Microlearning has exploded in popularity over recent years. Delivering content to learners in very small and very focussed bursts has proven to be effective. Perhaps it’s something to do with our ever-decreasing attention spans – but whatever the reason, this relatively new tactic is something that’s being explored and taken up eLearning professionals across the globe, and millennial learners are enthused.
The Advantages Of Microlearning Online
Breaking knowledge down into minute, bite-sized chunks clearly has some pretty obvious advantages. Too much information at once can – and does – overload the brain, often to the point where we hardly retain anything that we have tried to absorb. Indeed, in these information overload situations, learners tend to simply pick out one or two bits that, for whatever reason, grabs their attention, and the rest falls by the wayside.
This is clearly an uneconomical way to instil new knowledge, as most of it is wasted or lost. And this is, first and foremost, where microlearning comes into real effect. Providing only small amounts of information that focuses very acutely on a specific task or concept enables learners to embed the knowledge firmly within the ‘muscle memory’ of their brains.
For example, in a corporate situation, you may wish employees to learn how to diagnose a problem with a computer or machine. There are potentially numerous causes of the problem, but, by trying to cover them all in one single tutorial, the likelihood increases that many tests or diagnostic procedures will simply fade into obscurity shortly after the tutorial ends, with perhaps only one or two sticking.
However, by breaking down the tutorial down into separate tutorials, which each handle single tests or diagnostic procedures, the chances of more knowledge being retained is increased.
Further Advantages Of Microlearning
The main advantage of microlearning is clear enough – breaking larger concepts down into their core ingredients makes for easier and more reliable learning with better results with regards to retention.
But there are other advantages of the method, too, which should also be considered. So let’s take a look at what they are.
Ideal For M-Learning
Mobile learning – or M-Learning as it has become known – and microlearning is practically a marriage made in heaven.
The short modules of the microlearning model sit perfectly on the smartphone screen. But of course, M-learning is all about the ability to participate in learning whilst on the move. Traditional eLearning largely involves setting aside extended periods of time which will be entirely dedicated to the processes of the particular piece of eLearning content. But, when a learner is mobile – perhaps sitting in traffic or on a train or taking a few quiet moments for a coffee break – the likelihood is that he/she will be habitually checking their phone. And this is the perfect opportunity for him/her to engage in a little microlearning, broadening their knowledge base in what would otherwise idle moments.
Almost Instant Gratification
We all have a need for instant gratification, and microlearning plays to this. The tutorials or tasks that are set can be completed and ticked off quickly, thusly instilling a sense of progress, satisfaction and some triumphalism in the learner. All of this breeds a resultant sense of motivation to continue, to do more, to keep completing tasks, keep succeeding and keep learning.
Of course, having long-term goals is also important for learners. But, microlearning complements the overall learning process – it can often be completed at the learner’s own pace, but typically this will happen quicker, and the learner will be motivated to go on to seek out further microlearning opportunities.
Microlearning Is Easily Tailored To Target Performance Gaps
Targeting performance gaps is perhaps one of the most useful facets that can be attributed to a microlearning program. Highly focussed learning modules can be created to hone just one or two areas where a learner needs to improve, without him/her having to sit through tiresome and superfluous training sessions, 80% or 90% of which the learner is already proficient.
If we go back to our diagnostic example once more – if the learner has tried all she/he can remember from training trying to determine the cause of the problem but still hasn’t come to a conclusion, then a microlearning session can be organised to target that learner’s specific area of lack, which would enable him/her to solve the issue.
Have you had success with microlearning? Perhaps you’d like to highlight some disadvantages of the practice? Please let us know your thoughts.