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There was a time when the only way to learn something was to sit in a classroom and listen to a lecture.
That time has come and gone. Sadly, many organizations have been slow to catch up with the times, relying on outdated training methods, which are ineffective and expensive.
According to Deloitte, companies spend $130 billion annually on training, but only 0.5 percent believe their programs have the desired effect. Even worse, a study by Docebo found that one in three employees feel that their training is outdated, pushing them to find resources online.
With the increasing proliferation of remote and hybrid workforces, the need for more effective training methods is greater than ever. Not only do employees need to be able to learn in a way that suits their needs and schedules, but organizations need to find ways to save money on training costs.
Data on current learning trends paints a clear picture: employees want quick, convenient, and to-the-point training. They don't have time for long, drawn-out courses irrelevant to their jobs.
The average employee has 11 minutes of uninterrupted time to learn something new each day. Between meetings, family obligations, and their personal lives, there is simply not enough time in the day to sit through a two-hour training session.
People are increasingly turning to microlearning—short, simple bursts of information that can be easily consumed and applied to the task at hand. As a 2016 report from Software Advice points out, more employees would be willing to learn “if employers broke up the content into multiple, shorter lessons.”
Not only is micro-learning more convenient for employees, but it's also more effective. EddApp, a micro-learning platform, found that its users had a 90 percent completion rate for courses, compared to the average completion rate of 15 percent for traditional eLearning programs.
Microlearning takes advantage of the way our brains are wired. Research on human memory suggests we are more likely to remember information if it is presented in small chunks. We are also more likely to apply what we've learned if we can immediately use it in our work.
Another advantage of microlearning is that it lends itself well to mobile learning, which is becoming increasingly popular as people access training on their smartphones and other devices.
Microlearning is also adaptable, which means you can customize it to the needs of each learner. As opposed to traditional training programs, microlearning allows employees to focus on the topics most relevant to their job and their experience level.
Finally, microlearning is cost-efficient. Because it is shorter and more straightforward than traditional training methods, it takes less time and resources to develop. Ray Jimenez, Ph.D., author of 3-minute eLearning, estimates that microlearning can reduce training costs by as much as 50 percent and boost development speed by 300 percent.
Each factor—effectiveness, cost-efficiency, and adaptability—makes microlearning attractive for organizations looking to improve their training programs.
Despite its many advantages, microlearning is not a silver bullet. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution and will not work in every situation. As with any training method, there are certain situations where microlearning is more appropriate than others.
When deciding whether to use microlearning, organizations need to consider their training goals and the needs of their employees. Microlearning is best suited for situations in which employees need to learn a specific skill or task and in which they will be able to apply what they've learned immediately.
It is also essential to consider the learning preferences of your employees. Some people learn best by doing and will benefit from hands-on training. Others prefer to learn through listening or watching and will do better with video-based instruction.
Performing a needs analysis can help determine if microlearning is the right solution for your organization. Once you've decided to use microlearning, you can do a few things to ensure your microlearning program is successful.
First, make sure that your microlearning modules are well-designed. Be clear and concise and focus on a single learning objective. Each module should be self-contained, and employees must be able to complete it in one sitting.
Second, use various media to deliver your modules, keeping employees engaged and ensuring there is something for everyone. For instance, you can use videos, infographics, articles, and podcasts.
Third, use gamification to make learning more fun and engaging, which can be as simple as adding points or badges or as complex as designing a full-fledged game.
Finally, ensure that you provide employees with plenty of opportunities to practice what they've learned. Simulations, exercises, and real-world tasks are great ways to help employees apply their new knowledge.
Regardless of your chosen method, the most important thing is to ensure that your employees are learning. Provide them with feedback, give them opportunities to improve, and adjust your program to meet the needs of your employees.
As learning practices evolve, microlearning will likely play an increasingly important role. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of microlearning and carefully considering its appropriateness for your organization, you can ensure that your training program is effective and efficient.
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