Executive Summary: Microlearning is a new and popular method of learning. It involves delivering bite-sized chunks of information in a way that is easy to consume and retain. Microlearning at the workplace uses small and specific learning units to help employees achieve learning objectives. It is designed to meet the needs of learners with limited time or attention. This article discusses the various formats and challenges associated with implementing microlearning at the workplace. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the target audience and their needs, and of delivering content in a way that is engaging and informative. The article also highlights the importance of choosing the right format, such as videos, quizzes, or interactive simulations, and of providing feedback and tracking employees’ progress. It also provides best practices for microlearning at the workplace, such as designing content that is focused on a specific learning objective, using visuals and multimedia to enhance engagement, and providing opportunities for learners to apply their new knowledge.
Microlearning at the workplace is an instructional design approach that involves delivering small, focused bits of information to learners in a way that is easy to consume and retain. It is characterized by its use of short, targeted learning units designed to meet specific learning objectives. The units are typically delivered in various formats, such as videos, quizzes, or interactive simulations, and are designed to be consumed in a matter of minutes.
Microlearning at the workplace is an effective approach for employee training, as it allows employees to quickly acquire new information and skills in a way that is easy to consume and retain. Its bite-sized chunks of information are designed to meet specific learning objectives. This makes it a perfect fit for employee training programs.
Microlearning at the workplace allows employees to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule. It targets the specific needs of employees, and it allows organizations to track employee progress and provide feedback on their performance. By implementing microlearning in employee training programs, organizations can see real results in terms of improved learning outcomes and increased productivity.
Microlearning uses various formats to disseminate information in short pieces. The use of relatable and easy language, visual aids, gamification mechanics, and interactive assets define the general format of microlearning content. Let’s look at some effective formats of microlearning below:
People forget nearly 90% of what they have learnt within just 7 days, unless the concepts are reinforced. That’s why employees swamped with documents, presentations, and classroom sessions are not likely to learn much.
However, time constraints make it difficult to reinforce vast concepts.
What can you do instead? Arm your employees with one concept at a time. Studies show the human attention span is only 8.25 seconds, so keep your training concise.
RapL is your software for that.
Content Formats for Microlearning at the Workplace
- Infographics: As the name suggests, infographics offer key points in a summarized form, with attractive graphics. Not only does this make it fun to look at, but also allows employees to understand and visualize the information more effectively. This method can be used to quickly teach new employees about company policies, rules, etc.
- One-Pager PDFs: These PDFs can be sent, downloaded, and accessed from anywhere. These are best if you want to go into more detail than infographics, and they have all the visual interest too.
- Quiz: Interactive quizzes are an interesting way to test your employees’ knowledge. Challenging questions will get them to put their thinking caps on, and a badge system can reward them for getting questions right. This will make the testing system fun, and keep your employees motivated.
- Assignments: Projects and assignments will allow your employees to apply their newly-learned skills to a practical scenario. This is a great way for them to see how their training will help them in their everyday work.
- Assessments: Regular assessments will ensure your employees can test themselves and stay on track. Using intriguing questions will stimulate their thinking and compel them to recall or review the material.
- Surveys: Periodic surveys will help you determine how your employees are faring in their new training. You can also analyze their thoughts about the new formats, and use the data to keep improving the material.
- Polls: Polls are an interesting way to test your employees on what they have learned. Structure the questions in a fun way, and provide two challenging options to choose from.
- Podcasts: Employees can tune into podcasts on their morning run or on their way to work. Podcasts on communication skills, selling techniques, industry trends, etc. are just a few examples of the many concepts that employees can learn. You can even make your own podcast and send it to employees to listen to and learn from.
- Videos: Short videos are the best way to learn something new. Combining visual and auditory aids creates the most engaging format of microlearning. For example, many content creators are using platforms such as Instagram to make ‘Reels’ – short, vertical videos that can be up to a minute long. Creators use this engaging and immersive video experience to share their insight on several topics. Most prominently, the content on Reels ranges from financial management advice, tips to succeed in interviews, email etiquette for work, and much more. This is a great example of using short videos for learning and educational purposes.
- Blogs: Blog articles (like this one!) are a blend of modern and traditional ways of learning. There is text to read and understand, but it is presented in a concise manner and a digital format. This form of microlearning works best when your employees need something they need to learn in some detail, but quickly.
- Apps / Games: Interactive quizzes, games, and leaderboards where ‘players’ (employees) can earn badges by engaging in a little friendly competition are fresh and exciting ways to provide an immersive learning experience to employees. Designing game elements in your microlearning experience nudges participants in healthy rivalry that raises the collective bar.
While microlearning at the workplace is gaining traction, it is not without challenges. One of the biggest challenges is creating content that is both engaging and informative. It requires a deep understanding of the target audience and their needs, as well as the ability to deliver content in a way that is easily digestible. Another challenge is determining the appropriate format for delivering the content, as different formats can have a big impact on engagement and retention.
L&D leaders can make more impact by keeping these challenges in mind while designing the microlearning content and strategies. Let’s take a look at these challenges in detail below.
Challenges of Microlearning at the Workplace
- Monitoring, tracking, reporting: An important part of training is tracking the progress of your employees. How many courses they have completed, how they fare in quizzes or tests, how much time they spend on training, how etc. This information sheds light on the effectiveness of the courses and guides future planning of training and development. However, with microlearning at the workplace, this proves to be an uphill task, as study material is disseminated into several small pieces of content. So, tracking and reporting become time-consuming and cumbersome.
- Unsuitable for in-depth / complex training: Many industries require heavy training for employees to understand complex processes. In some cases, practical supervision is also necessary, especially if specific equipment is used. Microlearning is impractical for such situations, as it does not offer detailed information or practical experience required. For example, learning to operate heavy machinery in factories requires in-depth training and guidance, which bite-sized micro courses will not offer.
- Risk of fragmented learning without proper structure / management: As the training content is divided into several small pieces, it is imperative to structure the modules well. Without a proper order, flow, and delivery mechanism, it will be difficult for employees to navigate through the study material efficiently. This will lead to them learning only bits and pieces of what they see, and eventually becoming demotivated to pursue their learning goals further.
- Risk of confusion in case of poorly designed games: Although games can be exciting, they can be equally confusing and frustrating if not designed well. Game rules and regulations must be easily understandable. The interface must be intuitive, bug-free, and simple. If a learning game or app does not meet these basic requirements, your employees are more likely to abandon it, rather than enjoy it.
- Time-consuming to create microlearning content: It is a paradox that microlearning content is time-consuming to create, but unfortunately, it is true. This is because it takes a lot of time to create the content, but also to plan its flow and structure. Research may be required to understand what would appeal to your employees the most, and instructional design will need to be enhanced to ensure maximum efficiency in training delivery. Existing corporate course material will have to be redesigned and incorporated into the microlearning content, along with the new microlearning assets developed for training purposes.
Microlearning best practices include designing content that is focused on a specific learning objective, using visuals and multimedia to enhance engagement, providing opportunities for learners to apply their new knowledge, providing feedback and tracking progress, and understanding the target audience and their needs.
It is important to understand these best practices to ensure that the microlearning strategy is effective in training employees.
Best Practices of Microlearning at the Workplace
Now that we’ve looked at the benefits and challenges of microlearning at the workplace, it’s essential to learn about some best practices and do’s-and-don’ts. Keeping these points in mind will help you design more effective microlearning content for your employees, and ultimately enhance learning outcomes.
- Provide context: Since microlearning content is distributed in several small pieces, it is important to provide context about what is being taught. Essentially, this means describing a purpose and reason for this content, so that your employees understand where they may be required to apply the knowledge. This will help them connect to it, and make more sense of what they’re learning.
- Connect the microlearning strategy to broader organizational goals: An organization’s goals are only met if the employees are equal to the task, and that’s what makes any kind of training an imperative in companies. However, it is easier to lose focus with microlearning, as it is a vast and complex strategy to implement. To ensure your employees stay on course (pun intended), inform them of how their new training is an important stepping stone to achieve organizational goals. This gives them a bigger picture to focus on, strengthening their own purpose in the organization.
- Schedule content to avoid information overload: With the countless pieces of content that come with implementing a microlearning strategy, getting buried under masses of it is almost inevitable. However, this can be avoided by scheduling content deliveries to prevent an information overload. Maintain a content calendar that allows you to schedule the number of pieces released, and also updates your employees so they know exactly what needs to be done and when.
- Make microlearning content enjoyable to read and understand: Microlearning strategies focus on one thing: making the learning experience fun and enjoyable. This is important, because employees will be more motivated and engaged in the training if they’re excited about it. Ensure your training content is fun to read and appeals to your employees. Use bright graphics, attractive layouts, and experiment with new and exciting forms, such as podcasts and video, to capture your employees’ attention.
- Use mobile delivery: These days, people run their lives on smartphones, and it is no secret that the future awaits small screens that hide entire worlds behind them. So, harness the ease and accessibility of mobiles to deliver training content to your employees straight at their fingertips. Use an app that holds the content library from which your employees can easily access the training material, whenever they need it.
- Understand your audience: Before designing your microlearning strategy, do some research about what your employees will be drawn to. Send small questionnaires, have some in-person chats, and understand what will make your content most engaging. For example, if you’re planning to launch a podcast, but you discover that only 30% of your employees actually listen to podcasts, you can save yourself a lot of time and find a format that appeals to the majority.
The table below provides some important do’s and don’ts of microlearning. Be sure to consider these while designing your microlearning strategy, to get the most out of your training modules.
DO Employ an Agile Approach:
An unconventional method of training, such as microlearning, will require you to be open-minded in your approach, but agility spans far beyond mindset in the case of microlearning. Microlearning platforms enable you to receive analytics about what’s working for your employees, and you can use that data to regularly improve the program to be more efficient for them.
DON’T Consider Microlearning A Mini-course:
The small pieces of content viewed by your employees many times a day create what Google calls “micro-moments” — “intent-rich moments when decisions are made, and preferences shaped”. When your employees spend five minutes watching a short training video or reading a two-page course PDF, they intentionally seek out the learning and are actively engaged with it for those few minutes. Mini-courses still require employees to dedicate a chunk of time and energy to complete, while microlearning, on the contrary, enables you to create several “intent-rich micro-moments” in your employees’ days by offering short pieces of training content that they can view whenever they need.
DO Optimize Content Design for Small Screens:
Optimize your microlearning PDFs, images, videos, etc. for viewing on small screens, such as phones and tablets. All content should be in the vertical format to be suitable for phone viewing. Using the appropriate sizes and ensuring high visual quality will create a comfortable and intuitive learning experience. This will allow your employees to enjoy their training by eliminating any possibility of unease and frustration.
DON’T Use Formal Language:
Using formal language will instantly put distance between your employees and your content. Microlearning is meant to be fun and engaging, because that’s what makes learning enjoyable. Using formal language will negate that effect, as it will make things serious. So, use simple language and a sense of humor in the content, and your employees will enjoy themselves as they learn!
DO Adhere to the “Thumb Zone” Rules:
The illustration of “Thumb Zone” (below this table) shows three colors mapped out on the surface of a phone screen: the thumb comfortably reaches green areas. The yellow marks those that would be a stretch for the thumb, but are still manageable. The red shows areas that are almost painful to reach using the thumb. This is an important point to remember when designing content, because if your employees feel your training modules are difficult to navigate, they will not be motivated to pursue the courses. Ensuring they have a comfortable learning experience will help ensure they have an enjoyable one.
DON’T Stick to Just One Form of Content:
As you have read above, there are various types of content forms that you can explore when it comes to microlearning. Podcasts, videos, attractive PDFs, infographics, and many more mediums allow you to provide exciting training content. This is important not only to reach all types of learners (some may prefer audio, some may like to read, etc), but also to create variety. Sticking to one form of content will soon become monotonous, and your employees will feel their motivation slipping away long before they realize it.
DO Use Questions to Engage the Learner’s Minds:
Traditional methods of learning involve teaching the concepts before testing the learner on the subject. While this has been the format of choice for decades, new studies show learners are more engaged in learning if they are questioned on a subject prior to being taught. It heightens their curiosity, and so they’re more likely to retain the new information. Use interesting questions to engage your employees, it will keep them on the edge of their seats!
DON’T Use Too Much Jargon:
Excessive use of technical jargon can be daunting for a reader, especially during training. Use only the most important industry-specific terms, and explain any new ones that your employees should know. Besides that, keep the language simple, so that your employees can read and understand your material easily.
This illustration of “Thumb Zone” (above) shows three colors mapped out on the surface of a phone screen. The thumb comfortably reaches green areas, yellow marks areas that would be a stretch for the thumb, but are still manageable, and red shows areas that are painful to reach with the thumb.
Microlearning leaves no scope for the dread of unfinished courses to ruin your evening, and your employees deserve to enjoy the same. Companies across the world have joined the micro-learning club to enhance productivity. At RapL, we are committed to assisting teams like yours to develop and disseminate your micro-courses. Our teams are dedicated to creating high-quality engaging content, and our training platforms will allow your employees to challenge themselves and enjoy their learning! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be thrilled to introduce you to the world of microlearning.
We have compiled a visual summary of the blog that you just read. Download it now !