MODERNIZE CORPORATE LEARNING

The ultimate guide

Microlearning is a hot topic that shows no signs of slowing down. Business leaders and learning professionals alike are trying to figure out how microlearning can help them improve employee performance in ways that traditional training and employee development tactics cannot. In fact, according to the Association for Talent Development’s 2017 report, Microlearning: Delivering Bite-Sized Knowledge, 81% of surveyed organizations are currently using or are planning to begin using microlearning to support their employees.

So, why are so many organizations interested in microlearning and why should you be incorporating it into your business strategy? The answer is simple, when done right, microlearning can help solve some of your biggest business challenges and can have a profound impact on organizational success—whether you’re interested in increasing sales, reducing safety incidents, improving customer service, decreasing turnover, or achieving any other objective that is critical to increasing revenue or decreasing costs.

The caveat is that you need to fully grasp the concept and implement it correctly in order to get these kinds of results.

So, whether you’re an experienced learning practitioner looking to up your game or a business professional trying to solve a critical operational problem, this is your ultimate guide to microlearning.

JD Dillon

You might be wondering, what makes me qualified to write about microlearning in the first place? Well, I’ve been working with microlearning for more than 10 years. Actually, I’ve been doing this stuff for so long, it wasn’t even called “microlearning” back then.

Today, as the Principal Learning Strategist at Axonify, I work with global organizations to solve business problems by applying microlearning principles and modern technology. Please keep one thing in mind as you read this guide. I’m not just espousing theory here. I’ve been in the field. I’ve done the real work. I know that microlearning—when done well—can have a tremendous impact on the employees and businesses we support.

Microlearning myths

Before we explore the question, “What is microlearning?”, we need to pause and clarify what it is NOT. Like any big trend, microlearning is surrounded by myths and assumptions. Some of these come from misunderstandings and confusion among various professionals about how it really works. Others are born from vendor marketing, seeking to capitalize on the trend but without any real depth or value. But whatever the reason, misconceptions have emerged that have rapidly and thoroughly cluttered the real value of microlearning.

Here are the 7 most common microlearning myths I encounter on a regular basis:

MYTH #1 – MICROLEARNING IS NEW

As you read this article, the concepts and tactics I associate with microlearning will likely sound familiar. And they should. That’s because microlearning isn’t really all that new.

The fundamental principles have been well established and rooted in cognitive science. We are just now coming to realize the potential of microlearning, thanks to the confluence of factors driving the conversation.

MYTH #2 –MICROLEARNING IS ABOUT DURATION

If you ask people what microlearning is, a large percentage will reply by stating that it’s smaller than traditional training. And that’s true. However, it’s not the duration that matters. It’s the focus. Traditional courses often include way too much fluff or try to cover an excessive amount of information. This leads to lengthy seat times that don’t fit into the day-to-day employee workflow or align with learning science.

Microlearning is focused on a specific result and applies only the content necessary to achieve that result. This makes it shorter than a traditional course. So, it’s not about duration. It’s about FOCUS.

And, by the way, that thing about human attention span being less than that of a goldfish is also a myth.

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. As with any training content, the medium should match the message and context in which it will be consumed. Why make a video when a job aid will do? Also, let’s be clear, simply breaking up one long video into a series of short videos is not microlearning either.

MYTH #4 –MICROLEARNING ONLY WORKS FOR SIMPLE TOPICS

Microlearning works when the organization knows the problem it is trying to solve and applies the fundamentals well: Boost product knowledge. Ensure compliance. Reduce safety incidents. Improve customer service. Increase sales.

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 REPLACES TRADITIONAL TRAINING

Classes aren’t going away. elearning isn’t going away. Coaching definitely isn’t going away. Microlearning isn’t a replacement for your current training strategies. It’s an enhancement.

By applying microlearning principles, you can determine the best possible ways to use each of the tools in your training toolkit. Some may change. Others may stay the same. Overall, your impact on the business will be substantially greater by incorporating microlearning into your overall training strategy.

MYTH #6 –MICROLEARNING IS ONLY SELF DIRECTED

There is a tremendous push in workplace learning to enable employees to own their development by engaging in self-directed learning. I’m all for it, but I also recognize the limitations. People don’t always recognize their own weaknesses (Dunning-Kruger Effect).

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

MYTH #7 –MICROLEARNING IS ONLY FOR MILLENIALS

Millennials are no different than any other generation when it comes to their wants and needs in the workplace. This is especially true when it comes to learning and behavior change. Every employee is unique and therefore needs (and deserves) the right type of support.

Microlearning improves management’s ability to focus on specific results and therefore adapt to the needs of the individual. In this way, microlearning works for everyone—regardless of demographics

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We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
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Microlearning definition

Before you jump into the microlearning pool, it’s important to understand exactly why microlearning is such a powerful and sought-after strategy. As you may have noticed, workplace training is rather undefined. Vague buzzwords and shiny new software platforms litter the professional landscape.

Professionals, who are in a hurry to evolve their practices, can easily make uninformed decisions that risk limiting their impact on the business. But since microlearning, done right, enables transformation across a variety of industries and use cases, it is critical that you understand the fundamentals of microlearning so that you can apply them in the right way from the beginning. and achieve sustained results.

What is microlearning?

Microlearning is an approach to training that delivers content in short, focused bites. To be effective, microlearning must fit naturally into the daily workflow, engage employees in voluntary participation, be based in brain science (how people actually learn), adapt continually to ingrain the knowledge employees need to be successful, and ultimately drive behaviors that impact specific business results.

6 microlearning fundamentals

To help you understand the rationale behind the above definition, let’s go into more detail about the 6 fundamental components that must be included in an effective microlearning strategy.

1. CLEARLY DEFINED BUSINESS GOAL

For microlearning to work, the first thing you need to do is identify a specific, clear, measurable business result that you want to achieve. Microlearning must focus on solving that single problem, not an unmanageable pile of interconnected issues.

The impact will then be validated by your organization’s ability to reach these results. (Keep this critical step in mind later when we discuss the framework for developing effective microlearning content).

2. DESIRED EMPLOYEE BEHAVIOR

Once you have identified your business goal, you must clarify the actions employees will be expected to take in order to achieve it. This starts with understanding the behaviors your employees must demonstrate.

Once the ideal behaviors are identified, then you can outline the knowledge employees need to execute those behaviors. This will help you separate need-to-know information from nice-to-know information and allow you to focus your training efforts properly.

3. PROVEN LEARNING SCIENCE PRINCIPLES

Learning is science. While we don’t understand everything about how the brain works, we do possess a set of evidence-based principles that can help employees retain knowledge for the long-term:

Spaced repetition: practicing a new topic repeatedly over increased periods of time to deepen memory

Retrieval practice: using questions to strengthen memory by forcing the brain to recall information

Confidence-based assessment: measuring an employee’s expressed confidence in a topic to improve memory and self-awareness

By combining microlearning with proven learning science techniques, this will not only maximize your investment of time and effort in employee training but ensure employees have the confidence needed to make the right decisions at work—in the moment of truth.

4. ANYWHERE, ANYTIME ACCESS

Most employees are overburdened and under-supported. They don’t have time to stop working for hours, let alone spend days or weeks completing additional training. Microlearning fits learning opportunities into the workflow, using the time employees do have available during their regular shift.

It also takes advantage of familiar technology used at work, such as mobile and point of sale devices, to ensure employees don’t have to leave their workspace to learn. This simplifies the training experience for employees, reduces complexity for managers and provides valuable development in just minutes per day.

5. RIGHT-FIT CONTENT FORMATS

Microlearning is focused on the moment of need, helping employees target the most critical information needed 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.

That’s why it is critical that microlearning incorporates the right content format for the message. For example, a short video is likely better for demonstrating how to climb a ladder as compared to a text-only job aid. And why design an entire elearning module when a checklist is all employees need in the moment?

6. MEANINGFUL TRAINING AND PERFORMANCE DATA

The right-fit nature of microlearning increases the number of touchpoints your employees have with learning resources. Therefore, you can collect a significantly greater amount of data about your employees’ performance, including 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.

You can then use this data to determine how your training efforts are impacting your business and make proactive adjustments accordingly.

Ready for more?

We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
understand the concept of microlearning.

Trends influencing microlearning

Ever recall hearing about microlearning 10 years ago? 5 years ago? Even 2 years ago? Concepts like mobile learning, gamification and elearning have been around and evolved over years. But microlearning seems to have come out of nowhere to become the dominant topic of conversation. Why?

There is no one reason that explains the sudden emergence of microlearning. Rather, we’re witnessing a confluence of factors that have pushed microlearning to the forefront of workplace strategy.

4 trends that make microlearning an ideal fit for modern business:

1. THE PACE OF BUSINESS HAS ACCELERATED

Disruption is a constant in almost every industry. According to Credit Suisse, the average age of a company listed on the S&P 500 is now less than 20 years—down from 60 years in 1950. To compete, organizations must evolve faster than their competitors.

This constant state of change has a direct impact on employees, who are now expected to do more than ever in jobs that often didn’t exist just a few years ago. Workers have extremely limited time and resources to dedicate to their own development.

It’s no longer permissible to remove employees from the operation for hours or days for ongoing training. People are expected to become productive as quickly as possible because that’s what the business needs to remain agile and competitive.

2. THERE IS RENEWED FOCUS ON BRAIN SCIENCE

We have seen a renewed interest in the science of learning (aka cognitive psychology) over the past decade. The majority of workplace learning professionals haven’t received much in the way of formal training for their roles.

Therefore, they have never been exposed to the basics of how learning actually works. In recent years, books like Make it Stick, Brain Rules, and How We Learn have made learning science research easier to understand and apply on the job. “

Brain science” is now a common term in workplace learning, and business leaders and vendors alike are exploring ways to embed these practices within their corporate training strategies.

3. TECHNOLOGY HAS BECOME UBIQUITOUS

For years, the only touchpoint the average employee had with technology was the computer in the back room. Mobile devices have radically changed the ways employees access information on the job.

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

BYOD (bring your own device) is slowly but surely becoming a reality for both salaried and hourly workers.Point of sale computers are now internet-enabled and capable of multiple functions. Wifi is an expectation in public spaces. This technological ubiquity has exponentially expanded the potential touchpoints for employee learning and support on the job.

4. EMPLOYEES EXPECT LEARNING AT WORK TO MIRROR LEARNING AT HOME

We almost never want for information at home. Have a problem? Google it away! The phrase, “I don’t know” is no longer an acceptable response. At work, everything changes. Suddenly, we are without the basic information we need to do our jobs. The majority of organizations have not been successful in transitioning digital problem-solving skills into the workplace. Employees have noticed and are demanding a better, simpler, more engaging experience.

Agility is now the business differentiator. Enabling agile employees requires a modern approach to workplace training. One that aligns with the best of what we know about how people learn and solve problems in everyday life. One that takes advantage of our powerful digital resources. One that can target the ever-changing priorities of today’s business world. This is why we need microlearning.

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We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
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Advantages of microlearning

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 microlearning strategy, we must shift people’s mindsets regarding the value of learning in the workplace. Here’s a list of huge advantages microlearning will bring to your business.

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, microlearning will help you become more proactive in your ability to address 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.

3. MAKE INFORMATION EASIER ACCESS, CONSUME AND RETAIN

Microlearning is a strategy for aligning the way we support employees with the way people actually learn. This makes for a more human learning experience that supports ease of consumption and drives long-term retention.

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

4. FOCUS ON AN INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEE'S NEED

The focused nature of microlearning—one specific business goal—allows you to target your content delivery more specifically. Instead of generic, one-size-fits-all training, you can provide what an employee needs to perform to the best of his/her ability. And, as we will explore later, microlearning will set the stage for continued innovation and help you create an even more personalized, adaptive learning experience.

5. PROVE THE IMPACT OF LEARNING

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

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We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
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Designing your microlearning experience

We’ve talked about what microlearning is by definition, but what does it feel like for an employee in the workplace? How does it change the way they interact with training?

To achieve the benefits we’ve outlined as part of a microlearning strategy, you must take a hard look at the overall learning experience you are creating for your employees. Today, too many organizations have what I call 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 employees waste time checking unnecessary boxes.

Microlearning helps you shift from a place-and-time approach to a continuous learning experience. Because it fits neatly into the workflow, microlearning allows you to 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, microlearning tactics, such as knowledge reinforcement and on-demand resources, will make these experiences that much more impactful.

Every organization will craft a unique microlearning 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.

The continuous learning experience

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

img-microlearning-example-retail

RETAIL

In a retail store, associates access a microlearning platform right after they clock in every day for 3 to 5 minutes to answer reinforcement questions on topics that are critical to their role and reinforce information they need to perform their jobs well.

img-microlearning-example-sales

PROFESSIONAL SALES

As part of their professional sales role, salespeople access a microlearning platform—while waiting in the lobby for their next meeting—and complete a quick refresher activity on the specific product they are about to discuss with their client.

img-microlearning-example-grocery

GROCERY

In a grocery store, employees have immediate access to on-demand job aids via their microlearning platform to help them prepare all food items to specification.

img-microlearning-example-warehouse

WAREHOUSE

In a warehouse, workers access a microlearning platform for 5 minutes while waiting for their forklift battery to recharge and complete their required certifications.

Check out the stories included in this article for more details around the modern, continuous learning experiences organizations are creating with microlearning.

In addition to ongoing support, the continuous nature of the microlearning experience provides you with advanced measurement and analytics opportunities. By continuously assessing what people know and do on the job, you can determine the impact of your training programs and make proactive adjustments. And, because the experience is targeted to the individual employee’s specific needs, the value is clear and s/he is motivated to engage in learning voluntarily—without being chased by a manager or administrator.

Ready for more?

We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
understand the concept of microlearning.

How to create a microlearning strategy

So how do you get started with your microlearning strategy? How can you help evolve your organization from relying on place-and-time training that happens once or twice a year to a continuous learning experience that happens during every shift?

I’m not going to lie. Evolving to a microlearning approach is not an overnight transition. Rather, 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 training completion box, all of your stakeholders—from executives to frontline employees—must recognize (and buy into) the importance of continuous learning as integral to remaining agile, proactive and competitive.

Luckily, the microlearning fundamentals we have discussed are designed with this evolution in mind. You will be able to build your case and show value quickly so that you can rapidly iterate and evolve your overall learning strategy.

Here are a number of considerations for creating your microlearning strategy:

START BUILDING A BUSINESS CASE

Since many people in your organization may not be familiar with microlearning, 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 learning 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 don’t make the same mistakes along the way.

BRING YOUR PEERS AND KEY STAKEHOLDERS INTO THE CONVERSATION

To have sustained impact, microlearning requires a fundamental shift in how people view learning at work. Many business people 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 microlearning principles. Contextualize the information by hosting informal conversations and gathering insights about the types of business challenges microlearning 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 of it 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 strategy.

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

GET CLOSER TO YOUR AUDIENCE

Microlearning is all about helping employees change their behavior to solve problems and achieve 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? What additional motivation may be required to get employees engaged in a new approach to learning?

AVOID THE URGE TO OVERHAUL YOUR ENTIRE STRATEGY RIGHT AWAY

Again, this is not going to be an easy fix. If you ask the question, “How can I change all 300 of the courses in my LMS to microlearning?”, you’re approaching this all wrong. Rather, select one topic—the one that is the most important challenge facing your organization and can be measured. Outline how you would apply microlearning principles to address this problem, even if you are 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 achieve 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 mindset.

DETERMINE THE PROCESS FOR DESIGNING AND DEPLOYING MICROLEARNING RESOURCES

Before you can get hands-on, and build microlearning content, you must have the right people, processes and technology in place. When a business need is identified, 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.

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We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
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Best practices to build microlearning content

We’ve established that microlearning content isn’t just video. We’ve also identified that it’s not just 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?

Taking a results-first approach to content development

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 utilized.

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

Taking a results-first approach to building right-fit microlearning content

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 lead 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 in order 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 determine 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

3. DISTILL THE FOUNDATIONAL KNOWLEDGE

What do employees have to know in order to execute the required behaviors? This provides you with the opportunity to separate need-to-know from nice-to-know information to keep your training focused on the end 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

4. BUILD CONTENT

Now you can make a content decision. What is the best way to share the required knowledge in order to enable 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:

  • 3-minute video providing an overview of safe lifting techniques
  • Reinforcement questions to drive long-term retention of this knowledge
  • 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 Aid

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 & 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 and therefore lend themselves to on-demand knowledge needs because you can review just the information you 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 are using a point of sale (POS) device to deliver content, it may not have speakers and therefore 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 are trying to solve a critical business problem, you will need to select a format that you can turn 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, content is only part of the microlearning equation. To provide the most effective microlearning experience that will engage your employees and solve real business problems, you must incorporate the 6 fundamentals we discussed earlier to create a right-fit learning and support experience.

Ready for more?

We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
understand the concept of microlearning.

How to evaluate a microlearning solution

Every vendor and consultant is trying to align their marketing to the microlearning trend. However, before you make a decision to buy anything, you must ask the right questions to determine if their offering really aligns to solid, evidence-based microlearning principles.

Here is 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?

MICROLEARNING FUNCTIONALITY

Can the solution be accessed from the internet-accessible devices used by employees on the job?

Can the solution be accessed from employees’ 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?

MICROLEARNING EXPERIENCE

Is the user experience simple (no user training required)?

Is the user experience familiar (similar to everyday learning activity)?

Are users able to 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?

MICROLEARNING THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Is the vendor active in the workplace learning community (besides sales and marketing)?

Has the vendor made a meaningful contribution to microlearning thought leadership?

Does the vendor reference respected thought leaders and solid research?

Does the vendor avoid using trendy terminology and unsubstantiated theories?

Ready for more?

We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
understand the concept of microlearning.

Microlearning examples

Transformational organizations are applying microlearning in a variety of industries and use cases to solve meaningful problems and achieve impressive business results. Whether it’s an onboarding, sales, product, compliance, or safety challenge, microlearning will helps provide employees with the right support at the right time to drive individual and organizational success.

Here are some real stories of organizations that are using microlearning to engage their employees in training, improve employee performance, and drive measurable business results:

At Home logo

Learn how home décor retailer, At Home, ramped up associate knowledge faster to reduce onboarding time.

Read the full case study

Find out how Ethicon increased professional sales rep product knowledge and confidence to boost sales.

Read the full case study

Merck

Learn how Merck increased worker safety knowledge to reduce safety incidents in the manufacturing environment.

Read the full case study

BT

Find out how BT Consumer improved call center rep knowledge to reduce repeat calls and lower call handling times.

Read the full case study

Ready for more?

We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
understand the concept of microlearning.

Is microlearning a good fit for your organization?

I wrote this his article to provide you with a deep enough understanding of microlearning so you can begin to apply the concept immediately in your organization. Now that you have a good understanding of what microlearning is and what it is not, you should be well-equipped to answer this survey and determine if microlearning is right for your organization

Complete this self-assessment by answering “yes” or “no” to each question. Then, review the summary to determine if microlearning is a good fit for your organization.

If you answer “yes” to 5 or more questions, microlearning is a clear fit for your organization. And you’re clearly not alone. These are very familiar circumstances for modern businesses, which have resulted in the growing interest in microlearning.

TAKE THE MICROLEARNING READINESS ASSESSMENT

Are you trying to solve specific, measurable business problems (e.g. reducing safety incidents, increasing sales, improving customer satisfaction scores, increasing product knowledge, decreasing turnover, reducing onboarding time, or something else?)

Do your employees have limited time for training?

Do 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 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?

Ready for more?

We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
understand the concept of microlearning.

How to start your microlearning transformation

You’ve come this far. It must mean you agree with my assertion that microlearning can transform the way you support your employees and solve business problems. We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, from myths to definitions to content development frameworks. So where should you get started if you want to implement microlearning in your organization?

Here are a few suggestions:

GET PAST THE HYPE

Microlearning is popular to a fault right now. As we explored earlier, there are a number of myths getting in the way of serious conversation. These false assumptions have the unfortunate potential to limit the impact of microlearning. First, you must help your organization get past this hype and focus on the real meaning and value of microlearning. I recommend you share this article with your peers and stakeholders as a first step in overcoming microlearning myths.

COLLECT SUPPORTING INFORMATION

This article includes a set of recommended microlearning resources to help you strengthen your knowledge on the subject. We have also included real-world examples and case studies that demonstrate microlearning principles in action with measurable results. These details will be critical when you try to influence your organization to make the shift to microlearning. The more you know, the better argument you will make on behalf of your employees.

LEVERAGE YOUR PARTNERS

You don’t have to do this alone. Learn from the people who have already introduced 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.

GET CLOSER TO YOUR EMPLOYEES' CONTEXT

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 must have 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 everyday and how you can apply microlearning to help them improve.

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 microlearning. An improved understanding of your business will be critical as you begin to introduce microlearning as the foundation of your learning approach.

START APPLYING THE BASICS

You can do this stuff RIGHT NOW. No, you likely can’t execute a full microlearning strategy right away, but you can certainly start to apply some of the basic principles 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.

Ready for more?

We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
understand the concept of microlearning.

The future of microlearning

A REVOLUTIONARY OPPORTUNITY

Your business will succeed or fail based on the decisions made by your employees every day. These decisions are informed by their knowledge and come to life in their behaviors. This is where microlearning can have a tremendous impact. By applying the principles outlined in this article and fostering a continuous learning experience, you can ensure your employees have the support they need to make the right decisions every time for the good of your customers and your bottom-line.

I hope you now see just how powerful microlearning can be for your business. While a complete microlearning strategy may not be something you can implement tomorrow, I hope this article has provided you with a solid foundation to start a conversation.

Microlearning is not just an evolutionary idea for training. It’s a revolutionary opportunity for companies who want to compete and win in hectic, agile, unforgiving, exciting business world. That’s what you really need to know about microlearning.

YOUR CONTINUED EVOLUTION TO A MODERN LEARNING ORGANIZATION

Microlearning is a foundational component of a modern learning and support strategy. But it’s not the entire strategy. By making the shift to a targeted, right learning experience, you are opening the door to additional innovations that can further strengthen your ability to solve business problems and improve the knowledge and skills of your employees.

This article is the start of our series designed to help you get past the noise and take advantage of meaningful innovations in workplace learning. Next, we will explore the fundamentals of adaptive learning. We will show you how to evolve your continuous microlearning experience to deliver personalized training that grows and adapts to the changing needs of both the employee and the business. From there, we’ll dig into employee motivation and discuss how game mechanics and game play can be used strategically to trigger and sustain engagement. In the last article of our series, we’ll explore the impact of learning and show you how to evolve your measurement strategy through the use of advanced analytics.

Microlearning just the beginning of your transformation to a modern learning organization that can enable employees, solve problems, and drive results in an agile business environment.

Ready for more?

We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
understand the concept of microlearning.

Microlearning resources

While I think you’ve probably gotten your hands on the most comprehensive guide to microlearning on the planet, here are some additional resources to help you initiate your microlearning transformation.

REPORTS

THOUGHT LEADERS

A REVOLUTIONARY OPPORTUNITY

Your business will succeed or fail based on the decisions made by your employees every day. These decisions are informed by their knowledge and come to life in their behaviors. This is where microlearning can have a tremendous impact. By applying the principles outlined in this article and fostering a continuous learning experience, you can ensure your employees have the support they need to make the right decisions every time for the good of your customers and your bottom-line.

I hope you now see just how powerful microlearning can be for your business. While a complete microlearning strategy may not be something you can implement tomorrow, I hope this article has provided you with a solid foundation to start a conversation.

Microlearning is not just an evolutionary idea for training. It’s a revolutionary opportunity for companies who want to compete and win in hectic, agile, unforgiving, exciting business world. That’s what you really need to know about microlearning.

YOUR CONTINUED EVOLUTION TO A MODERN LEARNING ORGANIZATION

Microlearning is a foundational component of a modern learning and support strategy. But it’s not the entire strategy. By making the shift to a targeted, right learning experience, you are opening the door to additional innovations that can further strengthen your ability to solve business problems and improve the knowledge and skills of your employees.

This article is the start of our series designed to help you get past the noise and take advantage of meaningful innovations in workplace learning. Next, we will explore the fundamentals of adaptive learning. We will show you how to evolve your continuous microlearning experience to deliver personalized training that grows and adapts to the changing needs of both the employee and the business. From there, we’ll dig into employee motivation and discuss how game mechanics and game play can be used strategically to trigger and sustain engagement. In the last article of our series, we’ll explore the impact of learning and show you how to evolve your measurement strategy through the use of advanced analytics.

Microlearning just the beginning of your transformation to a modern learning organization that can enable employees, solve problems, and drive results in an agile business environment.

Ready for more?

We’ve also created a comprehensive guide to help you truly
understand the concept of microlearning.