously adopted at a slow pace. Microlearning is one such solution, serving effectively for broader training initiatives, ad hoc compliance training, performance support, and more. Assets used in microlearning are compact, and modalities such as games, videos, infographics are easily embedded with the training content, making them more interesting for the learners to assimilate information.
While microlearning strategies were used to various degrees in specific contexts, the adoption rate is rapidly increasing across industries and across many learning areas.
Corporate L&D (Learning & Development) and Training
With work from home becoming prevalent across various business sectors, onboarding of new joiners in the organization has been majorly revamped. virtual onboarding has become the norm today. Helping new personnel adapt to their roles and to company culture is vital to the overall success of an organization.
Speed to the competency of new hires is one of the most critical goals of L&D teams irrespective of the industry they work in. Specifically, in industries where fresh graduates are a predominant mix of new hires, onboarding training frameworks deploy various training strategies and is usually a long-drawn process. Onboarding training is therefore an effective tool in helping employees start successfully contributing to an organization’s business goals within the shortest possible timeframe.
Microlearning strategies largely help in effective onboarding, due to the flexibility it offers to use varied learning formats and ease of delivery. The modularity of this specific learning strategy also offers a learning architect the flexibility to create impactful learning pathways, for learners to achieve learning goals with ease, by mixing and matching training content.
Orientation and Compliance Training
Given the extent of changes in workplace practices, the pandemic has brought with it, Health and safety training, updated quality control processes, ethics, and IPR compliances can all be constantly fed to the employees’ mandatory training requirements.
One can also deliver targeted content to employees in distinct roles. A customer-facing employee should follow different rules from those on a warehouse floor or in an office. According to Linkedin’s 2020 workplace learning report, learning and development professionals are increasingly positioned as strategic business partners, serving as the key to growth and innovation. In the post COVID world, talent developers are focused on finding innovative ways to drive employee engagement, and microlearning is sure to play a vital part in this transformation.
Microlearning Strategies in The Education Continuum
Microlearning has rapidly proliferated in the education sector during the new normal, as schools and universities are shut down, leaving no choice but to adopt online learning platforms. Creating engaging content that is easy to understand and remember, and easily accessible, are some of the basic expectations of the learning community today.
Remote learning is no longer a rarity in the post COVID world, as students and professionals are embracing newer learning methods, accessing knowledge repositories and organized chunks of training materials to boost their skillset.
While comprehensive learning is a major selling point for microlearning strategy, it doesn’t close the doors for extensive and in-depth learning on the subject. Brevity serves as the key in microlearning as we are looking at transforming long-format training content into sizeable chunks of learning nuggets that are easy to understand, and focused on upskilling the learner just in time for the needs. Spaced repetition of these learning modules, through options like playlists or channels in the learning platform, helps build knowledge retention.
Why Adopt Microlearning Strategies Now
As is the nature of this specific learning strategy, a concept is broken into multiple learning nuggets and flexible enough to use multiple delivery formats – simple interactive infographics to short videos and animations, media-rich PDFs, etc. – there are myriad possibilities that can be achieved in a brief time and is also cheaper to produce. Also, a specific part of learning material can be easily updated as each is a self-contained learning object, therefore reducing the overall cost associated with developing and updating learning content.
Microlearning strategies inherently take care of varied learning styles, by its use of different media types, therefore increasing the success rates. When in-person training/learning sessions are riskier to conduct, and almost a year that is passing by since the pandemic-forced disruption to businesses, adopting microlearning strategies and applying them creatively can be a useful long-term strategy that Learning Architects and L&D managers can adopt at scale.