Much Ado About Microlearning

MightyMouseMicrolearning (1)Much is being made of the concept of microlearning these days, and perhaps rightly so. Microlearning products and collections, assembled and offered by learning and development organizations, fit into available time slots and busy work schedules. If available on mobile devices, they can also be used in performance support applications at the time and place of need.

From the producer’s perspective, they are also relatively quick to produce, and both easier to create and maintain then their larger, more complex e-learning counterparts.

But microlearning is not new at all. Countless how-to videos on YouTube have helped millions of people repair appliances or learn to better perform tasks or even hobbies. More interestingly, most of these products were created by people with no instructional design background, and yet we learn effectively from them.

So how can learning and development organizations use microlearning products to meet the needs of organizations? What can we learn from YouTube to encourage the participation of large numbers of employees? Discuss this and more about microlearning products in learning and development at #chat2lrn Thursday, 09 April at 16:00BST/11:00EDT/8:00PDT.

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Microlearning: Finding Learning Opportunities in the Flow of Work

Today’s post is written by Andrea May, #chat2lrn crew member and Vice President of Instructional Design Services at Dashe & Thomson in Minneapolis, MN. Andrea is an instructional designer, project manager, wife, mother, Girl Scout troop leader and theater artist.

digitalchalk-what-is-micro-learning How many times each day do you log into your computer or an online application?  10 times a day? 20 times? More?  What if you were in the process of learning a new language and each time you logged in, you were presented with a vocabulary question or two to answer before proceeding with your work tasks?  The questions might repeat at each login until you consistently answer correctly. By the end of the day you may have engaged in 20 or more instances of microlearning. By the end of the week, you may have had over 150 opportunities to practice and learn new vocabulary, all without attending a class, viewing an eLearning module, or spending dedicated time on self-study.

Microlearning uses the principle of repetition to deliver content in very small pieces over the course of time which helps the content become ultimately cemented into long term memory.  Sophisticated systems can be used to integrate this microlearning into the flow of work and track progress in a relatively unobtrusive way.  It is almost like being presented with 2 or 3 flash cards for 30 seconds several times a day. Once you get a flash card right a few times in a row, it is replaced by a new one. You can find out more about this approach to microlearning here.

I find this whole idea fascinating. We all know attending a class and receiving a content dump is not effective in terms of retention. It’s repetition and practice that really makes things stick and produce a measurable improvement over the long-term. It’s finding time for that repetition and practice where many of us stumble and we lose the knowledge we gained by attending a “learning event” of some type.  Microlearning can solve that problem by using systems to integrate repetition of content seamlessly into 

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the  flow of work.

I am certainly not advocating for microlearning as a solution to all our our content delivery problems. I think some topics are much more well suited for this approach than others. However, when used under the right circumstances and conditions, I think it could create a tremendous advantage in terms of learner retention.

Join us this week for a #chat2lrn session dedicated to this topic. We would love to hear your ideas and opinions. #chat2lrn will take place on Thursday February 27 at 08.00PDT/11.00EDT/16.00GMT. We hope to see you there!