What is microlearning?

Your ultimate guide for unlocking measurable business value

Best microlearning platform.
Award-winning microlearning platform.
Mobile microlearning platform.

You’ve no doubt heard vendors describe themselves in one of these ways. You’ve heard thought leaders referring to microlearning in their talk tracks. Maybe you’ve even been asked by executives to implement it. But you probably haven’t found a simple, consistent definition for microlearning. Is it just a lot of hype, or is it really a transformative concept? And how can it help you get measurable results from workplace learning? We wrote this guide to help you separate the hype(ful) from the helpful.


Seeing is believing. Check out all the ways the right microlearning approach can drive your business success.

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Here’s the truth: when done right, microlearning can help solve some of your biggest business challenges and have a profound impact on employee performance and organizational success. You can apply microlearning to increase sales, reduce safety incidents, improve customer service, decrease turnover and achieve any other business objective that’s driven by people’s knowledge and skill.

This big promise comes with a big caveat: microlearning is not just about serving up short training content.

Yes, it’s important to keep your training bite-sized and quick to consume. But giving your employees a bunch of short videos to watch isn’t going to help them change their on-the-job behaviors in meaningful ways. To achieve the benefits of microlearning, it must be part of a holistic approach to modern learning that begins with mapping out your business goals then applies the latest in technology, brain science and solution design principles. This is the winning formula for getting business results that you can measure.

So, whether you’re an experienced learning practitioner looking to up your game, an HR professional who wants to keep turnover low and engagement high or a senior business leader trying to solve a critical operations problem, consider this your ultimate guide to microlearning that actually works.

Let’s dive right in…

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Read this guide to understand:

    • The fundamental principles behind a microlearning approach that actually works.
    • How to use microlearning to build employee knowledge and change behaviors in a way that gets results.
    • Best practices you can apply to build powerful microlearning content.
    • Tips for evaluating self-proclaimed “microlearning” solutions.
    • How to implement a modern training strategy that includes microlearning.
    • How to convince key stakeholders to invest in a right-fit training strategy for your frontline.

 

A note on frontline mentions in this guide

As you read through this guide, you’ll notice frequent mentions of frontline workers. That’s because we focus on using microlearning plus other key principles to give frontline employees the right-fit experience they need to perform their best at work every day. But even if you don’t support a frontline workforce, you’ll find lots of useful information in this guide. You can easily apply the concepts to any workforce.

 


Table of Contents

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7 common microlearning myths

Microlearning definition

How microlearning fits into a modern approach to frontline training

4 trends influencing the need for a shift in how we view microlearning

Advantages of incorporating microlearning into your modern frontline training strategy

Designing your microlearning-based frontline training experience

How to create your microlearning strategy

Best practices for building microlearning content

How to evaluate a microlearning solution

How real-life organizations are using microlearning within a modern training framework

Tips for starting your modern learning transformation

Your continued evolution to a modern learning organization

See microlearning in action

 

7 common microlearning myths

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Before we explore the definition of microlearning, we need to pause and clarify what it is NOT. Like any big trend, microlearning is surrounded by lots of myths and assumptions. Some of these come from misunderstandings and confusion among various professionals about how it really works. Others are born from vendors who want to capitalize on the trend but without any real depth or value. Whatever the reason, misconceptions have rapidly and thoroughly cluttered the real value of microlearning. So, let’s correct that, shall we? 

MYTH #1: MICROLEARNING IS NEW

Not true. In fact, microlearning’s been around a long time. It got its start in cognitive science. And, in recent years, it’s just been labeled differently. (Do the terms “bite-sized” or “chunked” sound familiar?)

MYTH #2: MICROLEARNING IS ABOUT DURATION

While it’s obvious that microlearning content should be short, the duration isn’t as important as the focus. Frankly, a lot of traditional content in learning solutions includes too much fluff. But microlearning is the opposite. It homes in on the most important info employees need to know to change their behavior and reach a specific goal.

MYTH #3: MICROLEARNING IS ONLY VIDEO

The use of video in training has exploded over the past few years thanks to technological improvements. Just 10 years ago, you needed a sizeable budget, heavy equipment and professional help to produce a simple video.

Today, high-quality content can be created with just a smartphone and a laptop. This makes video a great format for microlearning content, but it’s also not the only format for microlearning content. (Also, simply breaking up one long video into a series of short videos isn’t microlearning either. Sorry.)

As with any training content, the medium should match the message and context in which it will be consumed. Think beyond video with things like pop quizzes, quick tips, blogs, podcasts, infographics, job aids, question-based learning and more.

MYTH #4: MICROLEARNING ONLY WORKS FOR SIMPLE TOPICS

It doesn’t matter whether the content is cut and dry or more of a brain-bender, microlearning can work for any topic. You just need to use it in the right way, at the right time. This means your organization needs to know the problem it’s trying to solve and apply the fundamentals well:

  • Boost product knowledge
  • Improve customer experience
  • Increase sales
  • Ensure compliance
  • Reduce safety incidents

Regardless of the topic, training is training. When and how microlearning is introduced may shift. The types of content may change. But microlearning principles are equally applicable to all workplace topics.

MYTH #5: MICROLEARNING IS A REPLACEMENT FOR OTHER TYPES OF TRAINING

Classes aren’t going away. eLearning won’t either. And coaching definitely isn’t going anywhere. Microlearning isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. While it might replace some of your existing approaches, think of it as an important part of your toolkit. It’s meant to fit into your overall training strategy to help you get the best business results.

MYTH #6: MICROLEARNING MUST BE SELF-DIRECTED

There is a tremendous push in workplace learning to enable employees to own their development by engaging in self-directed learning. This can be a good thing, as long as we acknowledge that people don’t always recognize their own weaknesses (Dunning-Kruger Effect).

In addition to personal learning and development needs, organizations continue to evolve priorities as well. So, effective workplace learning is a balance of push and pull. Microlearning enables this balance by increasing employee performance support touch points and sustaining knowledge increases and behavior change long-term.

MYTH #7: MICROLEARNING IS ONLY FOR MILLENNIALS

It doesn’t matter if you’re 22 or 62 (or any age in between) microlearning meets the unique needs of all employees—regardless of demographics. In fact, when done right, it’s proven to help everyone learn and boost long-term memory. Remember when we said microlearning is all about focus? Well, that means it’s great for helping management focus on specific results and adapt to the needs of each individual. How great is that?

Microlearning definition

Before you go all-in on microlearning, it’s important to understand exactly why microlearning is such a powerful and sought-after strategy. Workplace training is littered with vague buzzwords and shiny new tools. It’s easy to make uninformed decisions when you have a mandate to improve your skill development opportunities and solve high-priority business problems. 

But when you combine focused micro-content with the right principles, you drive better performance and outcomes across every industry and use case. That’s why it’s critical that you understand the fundamentals—so you can apply them in the right way from the beginning and quickly get results that will turn heads.

What is microlearning? 

Yes, microlearning delivers content in short, focused bites. But to actually be effective, microlearning should also:

  • Fit naturally into the everyday workflow
  • Be engaging enough that employees want to do it regularly
  • Apply proven brain science (read: how people actually learn)
  • Adapt to each employee so they build the knowledge and skill they need to be successful

When you put all of these things together that’s when the magic happens—you get employees consistently doing the things that impact specific results the business really cares about.

 


See what an effective approach to microlearning looks like in the real world.

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How microlearning fits into a modern approach to frontline training

Microlearning content is focused on the moment of need, helping employees target the most critical information required to do their jobs. This is how people learn and solve problems in everyday life, which means the microlearning experience is more familiar and comfortable for employees.

If you want to implement a solid frontline training strategy that positions every employee for success, your microlearning strategy must include these five principles.

1. A clear business objective.

We definitely don’t want to play favorites but, out of all the fundamentals we mention, this one tops the list. There’s no getting around it. Microlearning must focus on a single problem, not an unmanageable pile of interconnected issues. If you can’t identify a clear, measurable business objective you want to achieve, then just stop right here. (Think specific, like boosting customer satisfaction scores by 50%, or increasing loyalty card sign ups by 25%).

2. Desired employee knowledge and behavior.

After you know what your goals are, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty details of the actions employees will be expected to take in order to achieve them. This starts with understanding the behaviors your employees need to demonstrate on the job, then you can outline the knowledge they will need to get there. Bonus: this helps you separate need-to-know information from nice-to-know.

Maybe ladder accidents are on the rise. If so, employees would need to learn things like:

  1. How to inspect a ladder to ensure it’s safe to use.
  2. The proper steps for climbing a ladder.
  3. Which ladders to use in specific situations.

3. Scientifically proven brain hacks.

Let’s be honest: If employees can’t remember their training or how to apply it on the job, it’s a waste of time and money. That’s where brain hacks come in. Ever heard of the forgetting curve? It shows that people forget 90% of what they learn within 30 days if it isn’t reinforced. That’s why effective training applies proven brain science, including

  1. Spaced repetition – Practicing a new topic repeatedly over a period of time to deepen memory.
  2. Retrieval practice – Using questions to strengthen memory by forcing the brain to recall information.
  3. Confidence-based assessment – Measuring an employee’s expressed confidence in a topic to improve memory and self-awareness.

A diagram showing the forgetting curve

4. Anywhere, anytime access.

No question, employees are swamped these days. They’re asked to know more, do more and deliver more—often without any added support. It’s even worse for frontline workers, like sales associates, field service workers, delivery drivers and contact center agents. Taking them off the floor to sit through hours of training is a scheduling nightmare. And what manager wants to handle the fallout from lost productivity time?

The most effective training fits into employees’ day-to-day workflow without pulling them away from the places they need to perform. By tapping into existing tech they use on the job (like mobile devices and point of sales systems), it’s easy to deliver training to employees in just a few minutes each day. And, with information always at their fingertips on these devices, it’s just as easy for them to do a quick lookup when they have a question. The result? No more guessing when it comes to figuring out the correct actions to take on the job.

 

 

5. Meaningful metrics.

Feeling limited by test scores and completions? Not anymore! Microlearning helps you collect a boat load of meaningful data as employees engage in training activities almost every day. You’ll glean insights into the types of content they consume, the information they know and don’t know and if they are able to apply that knowledge correctly on the job. And with all this information, you can directly connect how training impacts the business objectives you outlined at the start. Not making the right progress? You’ll know sooner, so you can pinpoint trouble areas and proactively adjust training to hit your planned targets.

4 trends driving the shift to microlearning

Business has changed dramatically over the past few years. Unfortunately, workplace learning hasn’t always kept up. Here are four trends that make microlearning the ideal fit for modern organizations.

 

1. Accelerated pace of business

A product recall. A new technology. A worldwide pandemic. Even small changes can have huge repercussions in our hyperconnected world. To stay ahead, organizations must keep a finger on the pulse and be ready to shift in an instant. Employees must also stay on top of changes or risk being left behind. But, with ever-growing demands on employee time, it’s nearly impossible to complete all their to-dos, let alone squeeze in time for training. Plus, managers can’t afford to take frontline employees out of the operation for hours or days. An organization can only evolve as fast as it’s employees can learn. But where can people find the time?

This is why microlearning makes so much sense. It’s agile and quick. It’s proactive, not reactive. So, when it’s time to change, it’s easy to adjust existing content or create new material. Plus, it fits seamlessly into the daily workflow. Employees can get up to speed fast without hurting productivity.

 

2. Renewed focus on brain science

Who doesn’t want to know how to brain hack their way to excellence? While this kind of research used to be reserved for PhDs, books like Make it Stick, Brain Rules and How We Learn have made it easier to wrap our heads around these complex ideas. “Brain science” is now a well-known concept. And business leaders are on the hunt for ways to embed proven cognitive practices into their corporate strategies to get results. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out why this is a smart thing to do. That’s why rooting your training approach in learning science is the perfect solution.

3. Reliance on technology

Technology is rapidly changing how work is done. Automation is shifting employee development to focus on more human skills, such as collaboration, problem solving and customer service. Mobile devices allow employees to quickly access information whenever and wherever they need it.

BYOD (bring your own device) is quickly becoming a reality for corporate and frontline workers. On-the-job devices, from point of sale systems to handheld scanners to deli scales, are now internet-enabled. Wi-Fi is an expectation in public spaces, and 5G is eliminating bandwidth restrictions. When pieced together, all of this technology has exponentially expanded employee access to learning and support on the job.

Many organizations are just starting to explore these innovations. But our always-on, mobile-everything environment means employees should never be more than a few clicks or swipes from the answer, just like they are at home. Plus, when they’re already using internet-enabled devices to do their jobs, it’s easy to consume a burst of microlearning every day.

Bersin Research Bulletin, Meet the Modern Learner, November 26, 2014
Bersin Research Bulletin, Meet the Modern Learner, November 26, 2014

4. Increased employee expectations

Customers expect employees to know. It doesn’t matter when the product was released or how complicated your operation has become since you introduced e-commerce, curbside pickup and home delivery. Your customers expect your employees to always have the answer. Your teams need (and deserve) right-fit training and support so they can meet these expectations and bring your brand promise to life.

 

Advantages of using microlearning in your frontline training strategy

Most of us have been conditioned to believe there is a place and time for learning. We’ve gone to school and sat in rooms for hours at a time. At work, we’ve been scheduled for classes and all-day workshops. Even digital experiences tend to have schedules and requirements. This simply isn’t how people really learn. We are learning and improving every second of every day while we engage in our daily activities.

To implement a successful modern training strategy, you need to buy into the inherent value of helping your frontline learn in the flow of work using microlearning. Here’s a list of huge advantages waiting for you on the other side of adopting this mindset.

1. Respond to business needs faster

The targeted nature of microlearning will speed up your development and implementation times because you will build just the content necessary to solve the specific business problem at hand.

And the continuous learning experience that microlearning supports will provide you with ongoing access to your employees, reducing the need to schedule people away from the operation for training.

Overall, delivering microlearning content through a continuous experience will help you become more proactive in addressing business challenges before they become business failures.

2. Increased employee engagement

Microlearning requires a focus on value. By getting rid of the fluff and targeting meaningful workplace problems, you can provide a clear WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for your employees. And, by fitting the learning experience into the workflow, you lessen the extra effort required on their part to access training.

All told, this can radically increase engagement and all but eliminate the need to hunt people down to complete required training. See how it’s possible to get 80%+ engagement in a learning platform.

 

3. Make information easier to access, consume and retain

Your modern training strategy should align the way you support frontline employees with the way people actually learn. This makes for a more human learning experience that’s easier to consume and remember for the long term.

And, because you can easily fit microlearning content into the daily workflow, employees have less barriers in their way when attempting to access valuable development opportunities.

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4. Focus on an individual employee’s need

Since the right approach to microlearning cuts out the fluff by defining which specific business goals to focus on, you can easily target your content delivery. Instead of generic, one-size-fits-all training, you can provide just what an employee needs to perform their best. And, as we will explore later, modern training will set the stage for continued innovation and help you create an even more personalized, adaptive learning experience.

 

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5. Prove the impact of learning

When we discuss the steps for building effective micro-content, we’ll show you how to connect your effort to a specific, measurable business goal. This value chain also works in the opposite direction. Because you’re aligned to this goal in your development process, you’re in a better position to show the direct impact of your training on this goal after implementation.

Designing your microlearning-based training experience

Earlier, we stated that to take advantage of the true value of microlearning it needs to be part of a holistic training experience that incorporates some other key elements. But what does this experience actually feel like for a frontline employee in the workplace?

To achieve the benefits we’ve outlined so far, you should take a hard look at the overall learning experience you are creating for your frontline employees. Today, too many organizations provide a “spaghetti experience,” which involves building content and throwing it at as many employees as possible to see what sticks. This doesn’t benefit anyone. You waste time building unnecessary content, and your employees waste time checking unnecessary boxes.

Modern training helps you shift from a place-and-time approach to a continuous learning experience. Because microlearning fits neatly into the workflow, you can introduce new, ongoing learning and support tactics. You likely won’t get rid of all of your existing tactics. But, when you do push out a training event or online module using tactics such as knowledge reinforcement and on-demand resources will make these experiences much more impactful.

Every organization will craft a unique modern training experience based on the needs of their employees. However, this diagram shows how your tactics can be aligned to foster a continuous, right-fit learning experience for an individual employee.

Diagram illustrating the modern training experience

Here are some real-world examples of modern training experiences that have been designed to fit microlearning and support opportunities into the already-busy day for any frontline employee, regardless of role or industry.

In a retail store, associates access training right after they clock in every shift. The training session serves up reinforcement questions tightly focused on topics that are critical to performing well in their jobs. The whole session only takes 3 to 5 minutes, then they’re ready to hit the floor confident that they’ll do the right things in the right moments.

In a grocery store, associates not only take their daily burst of training, but have immediate access to on-demand job aids through their modern training platform. This allows them to look up important information in a few clicks, right in the moment of need.

In a retail banking environment, frontline workers watch a short video on the credit card pre-approval process once, and then answer a few questions about the content every time they log on for the day. The short bursts of reinforcement give them increased confidence when cross-selling to clients.

In a contact center environment, agents take advantage of a few free minutes between calls to access their micro-bursts of training that reinforce the key things they need to remember to stay in compliance with key regulations.

Check out the stories included in this article for more details around the modern, right-fit training experiences organizations are creating that include microlearning.

In addition to ongoing support, a continuous microlearning experience provides you with advanced measurement and analytics opportunities. By constantly assessing what people know and do on the job, you can actually see the impact of your training programs and make adjustments before small issues become big problems. And, because the experience is targeted to the individual employee’s specific needs, the value is clear which provides motivation to engage in learning voluntarily—without being chased by a manager or administrator.

 

How to create your microlearning strategy

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How can you help evolve your organization from relying on place-and-time training that happens once or twice a year to a continuous microlearning experience that’s embedded within every workday?

Truth time: Evolving to a modern training approach is not an overnight transition. It requires a slow and measured evolution of your company’s mindset towards training and the role it plays in the business. Instead of just focusing on getting training over with so you can check the completion box, all your stakeholders—from executives to frontline employees—must recognize (and buy into) the importance of continuous microlearning to keep you more agile than the competition and ready for anything.

Luckily, the fundamentals we’ve discussed so far are designed with this evolution in mind. So, you’ll be able to build your case and show value quickly, then rapidly iterate and evolve your overall learning strategy. Here are some things to keep in mind as you go:

Start building a business case

Since many people in your organization may not be familiar with the concepts behind a modern training approach—like setting business goals first, using microlearning content to keep it digestible and tapping into brain science to help employees remember more—you’ll need to gather some strong evidence to prove that this is a viable strategy. Look for ways to leverage existing expertise. This could come in the form of external partners and vendors who specialize in microlearning and modern training principles.

You could also lean on peers from similar organizations who have already begun their transformation. Take advantage of opportunities to talk with those who are a bit further on in the journey, so you avoid making unnecessary mistakes along the way.

Bring your peers and key stakeholders into the conversation

Making a lasting impact requires a fundamental shift in how people view learning at work. Many business leaders are still only familiar with place-and-time training that happens at a formal event several times during the year. And many learning and development professionals have made their living executing only traditional types of corporate training.

Use this article, and other practical information, to expose people to modern training principles. Contextualize the information by hosting informal conversations and gathering insights about the types of business challenges a modern training approach could solve before you start creating a grand strategy.

Assess your existing content and tactics

Some of your existing training content, tools and technology will stay. A lot will probably either go away or require some reworking. Once you know what works within your organization, you can make informed decisions about how you evolve your tactics to shape your bigger, long-term learning and development strategy.

At the same time, you must have the courage to ask tough questions and let go of content that’s been around a long time and may have been expensive to create. Staying focused on business results and achieving measurable impact will make these decisions much easier.

Get closer to your audience

Effective training is all about helping employees change their behaviors to solve problems and get results. To meet this need, you have to understand your audience’s day-to-day job requirements and challenges. Do your research to identify where moments of need commonly arise on the job and could benefit from microlearning. When are the best moments in the day to insert microlearning experiences? What access points and devices are available for use in formulating your strategy? What content formats can employees consume most easily while on the job? Will you need additional motivation to get frontline employees engaged in a new approach to learning at work?

Avoid the urge to overhaul your entire strategy right away

You don’t need to immediately change all 3000 courses in your learning management system (LMS) to a microlearning approach to be successful. Instead, select one topic—the one that’s the most important challenge facing your organization and can be measured. Outline how you would apply modern training principles to address this problem, even if you’re still using some more traditional tactics at the same time. Showcase how microlearning could make a positive impact. Then, once you put your strategy into practice and see some success, you can use this proof point to influence your stakeholders and expand your strategy. This will also expose employees to a new method of training and on-the-job support so they can begin to shift their own mindsets.

 

 

Determine the process for designing and deploying microlearning resources.

Before you can get hands-on and build microlearning content, you need to have the right people, processes and technologies in place. When you identify a business need, who will you need to engage to execute the necessary design project? Who will do the work? How will subject matter experts and end users be involved? How will new content be deployed and communicated? These are all familiar project management considerations, but they must be especially well defined to execute with the agility and speed required to solve business problems with microlearning.

Best practices for building microlearning content

We’ve established that microlearning content isn’t just short videos. We’ve also identified that it’s not simply smaller versions of the content you have been using for years. So, what is it, and how do you build it to enable continuous, targeted learning?

Too often, organizations focus on creating training content first. This approach doesn’t make any sense in a modern business. It’s easy to miss the mark on what employees really need. And the result is a collection of vast content catalogues that are expensive and almost never used to their full potential.

Before building anything, it’s important to identify the result you want to achieve. This results-first approach is a critical framework for building right-fit microlearning content.

Diagram of Axonify's results-first approach

1. Begin with the end in mind

What business problem are you trying to solve, and how will you MEASURE the results? You may have to push your peers and stakeholders to nail down as specific a goal as possible. Push the conversation towards the factors that led to this discussion in the first place. There are likely specific incidents taking place within the business that have created a need.

Let’s take a safety example. Your stakeholder may come to you with the request to improve the company’s safety culture. That sounds great, but how do you measure culture? Ask for specifics on workplace incidents that have led to the safety culture conversation. Find a measurable goal that you can address with microlearning. This effort will eventually become the foundation of a larger effort required to foster a safety culture, but your focus will remain on solving a specific problem.

To continue the example, let’s assume that back injuries are the biggest safety problem in the business right now. Reducing incidents of back injuries by 80% is now our measurable business result target.

2. Identify the required behaviors

What do employees have to DO to achieve the targeted result? What will the necessary behavior change look like when observed within the operation? You will again likely have to challenge your stakeholders to get specific when it comes to your goal. Break down the steps necessary to be successful in the selected topic.

In our safety example, you might decide that employees must perform the following actions to reduce back injuries when lifting:

  • Keep elbows tucked in
  • Bend from the knees
  • Avoid twisting your back
  • Use proper safety equipment

Icon of a clipboard

3. Distill the foundational knowledge

What do employees have to KNOW to execute the required behaviors? Isolating this part provides you with the opportunity to separate need-to-know from nice-to-know information to keep your training focused on the result. Nice-to-know information can eventually be made available on demand, but your microlearning content will focus on just the critical knowledge required to execute the identified behaviors.

To execute a safe lift, employees must:

  • Know the steps required to execute a safe lift
  • Recognize improper lifting techniques
  • How how to properly use related safety equipment

4. Build content

Now you’re ready to make a content decision. What’s the best way to share the required knowledge to drive behavior change and, ultimately, achieve the targeted result? You should be open to a variety of content format options rather than defaulting to a traditional course.

To improve knowledge and behavior related to safe lifting, employees will receive:

  • A 3-minute video providing an overview of safe lifting techniques
  • Reinforcement questions to drive long-term retention of this knowledge
  • A job aid with step-by-step reminders that can be accessed on demand

Microlearning content ideas

As you can see in our example, microlearning content can take a variety of formats. Rather than be limited to just SCORM courses, you can expand your toolkit and match the delivery method to the needs of your employees. Here’s a list of potential content types that fit the microlearning experience:

MICROLEARNING DELIVERY

  • Video
  • Questions
  • Interactive module
  • Article
  • Job aids

REINFORCEMENT

  • Questions
  • Refresher module/video
  • Email newsletter
  • Practice exercises
  • Flash cards
  • Reflection activities

ON-DEMAND KNOWLEDGE

  • Blog post
  • Demonstration video
  • Article
  • Job aid
  • Operational guideline

PERFORMANCE SUPPORT

  • Designated Subject Matter Expert list
  • Online discussion forum
  • Employee help telephone line/email
  • Enterprise social media platform
  • Help Desk hours
  • Question and answer application

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when making microlearning content decisions:

When and where will this content be consumed?

Some formats, such as video and interactive modules, may be more difficult to experience in a busy operational environment. Text-based solutions can also be consumed more quickly which lends them to on-demand knowledge needs because employees can review just the information they want rather than watching an entire video.

Which device(s) will be used to access this content?

You should maximize your technological capabilities and address any potential limitations. For example, if you’re using a point of sale (POS) device to deliver content, it may not have speakers and so would limit your use of audio within a video.

What resources are available to develop this content?

Who will be doing the work and what can they do in the time available? Questions and articles are usually easier to develop as compared to online modules and videos. Match the skills and capacity of your team with the needs of your employees.

How quickly do you need to deliver this content?

If you’re trying to solve a critical business problem, you’ll need to select a format that you can turn on very quickly. This is where video, question-based learning and job aids can be extremely useful, as they can be executed faster than a more robust module.

Remember, microlearning content is only part of the success equation. To provide the most effective and engaging experience that will also solve real business problems, you must incorporate the 5 fundamentals we discussed earlier to create a right-fit learning and support experience.

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How to evaluate a microlearning solution

Many vendors and consultants are aligning their marketing to the microlearning trend. That’s why you shouldn’t rush into a buying decision. Make sure you take time to pause and ask the right questions to find out if an offering truly aligns to a holistic, right-fit training approach that’s going to get meaningful results for your business.

Here’s a set of questions to ask when evaluating any “microlearning” solution. The more YES answers you get, the more likely the solution will provide value to your organization.

Microlearning methodology

  • Does the vendor position their value based on business results rather than learning and development outcomes?
  • Does the vendor focus on identifying measurable business goals BEFORE building content?
  • Does the vendor focus on behavior change rather than learning or completions?
  • Does the vendor consistently apply evidence-based learning science principles, such as spaced repetition and retrieval practice?
  • Can the vendor provide case studies that demonstrate proven, measurable business results?
  • Will the vendor provide (free) enablement support to help your team develop their skills to execute a microlearning strategy?

Functionality

  • Can employees access the solution on the internet-accessible devices they use on the job?
  • Can employees access the solution from their personal mobile devices?
  • Does the solution support the use of mixed content modalities (video, documents, questions, etc.)?
  • Does the solution include real-time reporting on employee knowledge and behavior change?
  • Does the solution provide actionable reporting to help managers coach on the job?
  • Does the solution integrate with business data sources?
  • Does the solution integrate with your other learning and support systems?

User experience

  • Is the user experience simple and intuitive (no user training required)?
  • Is the user experience familiar (similar to consumer digital apps)?
  • Can users search for information quickly in the moment of need?
  • Is the user experience focused on continuous learning rather than sporadic or one-and-done training?
  • Does the user experience include motivational tactics to drive and sustain user engagement?

 

Thought leadership

  • Is the vendor active in the workplace learning community (besides sales and marketing)?
  • Has the vendor made a meaningful contribution to modern, right-fit training thought leadership?
  • Does the vendor reference respected thought leaders and solid research?
  • Does the vendor avoid using trendy terminology and unproven theories?

How real-life organizations are using microlearning within a modern training framework

Transformational organizations across many industries are reaping the benefits of right-fit training. Whether they’re solving onboarding, sales, product, compliance, or safety challenges, microlearning is a key strategy they use to give their frontline employees the right support at the right time to drive better performance and ultimately benefit the bottom line of the business.

Explore the real success stories of a few of these companies below.

Eyemart Express logo

Eyemart Express ditched their paper-based onboarding methods for a modern, quick, microlearning approach that cut their onboarding time from 35 days to 10 days—saving them thousands of dollars per employee in the process.

See their story

Southeastern Grocers, Longo's and Heinen's logos

See how leading grocers–like Southeastern Grocers, Longo’s and Heinen’s–are using microlearning to ensure customers have consistently amazing experiences across every store.

Watch the video

Merck logo

Discover how Merck reduced recordable incident rates and lost time injury frequency rates by using microlearning to increase knowledge of safety topics.

See their story

Tips for starting your modern learning transformation

  • Are you trying to solve specific, measurable business problems? 
  • Do your frontline employees have limited time for training?
  • Do these employees often forget much of the information presented during training?
  • Are you looking for ways to respond more quickly to business changes?
  • Do you have problems getting frontline employees engaged in training programs?
  • Are you interested in using data to improve your training and business strategies?
  • Does your organization have compliance and regulatory training requirements?
  • Do you believe your employees deserve better support to do their jobs?
  • Do you believe the agility of your frontline is directly tied to your competitive advantage?


If you answer “yes” to five or more of the above questions, then it’s time to look at what microlearning within a modern training framework can do for your business. Here are a few suggestions on where to get started. 

1. Get past the hype

As we explored earlier, there are a number of myths getting in the way of serious conversations around the true value of microlearning. These false assumptions have the unfortunate potential to limit the impact of microlearning. You can play an important role in helping your organization get past this hype and focus on the real meaning and value. Sharing this article with your peers and stakeholders is a great place to start when it comes to overcoming microlearning myths.

2. Leverage your partners

You don’t have to do this alone. Learn from the people who have already introduced effective microlearning with great results. Engage them in conversation. Find out how they overcame challenges to achieve success. Invite partners to share their stories with your teams and stakeholders so they can see just how powerful microlearning can be. Sometimes an outside voice can carry extra weight.

3. Get closer to your frontline employees’ realities

One of the big differentiators for microlearning as a foundational strategy is the opportunity to position learning and support closer to the employee’s day-to-day work. To do this correctly, you need a solid understanding of what this context looks like. Spend time on the frontline. Have conversations with your employees to understand the problems they face every day and how you can help them improve by applying microlearning along with the principles that make it most successful.

4. Find your business priorities

What keeps your CEO up at night? You should know this answer already. Even if you haven’t been assigned to solve this problem, you should understand how it impacts your organization and begin discussing how you could address it with training. An improved understanding of your business will be critical as you begin to introduce microlearning as the foundation of your modern training approach.

5. Start applying the basics

You likely can’t execute a full modern training strategy right away, but you can certainly start to apply some of the basic principles around what makes microlearning most successful in your current work. Fundamentals, like the idea of starting with a business goal and the science of learning, should be part of your current strategy and will set the stage for bigger improvements moving forward.

 

Your continued evolution to a modern learning organization

No exaggeration, your business will succeed or fail based on the decisions your frontline employees make every day. That’s why it’s so important they know and do the right things on the job. By applying the microlearning fundamentals in this guide, you’ll be sure your employees have the knowledge, support and confidence they need to make the right decisions in the right moments—every single time. And when they make the right decisions, your business will thrive.

Axonify Microlearning Platform on Laptop

See microlearning in action

Want to see how combining microlearning content with the right principles actually drives better frontline performance and outcomes?

Check out our on-demand demos:

  • See how laser-focused onboarding gets frontline employees contributing faster
  • Learn how to improve frontline employee consistency by delivering question-based microlearning in the flow of work to reinforce critical behaviors
  • See how easy it is to communicate bursts of timely, consistent updates to your frontline employees no matter where they are
  • Discover intuitive compliance training that moves beyond simply being a one-and-done exercise