What is microlearning?

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The new HR?

Microlearning is a teaching strategy that breaks down complex topics into short, self-contained units of study.

Microlearning length definitions vary. Typically, microlearning sessions last less than 10 minutes and it can even be as short as one minute.

While it is useful to know what length of microlearning is considered most ideal or effective, many experts argue that microlearning should not be tied to a specific length of time and can also be in E learning form. Instead, it should be as long as necessary, no longer and no shorter. Microlearning should focus on essential content: "need to know" rather than "nice to know." Each microlearning segment should address one or two learning objectives. It is also important to ensure that the learning objective can be covered by microlearning. Content should not be forced into microlearning segments if more time is needed to achieve the goal.

Contents of this article

How did microlearning come about?

Microlearning emerged as a response to the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve. This forgetting curve was developed by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1885 based on experiments with his own memory. He concluded that the brain's ability to retain information deteriorates exponentially. People typically lose 80% of the knowledge they learn within a month.

His findings about how quickly the brain loses new information have since been confirmed by neuroscientists. It means that effective learning is not just about how much information you are exposed to, but how often these memories are recalled is also important. With new employees, you can control certain elements of this during the onboarding and preboarding process.

Microlearning as the answer to the forgetting curve

Microlearning is seen as the answer to the forgetting curve in memory. Dividing content into small chunks and recalling different parts of it over time can improve knowledge retention.

What are some examples of microlearning?

Many people associate microlearning with video, a common and often effective form of . However, video is not the only useful example of microlearning. Other examples include the challenges in RiddleStory's online stories in Gamification and customized onboarding programs in, games, step-by-step instructions, blogs, podcasts and infographics.

Microlearning in the work environment

It is often difficult to still make time for learning during busy day-to-day operations. Despite this, nearly 80 percent of CEOs see the need for new skills as their biggest business challenge. However, studies show that the way people learn at work does not work adequately. Companies, psychologists and behavioral scientists have therefore examined why traditional learning programs in modules and classroom sessions do not work.

One reason training programs fail is that they are not designed for adults. Unlike children, who are dependent and learn to get higher, adults learn when they need specific knowledge to do their jobs more effectively. They are independent and need to be motivated to learn.

An important aspect of adult learning is the need to make learning attractive so that adults can motivate themselves. Traditional workplace learning is modeled after children's learning, but some of the more effective programs also have a clear link to better job performance. If self-selected programs are not offered, the alternative is a program that runs in the background because employees see it as an extra task on their list.

The benefits of microlearning, or microlearning

  • It takes less time to absorb the content
    The main reason employees say they don't participate in workplace learning is lack of time. Microlearning is quick; it takes ten minutes at most.

  • Increases engagement
    Even people with great attention spans can have trouble staying engaged in long learning sessions. However, when people know that their training will last only a few moments, it is much easier for them to stay engaged. Microlearning capitalizes on this and keeps employees engaged.

  • Improves knowledge retention
    As we mentioned, we are more likely to retain knowledge if we recall it again and again. Microlearning facilitates self-directed lifelong learning because short learning activities can be easily integrated into daily activities.

    Small learning steps, with small chunks of information, can be used to learn in between and on demand. In this way, microlearning enables individuals to stay up-to-date in today's knowledge society. Small injections of information to review what has been learned help reinforce knowledge and memory.

  • Enables learning on the go (mobile learning)
    Because microlearning is based on small, bite-sized training sessions, it is easily accessible to any device - not just computers.

    Larger courses can be difficult for employees to follow. They may have to pause in the middle of a course. That means they lose their place, or forget previous information and have to start over before resuming the rest of the course.

    Microlearning works in synergy with mobile learning, so you can learn on the go. Short, bite-sized lessons make it easy to fit into a busy schedule. Learn (almost) anywhere, anytime.

  • Supports self-study
    People all learn differently, and microlearning allows employees to find a way of learning that works for them. Instead of having to conform to a rigid, structured learning course, they can find a flexible solution in microlearning. Employees can learn at their own pace, whether it's a subject in which they excel or one for which they need more time to master.

  • Enables personalized learning
    Traditional training and courses can be difficult for employees to get through because they often contain information that is not specific or relevant to their role. With microlearning, you can build the learning pathway with short, informative pieces of learning that don't include extraneous information. It also makes it easier to rotate and recommend different pieces for different roles - enabling flexible and personalized learning pathways.

Each microlearning course focuses on one specific component. This also ensures that employees don't waste time going through a large course to find the one or two parts they really need to learn. Interested what is E-learning really is compared to microlearning read our knowledge base.

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