Best Practices in Micro-Learning
Article By SAP Litmos, re-posted by TRIFT Inc. (Part 5 in the series)
Before the internet was available in every home, you had to go to the library to look up answers to your questions, or (eek - use the Encyclopedia). Learning a new skill often required enrollment in some sort of course or workshop. If you were lucky, you had a knowledgeable friend or family member to teach you.
Traditional learning & development strategies, which are still heavily used today are based on this type of learning environment. Classroom session and reference materials are developed to provide all of the information your will ever need to know, as if you won't ever have an opportunity to go back for a refresher course - Cram it all in and hope for the best (was typically the motto).
Today, learning new skills and gathering needed information is an entirely different experience. Just about any question can be answered with an online search, and it is quite common to seek out short video's and/or tutorials to learn how to do almost everything.
Before beginning your transition to a microlearning strategy, spend some time thinking about how your employees learn new skills and gather information outside of work. Your goal is to create a similar environment in the workplace!
LESS IS MORE: The order of business is to dispense with the massive manuals and lengthy training documents you have been relying on to keep everyone in the know. It is time to rethink your entire strategy. Pull out the most important concepts - those bits of information that everyone MUST HAVE - to create your learning goals. All of the other material should be redesigned as reference materials. It can be sorted, indexed and stored in an online library or as reference documents for easy access. Make sure you incorporate a powerful search function, then create a microlearning course to teach employees how to find what they need in the system.
Remember, the time you invest to walk each employee through the pages of that manual is time wasted. It is unlikely they are retaining much of the information, and they are likely to need a refresher if and when specific situations come up.
"Save your training time for critical learning goals and objectives. Those that can be immediately applied to improve the effectiveness of each employee's day-to-day activities."
LESS IS MORE (REPRISE): It can't be said enough - less is more! Especially when it comes to microlearning. Focus on critical learning objectives and set the rest aside as reference material. Keeping your learning modules short and sweet is the most effective path to successful learning.
Technically, courses from 30 seconds to 20 minutes long can qualify as microlearning, BUT that does not mean you should push the limit. You can optimize your learning program by intentionally designing courses that range from three to eight minutes in duration.
SEQUENTIAL AND STANDALONE: It makes sense that employees need to master certain goals before moving on to others. But that doesn't change the most fundamental tenet - each course must be able to stand alone! Instead of trying to combine concepts into one module or create overlapping courses, arrange your curriculum sequentially (known as a learning path). This preserves the benefits of stand alone courses for those employees who don't need the basics, while still ensuring that less experienced employees gain the underlying skills they need to master, with more complicated learning goals at a later time.
INCORPORATE OFFLINE CAPABILITIES: You never know when or where your employees will pull out their mobile device to do some training, and you don't want to limit their options. However, data plans aren't cheap. Make sure you create microlearning courses that can be downloadable or used offline in case employees don't have a wireless connection. Whether you pay for the data plan or your employees use their personal devices, everyone wins when training has offline capabilities.
A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING: As you build your learning strategy, spend some time thinking about how people use the internet to learn in today's digital environment. You probably have a long list of popular elements in today's learning programs. Some of these may include:
ANECDOTES, STORYTELLING & CASE STUDIES
GAMES / GAMIFICATION
QUIZZES / ASSESSMENTS
COMPETITIONS & REWARD PROGRAMS
Use them all. You won't incorporate every element of online learning into every microlearning module. Make sure that across your modules, that there is variety. This ensures that your courses appeal to all kinds of learners, and it has a significant impact on long-term engagement. Employees like to be pleasantly surprised and they will respond well when the format of your modules changes from one course to the next.
TRIFT makes micro-learning easy to access and available anytime, anywhere, and on any device. As a provider of microlearning content, TRIFT embraces these very same concepts discussed in this article. Want to take some free microlearning and experience for yourself the benefits? Learn more about TRIFT HERE. Learn more about SAP Litmos click HERE