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  • Writer's pictureMichael Simon

The Rise of Microlearning: How Bite-Sized Training is Transforming Employee Development

Updated: Mar 6


March 1, 2024

 

By Michael Simon, Principal, BlackFin Group

In today's fast paced world, traditional methods of employee training are being challenged by the continuous demand for more flexible, efficient, and engaging learning solutions. At BlackFin, we feel the approach that's gaining the most traction is microlearning. For those who don't already know, microlearning is an innovative method which breaks down complex topics into bite-sized, easily digestible chunks of information, and is well begun transforming the landscape of employee development. Microlearning may already be available at your firm in small increments or even at scale. If not, it's all but certain that you've had exposure to it in your personal life. 

 

Embracing Change in Learning and Development

 

Gone are the days of grueling, marathon training sessions or bulky manuals that employees struggle to absorb, or even use. Microlearning delivers to employees short, focused modules that feature targeted knowledge and skills, in an asynchronous manner, typically in just a few minutes. Whether it's a short video tutorial, a quick reference guide, or a mobile-friendly infographic, microlearning offers a wide variety of formats to cater to different learning styles and preferences, across different delivery platforms. This type of training mirrors how employees generally have been learning in their personal lives for quite some time: going online and watching a short video, downloading a relevant document, looking at images, reading an article, etc.

 

The Benefits of Bite-Sized Learning

 

So, what makes microlearning so effective?


First and foremost, it's the principle of Jakob's Law, which addresses using things or concepts that are already familiar. Thanks to Google, YouTube, Udemy and countless other websites, the modern learning experience has dramatically shifted to revolving around short, topically relevant and need to know types of learning, because this is how people are learning in their personal time. Employees today innately expect to have short, topically relevant resources available to them, not to have to search through their company's version of War and Peace.

 

Secondly, in today's busy work environment, who has the time to attend day-long or even afternoon long traditional training sessions? Microlearning solves this conundrum by allowing employees to fit learning into their busy schedules, whether it's during a coffee break, commuting, or in between meetings (but hopefully not during meetings), as a "just in time" type of training solution. Moreover, this type of training potentially allows employees to solve problems or issues in real time, by pulling up a video from the company LMS, or going to an FAQ document on the firm’s intranet, rather than comb through notes or try recalling a training that happened in the distant past.

 

Importantly, microlearning capitalizes on Miller's Law, commonly known as 7 ± 2. Meaning, employees can process and retain only so much information being trained at a time. By delivering information in small, manageable doses along with reinforcing key concepts along the way, microlearning helps employees retain more information and apply it effectively in their day-to-day roles or specific situations. In other words, the shorter duration of microlearning gives learners a much greater chance of ‘actually’ learning what they’re being trained to and apply it to their jobs.

 

Lastly, microlearning is agile. Whether you're onboarding new hires, upskilling existing employees, or addressing specific performance gaps, microlearning offerings can be tailored to meet your organization's unique needs. It's scalable, cost-effective, and adaptable, making it an ideal solution for firms of all sizes and industries.

 

Driving Engagement

 

One of the most obvious benefits of microlearning is its ability to engage, if not motivate learners. By breaking down complex topics into bite-sized chunks and especially if adding various elements, such as videos, animations, and gamified quizzes, microlearning keeps learners actively engaged and interested in the content. Even in its singular form, microlearning engages employees by its combination of duration, relevance, and ease of use.

 

Furthermore, microlearning is asynchronous, it allows employees to progress at their own pace and revisit topics as needed. This sense of autonomy and control over their learning journey can significantly ease an employee's learning anxiety, thereby driving higher learning engagement, if not overall employee engagement.

 

Harnessing the Power of Microlearning

 

As we navigate an increasingly dynamic and digital work environment, the need for flexible and effective learning solutions has never been greater. Microlearning offers a powerful way to meet this demand, providing employees with convenient, engaging, and personalized learning experiences that drive real results.

 

To harness the full potential of microlearning, organizations must invest in the right tools and technologies, empower learning and development teams and content developers to design high-quality microlearning experiences, and foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

 

To conclude, microlearning represents a transformative shift in employee development, offering an agile, efficient, and engaging alternative to traditional training methods. By embracing microlearning, organizations can get closer to unlocking the full potential of their workforce and stay ahead in today's rapidly evolving business landscape.

 

Michael Simon, Principal Consultant with BlackFin Group who runs BlackFin University leadership development program. Michael is nationally recognized as a senior training and learning executive. During Michael’s decades of learning and development he has been responsible for the development and delivery of strategic training and learning programs with Ellie Mae, Accenture World-Wide, TD Bank, UBS, PennyMac, AmeriHome, and University Bank in Michigan. For more information on how we can help contact info@blackfin-group.com

 


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