There are many different types of learning: social learning, mobile learning, and elearning are just a few. A relatively new type of learning that’s attracting attention is microlearning. Think of it as small learning units or bite sized pieces of content.
We use microlearning on a regular basis – we just don’t call it microlearning. Here’s an example. I recently wanted to roast a chicken and, to prepare the chicken, I wanted to truss it. But I didn’t know how. So I went on YouTube, found a two-minute video and viola! I knew how to truss a chicken. People are using short videos to learn all the time.
Which is exactly why organizations might want to consider adding microlearning to their offerings. Here are a few things to consider when discussing microlearning as part of your current learning strategy:
- 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.
The new learning 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.
P.S. I’m very excited to be facilitating a virtual seminar for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on L&D: Developing Organizational Talent. We’ll be talking about how to design learning initiatives. Details about the learning objectives can be found on the SHRM website. I hope you can join us.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the 34th Street Graffiti Wall in Gainesville, FL12