During this year’s ATD International Conference and Expo, I had the chance to hear Stephen Meyer, CEO of the Rapid Learning Institute, discuss the topic of microlearning. It’s defined as small learning units or bite sized pieces of content. I think it’s different from social learning, mobile learning or even elearning, which we’ve talked about before. Microlearning appears to be new to the scene and, based upon the standing room only crowd at Meyer’s session during the conference, I’d say it’s worth paying some attention.
As it pertains to microlearning, I walked away with 5 takeaways that organizations should consider:
- It’s easy to produce. Please notice I didn’t say cheap. Although by definition, microlearning would be shorter than standard training and therefore should be cost effective to produce, it’s possible an organization would have more microlearning options available. That being said, I can see microlearning topics being less complex to design and implement than, let’s say, a traditional elearning project.
- It’s flexible. Microlearning can be classified as “on demand” if participants can access it whenever and wherever they wish. It could also be called “just-in-time” if it’s used to refresh/remind/teach someone something immediately before they need it. For example, a manager may want to review the steps of counseling an employee right before meeting with them.
- It fits today’s technology. One of my mantras is making stuff “easy to buy and easy to use.” Meaning that people who are trying to engage with the organization shouldn’t get the run-around. Because microlearning is focused on a single concept, it can be created using a simplistic process, it can be easy for the company to share, and easy for employees to view.
- It can complement your existing programs. I’ve already mentioned microlearning being able to provide a refresher or reminder. It can do that as a follow-up to a traditional classroom learning experience. Instead of searching for the paper participant guide, an employee can search for the microlearning session. It can provide a solution in a moment of need.
- It could be a coaching tool. I think of coaching as being able to help someone reach their goals. Part of helping someone could be sharing with them resources that will improve their skills and knowledge. Managers could use microlearning as part of their employee coaching toolbox. When an employee is stuck and needs some assistance, a manager could recommend microlearning sessions.
There are so many different ways we can learn. That’s a good thing because participants can find a learning method that they connect with. I also understand it’s difficult from a corporate learning perspective because how do you justify the time and resources to create all these different learning methods. That being said, the new methods emerging right now – concepts like microlearning – have tremendous flexibility and can bring us a return on investment in more ways than one. Something that traditional classroom training might not be able to do. It doesn’t mean ditch classroom training – it means give microlearning a try.
Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby