Microlearning is a buzzword used widely in the elearning industry. Apparently, chunking learning content into small pieces of 3 to 5 minutes solves the gravest of the L&D problems like learner engagement, lack of time, and even short memory span of modern learners, etc.
Most of this buzz blasphemously disregards three strategic aspects of Microlearning: Content Design, Learning Design and Learning Delivery. And in doing so, knowingly or unknowingly, the true potential of Microlearning is being undermined. Microlearning is a disruptive learning strategy which goes way beyond content chunking.
Unfortunately, most of the vendors promote Microlearning as an off-the-shelf product/solution which can be used like a genie’s lamp to solve all the learning and development issues in your organisation.
Microlearning is not a technological solution; it is a learning strategy and needs to be implemented as one.
So DO NOT just buy a learning Microlearning Product (authoring tool or delivery platform) before having your Microlearning strategy in place.
Let your strategy decide the technology you are going to need. But how do you strategise for implementing Microlearning?
- You have to start with your learners, do a deep analysis of what they do on a day-to-day basis.
- Break all the focussed knowledge areas into task level objectives.
- Once you have the task-level objectives, conduct surveys asking learners to rate the comfort level for each task they are performing.
- Involve the team managers and ask them to rate the same. Pick the ones with least rating to start with your pilot. Yes, a Pilot. Microlearning allows you to “Fail Fast and Fail Cheap”. So, take full advantage of this to improve your learning initiatives continuously.
Here are the 5 things that you must avoid to implement Microlearning in your digital learning initiatives successfully:
1. DO NOT chunk content, Redesign it.
Microlearning does not mean butchering existing learning content into small pieces. Imagine tearing off pages from a book and giving them to the learners to read one page in one day, will it serve the purpose? You would rather rewrite the book and create tiny booklets with a specific purpose for each of them. Similarly, you must redesign the digital content for your Microlearning initiatives. While redesigning, focus on the learning outcome of an individual content piece. Each content piece must provide value to the learners and answer a ‘How Do I…?’ question.
Bonus Tip: Tag your learning resources extensively to make them easily searchable when needed!
2. DO NOT restrict to one content format for Microlearning.
Most of the Authoring Tools vendors promote their products to be the best in the market for creating Microlearning. There are several resources that can be used effectively in your Microlearning initiatives.
For example, a daily DOs and DONTs email, a weekly video about best practices, a fortnightly gamified quiz with leaderboards, a very short slide-show about latest product updates for sales team are all the resources which can be used as Microlearning.
Why stick to one format? You can use Videos, Infographics, Quizzes, Surveys, Slide-shows, and even Emails as your microlearning resources.
Another important thing to consider is to harness knowledge and expertise in your organisation using Curation. Allow your learners to participate in content creation and enhancement via Social Layers. This user-generated content could prove to be a great help in focussed content creation as well and take some load off the L&D team.
3. DO NOT use Microlearning for everything!
Microlearning is not a solution for all the learning needs of a learner or an organisation. The other modes of learning like Classroom Training, Manuals, online courses, etc. will still be relevant as per the specific learning needs.
So where to use Microlearning?
- Reinforcement: Use micro-snippets for the Key Take-Aways from your latest Classroom Training.
- Performance Support: Quick and effective hands-on tips as micro resources would be powerful performance support for your learners.
- Product or Policy Updates: Product or Policies are frequently updated, it is difficult to change whole courses. Use micro-resources to communicate the change. Imagine your Sales Team waiting for the update of the product training course before they start selling the latest pathbreaking update in the product.
I am sure you would have many interesting ideas for using microlearning for a specific learning need, once you do the analysis of your learner’s needs and performance objectives.
4. DO NOT deliver Microlearning, Stream it!
This one is probably the most crucial tip! The traditional LMS-centric learning requires packaging and delivering of learning. Consequently, you need to prepare everything before you package because once it is packed, and most of the time, there is no way to change anything inside the package. This increases the overall turn around time for learning development to delivery.
In Microlearning, you should create learning resources and not courses. These resources can be made available to the learners as and when they are ready. Let the learners consume whatever you have developed and seek feedback. Improve the next resources based on the feedback and stream them when they are ready. Create a constant stream of these learning resources aligned to the journey of an employee in your organisation.
5. DO NOT forget to Measure and Improve.
I am deliberately using the word Measure instead of tracking. Most of the learning platforms are focussed on tracking learner’s activity like time spent, scores earned, courses completed, etc. You need to focus on measuring the impact of learning. What changed? Were there improvements in knowledge, productivity and behaviour? You will need deeper insights to improve your learning initiatives iteratively.
Now that you have your Microlearning Strategy in place, you can ask the following questions to decide an effective learning platform for you Microlearning initiatives:
- Does the learning platform allow you the flexibility and agility to create and stream Microlearning?
- Are there Content Creation, Curation and Social Features available?
- Does it allow you to tag learning resources to make them searchable?
- Does it go beyond tracking scores and give you analytical insights?