If you search for a definition of “microlearning” in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, you won’t find one. The way I describe microlearning is a brief, succinct learning activity that:
- Requires a short amount of time
- Covers very specific topics
- Exists (often) as part of a larger curriculum
These “knowledge nuggets” (as I’ve heard them referred to) are a natural fit for eLearning design that’s focused on meeting the needs of the modern learner, in any environment by providing just-in-time training.
Today’s learners (myself included) are often overwhelmed with too much information. We’re distracted by competing priorities and are impatient to get the information we need. When you incorporate microlearning into your eLearning course design, you’re able to meet the needs of your learners by providing bite-sized pieces of information that are easy to digest.
Thanks to the technology available via smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other forms of mobile delivery, microlearning can take place anywhere and at any time. This makes it easy to deliver training in a retail environment, a classroom, a hospital, corporate office, or anywhere a WiFi connection is available. Learners can access the information they need, whenever they need it—and thanks to the brevity of microlearning, it’s easy for designers to update or replace content to ensure it reflects the most current information.
Just in Time Training
I recently had a microlearning experience when I found that my car battery was dead. In order to learn how to jumpstart the dead battery, I didn’t use the manual that came with the jumper cables. I didn’t reflect on what I’d learned in my Driver’s Ed class a few (ahem) years ago. Instead, I stood next to my car (okay, it’s a minivan) with my smartphone and watched a video a few (okay, three) times. Thanks to that just-in-time training, I was able to successfully start my car battery. (Insert audience applause here.)
It’s the same with your learners– they want access to training that’s just in time, when they need to perform a certain task, or that helps them grasp a new concept. eLearning courses allow you to take the concept behind quick instructional videos and make them more interactive. The goal of delivering just-in-time training remains the same, but thanks to checks for understanding and interactive elements, it’s even more likely that your learners will be able to use and retain the information you’ve provided.
Not all training content fits into microlearning. But, look for places where you can incorporate and utilize this approach. Your organization and your learners will surely reap the benefits when just in time learning content is accessible at any time and from anywhere.
Liz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her viaLinkedIn or Twitter.