By: James Zandstra

2020 has been a year of change and challenge for learning departments all over the world. As organizations shift to working remotely, training professionals are confronted with a significant challenge ― how to drive effective learning and development while people work from home. The past 6 months have taught us that remote learning is not quite as simple as shifting all your ILT sessions to Zoom sessions ― in fact, it’s far from it.

Microlearning is a powerful tool that can address the challenges of a remote workforce by keeping them engaged and prepared.

What exactly is Microlearning?

Microlearning continues to gain popularity because it engages learners in short amounts of time. A microlesson is a brief ― 3-15 minutes long ― repeatable, and focused learning interaction that supports a specific job need.

Good microlearning uses engaging formats like animation, gamification, infographics, graphic novels, and one-pagers. Organizations can use microlessons to teach new concepts, for performance support, to remind, or to reinforce skills and knowledge. Microlearning is an especially effective method for remote workers because it is digestible, action-based, and available at the point of need. Microlearning is also easy to reuse and recycle for onboarding, core training, or reinforcement training cross-functionally.

Microlearning content matches your employee’s attention span

The beauty of microlearning is in the vast array of creative formats such as dynamic animations, interactive infographics, graphic novels or even short games.

Today’s learners are used to consuming short pieces of content on their smart mobile devices. YouTube videos on changing a tire, Instagram posts on preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, and articles on the top five ways to attract a mate are all examples of this. Microlearning aligns to how our brains are conditioned to take in new material. In fact, most learners become disengaged after just 20 minutes.

Day-long training seminars no longer work well, and some might argue they never did, but small, digestible bits of learning material that can be reviewed before a meeting or at certain points throughout the day are much more powerful and appropriate.

Microlearning helps to mitigate cognitive overload. Studies show that our brains begin forgetting information as soon as we learn it. A report by Axonify found that 94% of employees prefer learning at their own pace. The more we pile on, the more we forget. The best way to combat this is through repetition and short bursts of information. Watching a 45-minute lecture is impractical and ineffective. Repurposing a 45-minute lecture into a series of short, dynamic microlessons is practical and impactful.

Microlearning lends itself well to gamification 

Because both are innately interactive, pairing game elements with microlearning is a great way to improve the efficacy of a learning program. Sprinkling short microlearning elements with challenges, scores, badges and leaderboards adds variety and taps into powerful motivators such as the desire to win (against another learner or the game itself), the desire for recognition, and the desire for reward.

Gamified microlearning also helps to create a more cohesive group of employees. One of the most common complaints of newly-remote workers is the sense of disconnect and isolation they feel from their coworkers as a result of no face-to-face interaction. Games can foster collaboration and friendly competition to help remedy this problem with a stronger sense of community and a more engaged workforce.

Microlearning can maximize ROI

Microlearning is a great way to maximize your learning and development budget. Developing a series of microlessons costs less than other L&D strategies because they are quicker to create and launch which ramps up learning and development time.

With the agile design of microlearning and the ability to reuse and recycle content, your organization gets more for less ― less time, less money, more learning.

Final Thought ― there is no one-size-fits-all solution

While every organization has its own culture and its own specific needs, microlearning is a powerful tool to consider. Bite-sized learning, multiple formats, and cross-platform deployment make microlearning far more engaging and accessible than other forms of learning.

Infusing engaging interactions such as dynamic animation, short games, and interactive infographics into microlearning prove to be a powerful tool against stagnant learning programs and disengaged learners ― especially in the age of working remotely.

James Zandstra, J.D.

James Zandstra, J.D. is an Associate Vice President at PDG. James has a Juris Doctorate degree and teaches global economics, business law, and managerial economics at the undergraduate and MBA levels. A creative problem solver, James works with organizations around the world, helping them develop learning solutions that drive measurable results.

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