The Emergence of Microlearning and Why It Works

Lori Mankin
2 mins
student works on microlearning lesson with notebook and tablet

When you’re in the middle of a project – or just another chaotic day trying to get everything done – finding five minutes to spare can be asking too much. And when tracking down an answer or a how-to on that new program you’ve never used starts to consume huge chunks of valuable time, your game plan for the day gets derailed fast. But not with microlearning.

Microlearning is bite-sized, easily digestible lessons, often delivered in just a few minutes to fit into even the busiest schedules. It involves transferring knowledge at the moment of learning need.

The language-learning app Duolingo is one example of microlearning. Users complete short lessons that require them to speak, listen, and translate a language, and then take quick quizzes to earn points.

Of course, the potential applications for microlearning go beyond acquiring a new language. It’s a methodology uniquely suited to today’s fast-paced corporate dynamic – and to employees accustomed to instant gratification when it comes to knowledge.

Fast becoming an essential digital technology for businesses, microlearning is an ideal way to present information, compatible with all learning types.

Microlearning: Micro In Method, Macro In Results

While we all might wish we could learn guitar in an afternoon or pick up Finnish on a whim, for most of us, learning takes time.

For instance, imagine teaching yourself to play the piano. First, you need to learn to identify the notes and read scales. Then, you have to match up the notes on the page to the white and black keys in front of you. And those are just the basics. Now imagine you have an instructor who wants to cover all that and more in a single day.

Does the very idea make you feel anxious? Overwhelmed?

If so, you’re not alone. It’s been scientifically proven that trying to fit too much information into one training is significantly less effective than multiple shorter, spread-out sessions.

Now, imagine piano lessons that just last a few minutes, each explaining one specific aspect of playing. Your anxiety vanishes. Your focus improves. One step – or keystroke – at a time? Music to your ears.

Making Your Content Accessible With Knowledge Sharing

One important element of microlearning is being able to make content more accessible. How can you do this, you ask? With knowledge sharing. Perhaps the greatest benefit to a knowledge-sharing platform is its ability to organize all those sessions for you and store them in one digitalized place. No matter what office location or department you call your own, on-demand cross-channel material is there at your fingertips, with every word indexed and searchable.

From training videos to podcasts and even virtual reality, a few seconds to search and few minutes to learn makes professional development smarter, not harder. Which leads to a happier, more engaged team. And isn’t intelligent and involved staff the ultimate goal?

Broaden Minds, Not Silos

Information squirreled away does a company little good. Whether onboarding new employees, transitioning them into new departments, or simply keeping them up to date, it’s often crucial to have information available to more than one audience.

Microlearning should be no exception. When a simple search result delivers all the instruction they could need, familiarizing themselves with one topic at a time as their schedule allows becomes both a manageable task and rewarding investment.

Molehills are so much easier to climb than mountains.

November 3, 2017

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