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Published on:
February 1, 2021

Microlearning: Bite Size your eLearning

Introduction

The term microlearning has become a buzzword in the eLearning industry. Indeed, it is an approach that comes with huge benefits for the instructors/administrators and the learners. The success of this mode of learning is based on its ability to bridge various training gaps.

This concept is best-suited to online training owing to the time-constraints characteristic of today’s learners. It offers flexibility and convenience to the learners and helps them to meet their learning objectives.

Microlearning has been reported to increase learner engagement by 50% while enhancing knowledge retention. It has also been linked with reduced training and development costs. Consequently, 80% of L&D (Learning and Development) professionals opt for microlearning for their training initiatives.

In the corporate scene, a LinkedIn and Capgemini study reported that half of all employees in various organizations found their employers’ training initiatives to be boring or insufficient. To add, these workers could only devote 1% of their workweek to corporate training.

There is, therefore, the need to incorporate learning strategies that maximize the training objectives set by various organizations.

Microlearning is one of the most common elearning topics. For information on other popular elearning topics, visit this page.

What is Microlearning?

Microlearning is the means of delivering course content in small bits that can easily be delivered, tested, and marked. It involves learning in small steps and is associated with traditional eLearning.

It is a simplified way of delivering course content that achieves overall training and learner objectives without overloading the learner with too much information. In fact, it is fast becoming a popular trend in the eLearning industry.

Mostly, micro-learning activities include short lessons, coursework, and projects that are created to provide the learner with bite-sized information. For instance, the instructor will break a broad topic into smaller ones and deliver them to learners as opposed to teaching the broad topic all at once.

In practice, microlearning is well-utilized at the learner’s point of convenience; where they will realize its maximum potential. For instance, since videos are very powerful eLearning tools, breaking down a video about a topic into a series of smaller videos will have a much greater impact as opposed to delivering one lengthy video.

In perspective, we interact with microlearning on a daily basis. For instance, when reading our social media timelines to update ourselves with the latest news, we usually get bite-sized information. Another example is reading through a work-related manual broken down into smaller topics.

Content Used for Microlearning

Microlearning is structured into chunks, each covering a specific aspect of the greater topic. These chunks can stand alone as individual topics or be clustered together to cover a broader subject.

There are various types of microlearning content but the following are the most common:

  • Presentations
  • Ebooks
  • Short videos
  • Engaging videos
  • Infographics
  • Animations
  • Quizzes
  • Process maps

How to Choose the Right Type of Media

The aim of training is to deliver courseware in the best and most effective way. Video is a type of ‘rich content’ medium well-suited for eLearning. Another example is infographics; a visual representation of data or information. Infographics present large pieces of information in a digestible and appealing format.

Examples of Microlearning

Some successful examples of microlearning include TED Talks, YouTube, and Khan Academy. Ted Talks are short but informative instructor-led sessions that cover various aspects of life. Though there is little to no interaction between the presenter and the audience (learners), TED Talks are very engaging as evidenced by their YouTube channel’s popularity and user comments.

YouTube is also a good avenue for instructors to present their content in bite sizes. The platform allows you to create a channel where you can upload videos. Microlearning can be seen at work on YouTube when a content creator uploads a series of videos all covering different aspects of a topic.

Khan Academy is the best example of a microlearning environment. Instructors mostly use videos to deliver content. Quizzes and games are other media they use for microlearning.

Advantages of Microlearning

Engagement: Instructors constantly seek for learners’ attention. Creating short content that suits the learners’ styles is sure to keep them engaged.

Speed up course production: It is easier and faster to create many bits of courseware than it is to produce one large course. You will also produce more content if you create bits of information.

Improved retention: The learner takes a shorter amount of time to complete a learning unit. In turn, such learning can be done frequently which improves knowledge retention.

Better understanding: Shorter, simplified topics are digested and easily retained compared to larger, complex ones. 

Mobile learning: Microlearning is suited for mobile learning. Small units of learning can easily be viewed, streamed, or downloaded on 3G and 4G devices. They can also be completed in time frames that fit the learner’s schedule. While on the go, a learner can interact with his/her LMS platform and consume several bite-sized modules of a particular course.

Higher ROI (Return on Investment): Completion rates and low retention are concerns common in eLearning. According to learners, longer courses are complex to digest and usually come in the way of their daily activities. Based on a Software Advice’s report, 50 % of workers would use their organizations’ learning tools if courses were shorter.

Ease of distribution: Smaller content can easily be uploaded onto a cloud where it can be accessed by learners anywhere at any time.

Lower development costs: Leaning that is microlearning-based reduces development costs by 50%. It also increases the speed of development by 300%. This is because there are fewer overhead costs characteristic of traditional offline training. Also, it is less time-consuming and easier to upload and update digital content, especially if the courses are shorter.

Disadvantages of Microlearning

This model of learning is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. You need to establish its value and practicality before deploying it. Some disadvantages of this method include:

Complex topics: If the subject matter requires a lot of details and research, a traditional approach where a longer course is the only solution should be employed. Some subject matter just can’t be taught in bite-sized portions.

Larger learning outcomes: Microlearning is great for topic introductions and refresher courses. However, in some cases, and based on learning outcomes, combining this strategy with elements of traditional learning may yield the best results.

Guidelines

Below are some guidelines when implementing microlearning in your organization:

Opt for easier topics: If a course is highly-detailed, it will require a lot of research which may result in a lengthy course. Complex topics are not suited for microlearning. Content should easily be digested by the learner if learning objectives are to be met.

Consider your audience: Microlearning is more suited for some audiences than others. You should consider if your learners have the experience of such a mode of learning and if their learning objectives are suited for microlearning.

Don’t add loads of information: Only do small digestible chunks of learning material. For instance, if using video, you can do 4 to 5-minute modules. Also, focus on relevant information that will help to pass your message.

Use multimedia: Adding elements such as images, gifs, video, and other graphics will appeal to your learners resulting in higher engagement and an enriched learning experience.

Use high-quality content: Don’t upload low-quality images or videos just because smaller chunks are required. Low-quality content will not appeal to your audience and this may affect their retention and completion rates.

Test learners: Quizzes, short exams, and questionnaires are a perfect way to ensure if learners are achieving their learning outcomes.

Use when necessary: Microlearning is not a replacement for longer courses. It is only effective for engaging learners where necessary such as in refresher courses. In some cases, you will have to do longer courses.

Gamify: Gamification will boost engagement by rewarding learners through points, badges, and leaderboards. If you combine it with microlearning, the result is a more enhanced learning experience.

Conclusion

Microlearning is an effective way of engaging your learners which, in turn, helps them realize their learning objectives. If implemented in the right way, the results can be impressive. While creating courses on your LMS platform, consider microlearning as one of the strategies of bringing out the best of your system and learning strategy.


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