Μicrolearning is a way of teaching content. In microlearning, content is divided into small chunks that are requested by and taught to learners on an as-needed basis. Microlearning can theoretically happen in person, but it is much more practical online, where a large library of content can be accessed.
People are talking about microlearning because it caters to the particular expectations of today’s learners:
– Its brevity appeals to our shortening attention spans.
– Its compatibility with technology enhances its power in our digital world.
– Its learner-centric nature makes sense because we have unlimited information at our fingertips–we can decide for ourselves what we want to learn
Characteristics of Microlearning
Regardless of whether it is used informally or as part of a structured learning experience, microlearning has a few consistent features.
- Brevity: Microlearning events are short, though there is no defined duration.
- Granularity: Due to their brevity and purpose, microlearning focuses on a narrow topic, concept or idea.
- Variety: Microlearning content can be in the form of a presentation, activity, game, discussion, video, quiz, book chapter, or any other format from which someone learns.
Like any type of learning intervention, microlearning has strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few of its benefits.
Immediate Results. One benefit of effective microlearning is that it enables a person to quickly close a small knowledge or skill gap. For example, some universities are using a microlearning strategy to help students learn about collaborative and social technologies, such as how to set up a Google+ account.
Diverse formats. For both unstructured and structured learning, microlearning has the potential for using a very blended approach to instruction.
Budget friendly. Production costs for microlearning should be much lower than the costs for a major course production. The vision of microlearning is smaller and laser focused.
Quick achievements. Because people can typically process around four bits of information at a time, it’s easier for a learner to achieve success from a short learning intervention. I’ve found this myself when studying a foreign language.
Ideal for tagging. Small chunks of instructional content can be tagged for easy search, access and reuse.
Fast-paced culture. Microlearning is a solution that busy workers will appreciate because it is not as disruptive as a day of training or even an hour or two of eLearning.
Microlearning in corporate training
For most corporate training departments, offering access to microlearning modules is the next natural step in workforce training. A majority of companies have long enjoyed the convenience and lower cost that elearning brings to staff training and development. While traditional interactive blended learning courses are preferred, many forward thinking companies have developed a nontraditional “flipped classroom” method in which employees are responsible for learning concepts on their own and then practicing or qualifying that knowledge in organized training sessions.
Integrating microlearning into corporate elearning programs is the next evolutionary step in workplace training and development. Modules can be easily created to educate staff in all aspects of brand culture, from hiring and development to on-going training and general communication. The best part is the convenience. Microlearning is fast, mobile and can be accessed from laptops, smart phones, tablets, and desktops as schedules permit.