Learner disengagement is a challenging issue L&D teams deal with – in spite of creating engaging learning content that is easily accessible. In this article, I showcase how microlearning can simultaneously engage learners and boost performance.
Where Does ‘Actual’ Learning Happen in the Modern Work World?
While childhood learning focuses on what knowledge is useful to them later in life, andragogy is learner- and situation-centric. Adult learning, in today’s corporate world, is about direct application. Two ways in which learning typically happens are as follows:
- Moment of need learning: Learning something at the moment when its application is most critical, for example, learning a feature in the new Payroll system so the employee can input their timesheet now!
- Learning in the flow of work: This is about learning so the employee may enhance their performance or carry out a work step more efficiently – while working.
And most learning today happens outside of formal learning environments. Adults in the workforce learn:
- Informally: As a result of watching others or through interactions with mentors, peers, and colleagues.
- Through social and collaborative learning: Social interactions outside the workplace, when working on group projects, or collaborating on work-based initiatives.
Understanding these learner-centric nuances is critical for L&D professionals to create effective learning, especially in today’s hybrid workplace.
Why Is Microlearning a Great Fit for Driving Learning and Performance in the Hybrid Workplace?
Our work world is a super busy place and using bite-sized microlearning nuggets, L&D teams can create learner-centric learning journeys personalized for every learner. Because each learner learns differently, microlearning may be tailored to create an impact at various cognition levels.
The learning environment challenges of a hybrid workforce are varied too. Unless trainers consider elements, such as time and place, technological abilities, distractions, preferred modes of learning, learning priorities, comprehension levels, potential for application etc., when designing training, corporate training may not meet its learning objectives.
Microlearning offers the flexibility, ease of consumption, and engagement that matches learner needs and expectations.
Why Do Most Organizations Get Microlearning Wrong?
Unfortunately, most organizations get microlearning wrong. They believe simply “chunking up” existing curriculum will do the trick. Wrong!
To successfully leverage microlearning, L&D teams must first understand their audience’s needs – including learning preferences, learning needs, and the learning challenges of hybrid learners – before developing short, action-oriented, learning nuggets for targeted outcomes. Then, package the content in ways that learners can readily apply them to their job.
Here are some tips and best practices for microlearning success:
- Design modular, small-footprint microlearning content in the context of workflow. Ensure the content remains focused on specific (one or two) outcomes.
- Make the content “accessible,” so learners may consume it anywhere, anytime, and on any preferred device.
- Given that many virtual learners use personal networks and devices to learn, don’t overload microlearning content with unnecessary graphics or high-def content. Some hybrid learners may not have the home network bandwidth or personal data plans to support such features.
- Ensure content is intuitively hosted, so learners may quickly access them in the moment of need.
- Use a diverse mix of content, including short videos, eBooks, infographics, podcasts, summary PDFs, sample checklists, quick reference guides, and “How to…” content.
- Make sure formal training links extensively to your bank of microlearning content, so learners may use them for review and refresher purposes.
- When designing formal ILT and VILT, make use of microlearning as pre, during, and post learning content to help learners access optional and supplementary materials. This will reinforce their trust in such resources and help them explore and discover the power of microlearning as a performance enhancer.
Examples of Microlearning in Corporate Training
Here are some great real-world examples of microlearning in action in the corporate training world.
Microlearning Example 1 – Creating an On-demand Learning Solution for Training Trainers
The purpose of this course was to create a sustainable, simplistic, on-demand training that volunteer trainers could use at their moments of need and incidentally learn concepts in the process.
- Immersive microlearning formats were used as the primary approach, and this was amalgamated with numerous scenarios derived from real-life instances and several performance support materials as downloadable documents.
- Concepts were driven through relatable scenarios to make learning relevant along with performance support tools.
- Microlearning formats like videos and podcast-based activities through minimalist designs were utilized for an immersive experience.
- Overall, the course boosted learners’ confidence to facilitate live sessions and be able to apply their learnings from the training directly in their training sessions.
Microlearning Example 2 – Empowering Leaders Through Just-in-time Learning Solutions
The purpose of this course was to build a comprehensive series of leadership trainings to equip and empower leaders in developing themselves and their teams successfully.
- A microlearning approach was applied to provide just-in-time learning using appropriate formats such as videos, relatable practice scenarios, interactive learning elements, and a wide range of downloadable performance support tools that leaders could consume on the go.
- It involved a range of videos as a key mode for bite-sized learning and performance support and short, intuitive practice scenarios to promote decision making as part of micro challenges.
- This course positively impacted the performance efficiency of leaders post the completion of the training (ESAT surveys) and promoted higher completion rates due to the just-in-time format.
Microlearning Example 3 – Driving an Acculturation Program Through an Immersive Learning Experience
The purpose of this course was to familiarize employees with their organization’s culture, vision, mission, and values in a consistent and impactful manner while pushing a steady behavioral change.
- A portal based microlearning approach was used to ensure easy access for all learning nuggets and further powering through short, gamified micro assessments to provide fun yet meticulous cognition checks.
- Gamified micro activities were interspersed for cognition checks and practice through fully mobile responsive designs. Learning continuum was ensured through action plans provided as performance support tools at the end of each nugget.
- Employees felt a sense of increased engagement and participation and were able to demonstrate the behavioral aspects of the organization’s culture as a result of the training.
Microlearning Example 4 – Enhancing Mentoring Programs for Leaders Through Microlearning
A unique microlearning program was created for an FMCG giant that transforms the way their leaders perceive a crucial process like mentoring.
- It featured short, succinct concepts for effective learning by employing ‘microlearning within a macrolearning path’ and making the learning available for leaders on their mobile phones at all times.
- The course styled custom illustrated visuals depicting microlearning nuggets with a macrolearning journey for a clear bird’s eye view. Crisp analogies were used to convey concepts, and infographics and iPDFs were provided as takeaways or job aids.
- Leaders acknowledged informed application of mentoring concepts that helped both mentors and mentees with significantly higher enrollment in mentor-mentee programs at an organizational level post the training.
Microlearning Example 5 – Empowering New Joiners Through a Compact Learning Nugget
The primary goal of the training was to introduce new joiners to the IT function and familiarize them with the commonly used collaboration tools and resources. The training also aimed at sensitizing the audience to the basic aspects of information security.
- Several microlearning formats such as videos, short scenarios, activities, and a gamified assessment were used to increase learner engagement.
- The training leveraged a mentor-mentee approach, and the conversations made the experience highly immersive.
- The learning journey involved visiting two departments in the IT function and interacting with experts to gain knowledge on the tools and resources available for new hires.
- An activity-driven approach ensured “learning by doing.”
- The use of a new joiner as the central character made the experience completely relatable to the learners and turned out to be a key success factor for the training.
Super busy workers today have less “disposable” time to dedicate to self-improvement. Virtual employees, in the hybrid workplace, have environment-related challenges that test their engagement levels and make it harder to access learning content. The use of short-form microlearning content—as core learning, performance support, and job improvement tools—is an ideal solution to these challenges.
While supporting learning at the point of need, and learning in the flow of work, microlearning nuggets don’t overly tax a learner’s span of attention, while also making learning more engaging and fun. The net result: Corporate trainers meet their learning objectives, while all learners in today’s hybrid workplace have equal opportunity to learn new skills, enhance existing ones, and improve their performance.
I hope the microlearning examples in this article help you engage your learners as well as simultaneously boost performance.
Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.
- eBook: How to Conduct an L&D Audit and Prepare a Strategic Plan for the Future
- Change Employee Behavior in the Workplace with These 5 High-impact Corporate Training Strategies
- How to Offset the Forgetting Curve in Your Employee Learning Programs with Microlearning
- How to Build Employee Learning Habits and Drive Continuous Learning in the Workplace with Microlearning
- How to Blend Microlearning and Macrolearning to Deliver a Higher Impact Workplace Training
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