7 big advantages of microlearning

Microlearning is the most effective way to teach and reinforce skills in the workplace. It’s a learning technique that emphasizes short, bite-sized lessons rather than long-winded training sessions. Each module focuses on a single learning objective and can be completed in the limited time people have available on the job.

It may sound simple, but it’s a powerful learning strategy. That’s why a lot of learning management systems now rely on microlearning as a primary means of instruction. Axonify, for instance, uses 3-to-5-minute lessons to train frontline employees more effectively.

But what is it about microlearning that makes it so uniquely impactful?

1. Microlearning improves knowledge retention

You’ve probably heard of The Forgetting Curve, the concept popularized by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in the late 1800s. If not, it’s pretty simple. People forget. The more time passes after we learn something, the harder it is to remember it unless we recall it over and over again. It’s basic learning science.

Research shows that microlearning with knowledge reinforcement can vastly improve retention. Microlearning reduces mental fatigue and eliminates the pressure of having to memorize and understand large amounts of information all at once. Plus, the use of tactics like spaced repetition and retrieval practice help transition important information from short to long-term memory. This is why flash cards are such effective study aids. Recalling information is always more effective than cramming.

2. Microlearning increases learner engagement

As a granular alternative to traditional eLearning courses, microlearning engages learners with targeted, filler-free information that’s more directly tied to specific outcomes and learning objectives. As a result, learners feel more confident about the lessons and are more motivated to participate. It’s also easier for people to focus for shorter periods of time in the midst of a hectic workday.

Engagement is especially high when microlearning is paired with gamification. When you shorten learning sessions, you need people to come back more often. Game mechanics such as points, rewards and leaderboards are often effective at increasing participation, especially within a competitive workplace culture.

Axonify uses both microlearning and gamification conventions, and our frequency of participation is as high as 83%, 2 to 3 times per week, which is significantly above the industry average.

3. Microlearning supports ongoing reinforcement

Microlearning is easy to consume in the flow of work. Whether it’s a video, series of questions or job aid, employees can access just what they need, when they need it, to solve problems and grow their knowledge.

This approach is effective because it closes knowledge gaps quickly for everyone no matter how long they’ve been on the job. As opposed to traditional learning methods, the information can be more easily tailored to the individual.

It’s important to note that some microlearning tools are more effective than others when it comes to tailoring the information. For example, some learning platforms just require people to retake a test if they fail to hit the passing score. Axonify applies an adaptive algorithm to identify each individual’s strengths and opportunities and delivers just the content needed to close knowledge gaps.

4. Microlearning eliminates time and productivity barriers

Corporate training commonly occurs on company time, and this can have an adverse impact on productivity. By limiting the learning experience to 5 or 10 minutes a day via microlearning, you can minimize disruption to essential workplace operations. The employee clocks in to work, completes their 5-minute lesson and is then ready to tackle their shift.

The reduced time investment also means that learners are more likely to actively engage with the material. One LinkedIn report found that time is the biggest barrier to workplace learning. A full 63% of Millennials and 58% of Gen Zers would like to learn a new skill but feel they don’t have time. Microlearning can eliminate this barrier.

Because microlearning is so mobile-friendly, it provides companies with more options for increasing training engagement. While some organizations may gate training access to just scheduled shifts, others may offer it during employee commutes or after hours.

5. Microlearning allows everyone to learn at their own pace

Some people absorb information faster than others, which is one reason why traditional training models have such inconsistent results. If everyone learns in their own way and has their own experience with the material, how do you get every learner on the same page?

Microlearning is designed so that every trainee can take their time and work at their own pace without the fear of falling behind or the frustration of information overload. More than any other learning process, it allows for a level playing field.

Microlearning tools can also accommodate a wide range of media, including text, video, images, infographics and games. By incorporating a variety of these media into your learning materials, you can cater to trainees with different learning preferences and further promote a positive outcome for a wide spectrum of adult learners.

6. Microlearning allows for more precise reporting

An LMS with built-in microlearning will generate more data than traditional learning tools.

Standard workplace learning tools will show you course completions and scores, but microlearning tools can identify specific knowledge and skills gaps and track each learner’s progress over time. You can measure whether a specific learning outcome is being achieved, get an accurate reading of your participation trends and identify common knowledge gaps.

Axonify establishes a complete knowledge profile for each participant, so supervisors can see where people are excelling and where they’re struggling at any given time. This presents leaders with valuable insights into where additional coaching is needed and where the learning tool itself might be improved.

7. Microlearning allows for quicker deployment

While microlearning content does take time and effort to build, it provides considerable advantages over traditional courses.

Because microlearning is focused on specific concepts delivered in short segments, it allows you to get content into people’s hands more quickly. You can create a set of microlearning modules and get people started on their learning journey before every part of the program is ready. Then, continue to expand your library as people progress and more assets are finalized.

This focus also makes it easier to manage content over time because you aren’t dealing with long courses that cover numerous topics. You can make important changes on the fly without having to overhaul an entire course. As the needs of the organization change, the training can be modified accordingly with less effort.

Microlearning is changing the game

If your existing learning management system doesn’t make use of microlearning, it’s time for an upgrade. The benefits of microlearning are plentiful: better employee engagement, better knowledge retention, more useful analytics and a better overall experience for both the learner and the administrator.

Just remember that not all microlearning tools are created equal. If you want to get the maximum benefit and develop a strong corporate learning culture, you want a tool that leverages gamification, artificial intelligence, mobile learning capabilities and social tools. Your employees may only use it for 5 minutes a day, but you’ll quickly find that those five minutes have more value than an hour of long-form corporate training.

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