What is microlearning?
Microlearning replaces lengthy and wearing training sessions with regular, bite-size hits of learning. It involves focusing on explaining a single idea in a short and engaging burst, making it as clear and memorable as possible. This single asset can be joined with multiple others, to explain more complicated concepts and skills in a whole learning program. Typically in eLearning, each of these assets are 5-7 minutes in length.
The rise of mobile learning has brought about a firm movement towards this approach, as it enables users to drop in and out of their courses wherever they are.
When we don’t have the time to spare on a long period of teaching, courses delivered in short bursts are the most convenient way to learn. More and more learning takes place “on the go,” for example on a mobile device during a commute.
Not only is microlearning more convenient in day-to-day life, it is also perfectly attuned to the way we retain information. Quick, intense shots of learning make the most of the best part of our attention span.
Microlearning on a Learning Management System
Learning that is divided up into easy-access modules of content also lends itself well to a Learning Management System. When training content is hosted on an LMS, users can revisit any of these quick bursts of training immediately, whenever they need reminding.
Microlearning assets are most effective when they are published with the functionality to repeat and practice the lesson, and crucially to receive feedback. The user needs feedback to assess if they understand the content correctly. Learning Management Systems allow these micro learning assets to be used as multipurpose resources for initial teaching, repeated learning, and performance support for immediate use.
Benefits and cautions
Microlearning is both fun and effective. Its flexible nature and quick application means that learning is not a chore, and it seems to be ideally suited to the way our brains are wired.
It is important however to keep certain things in mind before jumping straight into turning your training strategy into microlearning.
Think about your audience
Though this seems like an obvious first point, it can be missed in the enthusiasm to get started with microlearning. A key benefit of microlearning is that it doesn’t waste the user’s time, so make sure that the material you are delivering through these short assets is all relevant and useful to your target learners.
The premise of microlearning is to deliver manageable sections of information, traditionally on a single idea, in a short burst. Trying to cram too much learning into a single asset misses this point and risks making the learning material even more confusing and overwhelming than it was on the older forms of training courses.
Allow users to revisit
It’s not an absolute imperative, but if your users can’t come back to material that they have covered to refresh the lessons in their minds, you’re missing out on a key benefit of microlearning. Quick access to specific points and lessons means that users can refer back to learning content if they need to while they apply the training in real life, or when they feel they need a reminder, without having to trawl through a whole course.
LMSs are good platforms to host microlearning content for this reason, as the ability to return to lessons are part of their key functionality.