Webinar Highlights: Microlearning Examples. 5 Best Practices to Take Up Now
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As one of the most engaging and successful educational approaches, microlearning has taken the digital learning world by storm. But what exactly is microlearning and what are the best practices around applying it to your digital learning strategy?
To answer these questions, we’ve invited Kate Udalova to our webinar. As leading expert in microlearning, and Co-Founder and CPO of 7Taps, a top microlearning platform, Kate Udalova provided exclusive insights on microlearning best practices.
So if you missed the webinar, or would like a refresher on what was covered, all the highlights are below.
What is microlearning?
Microlearning is the delivery of training content in ‘quick and targeted nuggets’. While the term microlearning is recently all the rage, according to Kate, it is not a new term; and has been in use since at least the 70s. There are actually various terms for microlearning, including military based training, topic based training, or drip fed learning concept.
In the webinar, Kate advised that microlearning should always be intentional. For example, imagine you have a $100 bill and tear it into 10 pieces. The result is that you wouldn’t get anything useful out of it. However, if you have exchanged a $100 bill into $5 bills, or $20 bills, they are still all valuable. Therefore, when you break a longer lesson into pieces, make sure that all the outcomes of your existing lesson are still in place.
Microlearning is delivering content in ‘quick and targeted nuggets’
Be intentional and consider the outcomes of microlearning
What is the optimal length of microlearning experiences?
A frequently-asked question is what the optimal length for microlearning experiences should be. Some experts believe that microlearning content should be no longer than five minutes. However, others believe it can extend up to 10 minutes. According to Kate, the length of any learning asset depends on what the use case is, on who your learner is, and on what they need.
Based on her experience with microlearning, the ideal length of the asset should be just enough for learners to take what they need at the moment, and then get back to their work immediately – which is the whole concept behind it. Therefore, make sure to consider the relevance first. If your content is not tailored to your learners’ needs, your organisation’s needs, and to the context, then even a three minute piece will be too long. Kate believes, ‘less is more – but think of the value first’.
The optimal length should allow learners to take what they need at the moment and get back to their work immediately.
Meeting the learners’ needs and ensuring content is relevant and valuable is more important than length.
Formats for microlearning
When it comes to formats for delivering microlearning experiences, there are various options. Whether you train employees, partners, customers or anyone else, Kate believes that you don’t even necessarily have to use technology (although she admits this may sound strange from a founder of a microlearning platform).
While she believes technology can provide ease, engagement and better results, context still matters. For example, she asked viewers to imagine a bathroom poster with hand washing instructions. Although this is technically an example of microlearning, being asked to download an app to learn how to wash your hands would not be reasonable.
So, although there are so many choices when it comes to learning technologies and content, it’s important to approach the choice smartly by thinking of the context. For example, if you have a team of sales representatives who spend most of their day driving, short videos wouldn’t be a suitable type of content, since you can’t watch videos while you’re driving. However, a series of podcasts could be a great format. Therefore context really matters.
When considering the microlearning format, context should always be the first consideration.
Although technology can be helpful in many cases, it may not be the right primary delivery method for every situation.
Microlearning Use Cases
After covering the basic aspects of microlearning, why context matters, and why you should focus on value rather than on asset length, Kate shared how to apply a microlearning approach to training strategies. Below are five case studies covered in the webinar that further elucidate how microlearning can be applied in various situations.
1. Address smaller needs
Microlearning is a great way to address smaller training needs when you don’t require a full-sized course or webinar, if you lack resources, or if stakeholders ask you to deliver training with little time for preparation.
For example, Kate asked viewers to think back to the first pandemic lockdowns when people needed to update content and training assets quickly in order to operate normally, and be able to deliver essential content. This is a prime example of organisations simply not having enough time and resources to create full fledged and conventional courses – which is where microlearning can come in handy.
Snackable learning assets are one great way to enhance almost any kind of training. For example, you could create quick instructions, scavenger hunt type of content for onboarding, or battle cards and playbooks for the sales team. You could also deliver leadership training, micro training and various other types of training.
One of 7Taps clients benefits from delivering micro courses to their distributors, which include 24 companies worldwide. Their microlearning does not replace the existing system of webinars and other training activities, but supplements knowledge retention. Kate shared that this particular client has run surveys which show that learners find product information delivered in the form of micro courses to be easier to memorise.
It is important to keep in mind that while using microlearning for smaller training needs may seem pretty straightforward, you should concentrate on sticking to one learning objective per learning asset. Don’t try to include everything, or make your people feel overwhelmed with content.
2. Reinforce training
Since people tend to forget what they have learned in training after around 30 days, using microlearning for training reinforcement can be highly beneficial. You can motivate your learners before a training session through setting expectations and providing basic concepts that prepare them for the full fledged course.
Microlearning can also be a great way to reinforce knowledge after the initial training. As reinforcing content is key for knowledge retention, this is an important step to ensuring the training content sticks after the session. One example of a 7Taps client using this in practice is Teva Pharmaceuticals, who uses microlearning to reinforce compliance and leadership training key objectives. They deliver microlearning assets after conventional training in order to enable learners to revisit those assets when they need them.
This helps the employees to feel more confident and competent when they have to perform what they have learned in training from real life. According to Kate, Teva’s experience with microlearning is that it makes their training strategy more meaningful and sustainable. However, one thing to keep in mind when using microlearning for knowledge reinforcement, is that consistency in your communications and content is key.
3. Just-in-time learning
A great way to use microlearning to help people overcome challenges and better perform is through ‘just-in-time learning’. This type of microlearning includes content, such as guides, job aids, instructions, and procedures. The key is to ensure the content is snackable, which means learners can quickly learn concepts and get right back to their work.
This strategy can be used when onboarding new hires, or when you train a seasonal or frontline worker. It also works well for leadership training. For example, one of 7Taps’ clients who uses this approach is a healthcare provider with over 17,000 employees. As huge microlearning enthusiasts, the company uses microlearning for both leaders and team members. For example, they’ve created job aids to support employees in HR software implementation and pocket guides for leadership training. These assets are highly accessible, with QR codes placed on site, so users don’t need to spend time logging into a complicated platform. This enables employees to learn quickly, and then get back to their job duties.
When it comes to employee training, it’s important to remember that their core responsibilities are their job duties. So you don’t want to overwhelm people with excessive interactivity or gamification. This is why it’s important to ask yourself, in which situation the learner would need such content, and then try to provide instant value. You can do this by being extremely specific and making sure that your learners can access content instantly.
4. Educate customers and partners
Microlearning can be a great tool for customer education. However, as some of you may know, customers don’t always want extra training, and may also not have the attention span for long training sessions. This is why microlearning can be helpful when you have to engage with people who are not really interested in additional training.
Some examples of training for customers and partners are troubleshooting tips, customer success stories, and explanations on how they can benefit from your product or services. When using microlearning for customer education, it is key to deliver content in a way that is fun, accessible and easily absorbed. It helps to have all the core training activities in place, so the customer or partner can easily access them.
5. Create rapid prototypes
The final use case that Kate addressed in the webinar was to create rapid prototypes using microlearning. It can be helpful when you need to align expectations with your stakeholders, be flexible, or save time and money on large projects. It is basically just experimenting – which is very important in the everchanging learning and development environment. This is because it is fairly common for organisations to build and launch a program that ends up never being touched.
Kate firmly believes that effective microlearning is not about the speed of consumption, but the speed of content creation. So when you’re considering microlearning formats and technologies, it’s important to consider how much you will have to invest in content creation and editing. Sometimes you just need to start, because at the end of the day, it’s about making people change their behaviour from your training.
As we’ve learned in the webinar with Kate Udalova, microlearning can be a valuable tool to meet your learning objectives. It is important to remember to always consider context, the learners’ needs and the intention of the training.
If you’re interested in gaining more insights into microlearning, click to learn more about obtaining a Professional Diploma in Digital Learning.