Microlearning is an educational approach that involves delivering content in small, focused units that are easy to consume and understand. It is designed to provide learners with concise and targeted information that can be quickly absorbed. Each microlearning module typically addresses a specific learning objective or skill, and these modules are often delivered in formats such as short videos, infographics, quizzes, podcasts, or text-based snippets.
Key characteristics of microlearning include:
Brevity: Microlearning content is intentionally brief, focusing on a single topic or concept. This brevity allows learners to grasp the information quickly without feeling overwhelmed.
Specific Learning Objectives: Each microlearning module has a well-defined learning objective or skill that it aims to convey. This precision ensures that learners receive focused and relevant content.
Engagement: Microlearning content is often designed to be engaging and interactive. This can include elements like quizzes, interactive scenarios, and real-world examples to maintain learner interest.
Flexibility: Microlearning is flexible in terms of when and where learners access it. This adaptability allows individuals to fit learning into their schedules and preferences.
Mobile-Friendly: Microlearning content is often optimized for mobile devices, enabling learners to access it on smartphones and tablets. This is particularly useful for learners on the go or in remote settings.
Repetition and Reinforcement: Microlearning emphasizes repeated exposure to the content, aiding in better retention and application of knowledge.
Application-Oriented: Microlearning often focuses on practical applications of knowledge and skills. Learners are encouraged to apply what they've learned immediately, promoting real-world relevance.
Personalization: Microlearning can be tailored to individual learners' needs and preferences, making the learning experience more relevant and effective.
Microlearning is widely used in various contexts, including corporate training, employee development, educational institutions, and skill-based training programs. Its effectiveness lies in its ability to accommodate modern attention spans, offer on-the-go learning, and provide targeted knowledge acquisition.
Keep in mind that while microlearning is a valuable approach, it might not be suitable for all types of learning content. Some topics might require a more comprehensive and in-depth approach, and a well-balanced training strategy might involve a combination of microlearning and other instructional methods.
The Science Behind Microlearning
The science behind microlearning draws from principles of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and educational theory. Here are some key scientific principles that support the effectiveness of microlearning:
Microlearning leverages the concept of spaced repetition, which involves reviewing and revisiting information at increasing intervals over time. This approach is based on the spacing effect, a psychological phenomenon where information is better retained when it's encountered and reviewed repeatedly with gaps between exposures. Microlearning's short and frequent sessions align well with spaced repetition, leading to better long-term retention.
Cognitive psychology suggests that breaking down complex information into smaller, manageable chunks improves comprehension and memory retention. Microlearning adheres to this principle by presenting content in bite-sized portions, allowing learners to process and understand each piece before moving on to the next.
Attention Span and Cognitive Load
Research indicates that the average attention span is relatively short, especially in today's fast-paced digital environment. Microlearning respects this limitation by delivering content in brief, focused modules that reduce cognitive load and prevent information overload. This approach keeps learners engaged and prevents cognitive fatigue.
Neuroplasticity refers to the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. Microlearning takes advantage of neuroplasticity by encouraging regular exposure to learning content, which strengthens neural pathways associated with the acquired knowledge or skills.
Active Learning and Retrieval Practice
Microlearning often incorporates interactive elements such as quizzes, questions, and challenges. These activities promote active learning and retrieval practice, both of which have been shown to enhance understanding, retention, and application of knowledge.
Learning that occurs in context-rich environments is more likely to be remembered and applied effectively. Microlearning can provide context by focusing on specific scenarios, case studies, or real-world examples, making the learning experience more relevant and applicable.
Distributed learning involves spreading out learning sessions over time rather than cramming information into a single session. Microlearning aligns with this principle by encouraging learners to engage with content regularly over time, promoting better understanding and retention.
Motivation and Feedback
Microlearning modules often include opportunities for learners to receive immediate feedback and reinforcement. This aspect aligns with motivational theories, where timely feedback and rewards enhance the learning experience and encourage continued engagement.
It's important to note that while the science supports the effectiveness of microlearning, its success also depends on factors like content quality, instructional design, and learner engagement. Combining microlearning with other instructional strategies and assessing its impact through feedback and assessment can help organizations optimize their training programs.
Additionally, ongoing research in cognitive science and educational psychology continues to refine our understanding of how different learning approaches, including microlearning, influence learning outcomes.
Is Microlearning a Proven Approach for Corporate Training?
For a number of reasons, microlearning is now considered an effective and proven approach for corporate training programs.
Engagement and Attention: Microlearning modules are short and concise, making it easier for learners to stay engaged and focused throughout the learning process. This approach aligns well with the modern attention span and reduces cognitive overload.
Flexible and On-Demand: Microlearning can be accessed on-demand, allowing learners to fit short learning sessions into their busy schedules. This flexibility makes it easier for employees to acquire new knowledge and skills without disrupting their workflow.
Focused Learning Objectives: Each microlearning module typically addresses a specific learning objective or skill, which helps learners to concentrate on a particular topic without getting overwhelmed by too much information.
Retention and Reinforcement: Since microlearning emphasizes repeated exposure to small units of content, learners can review and reinforce their knowledge more frequently, leading to better retention.
Mobile-Friendly: Microlearning is well-suited for mobile devices, enabling learners to access training materials anytime and anywhere. This is especially beneficial for remote and distributed workforces.
Cost-Effectiveness: Creating and delivering microlearning content can be more cost-effective compared to traditional lengthy training programs. It often requires less time and resources to produce, while still delivering valuable information.
Application of Learning: Microlearning content is often designed to be practical and actionable. Learners can immediately apply the information or skills they've acquired to their work tasks.
Personalization: Microlearning can be personalized to cater to individual learner needs and preferences. This enhances the learning experience and effectiveness.
While microlearning has shown promising results, it's essential to consider the specific needs of your organization and the nature of the content being delivered. Some topics might require a more in-depth approach, and a blend of different training methods could be beneficial.
Additionally, the effectiveness of any training approach depends on how well it's designed, implemented, and aligned with the organization's goals and culture.
About LMS Portals
At LMS Portals, we provide our clients and partners with a SaaS-based, multi-tenant learning management system that allows you to launch a dedicated training environment (a portal) for each of your unique audiences.
The system includes built-in, SCORM-compliant course authoring software that enables most anyone to build engaging courses quickly and easily.
We also offer a complete library of ready-made courses, covering most every aspect of corporate training and employee development.
If you choose to, you can create Learning Paths to deliver courses in a logical progression and add structure to your training program. The system also supports Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) and provides tools for social learning.
Together, these features make the LMS Portals platform the ideal solution to incorporate microlearning into your corporate training program.