How to develop a Microlearning approach to your L&D

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Traditional L&D programmes are failing to meet the demands of today’s connected society thanks to two problems – technological advancement, and our own appetite for skills development mediums.

First, the rapid rate of technological evolution means certain digital skills become obsolete very quickly. With 43 -185 hours needed to create just one hour of traditional training (1), the skills a course is designed to teach have often been surpassed by changes in technology by the time it has been completed.

Second, the internet is changing our expectations of how information should be accessed and, with the average attention span of a web surfer now approximately 8 seconds (2), traditional L&D programmes are becoming seriously ineffective for skills development.

So with attention spans decreasing and technology changing our expectations of how information should be accessed; we need a different approach to L&D.

This approach is Microlearning.

And at its core, Microlearning begins when you commit to driving engagement by empowering employees. With this in mind, here are five principles to help you develop a successful Microlearning approach to your L&D:

1. Focus on ONLY one learning objective at a time
The mass of accessible content in the digital age means we are growing accustomed to getting precise answers for specific questions. Provide unnecessary information and your learners are likely to switch off fast. By focusing on one learning objective at a time you empower employees to pick and choose what’s right for them, at the time they need it most.

2. Keep it Short
Rather than hampering employees with long learning sessions for which the average 30 day retention rate is just 20% (3), focus on getting the point across quickly and clearly. This makes the learning more accessible and more likely to be repeated and retained.

3. Embrace Mobile
Make Microlearning available on the go and unlock a huge host of company-wide benefits. For example, a salesperson on the road can stop and take five to get better prepared for industry or product specific questions at an upcoming meeting.

4. Create content quickly
L&D content needs to keep pace with change so focus on getting Microlearning modules out fast. Technology is making this process simpler and cheaper every day. For a company that already invests heavily in L&D cost is unlikely to be a barrier to Microlearning.

5. Use the power of storytelling to put Microlearning in context
Learning delivered as part of a mini case study or story series is more likely to encourage engagement as well as boost retention. You can use story-telling to empower employees by showing how the daily work makes sense and that your company stands for more than just shareholder value and profit.

Businesses globally are waking up to the power of Microlearning. Use Microlearning in your L&D to engage and empower employees, and engender a culture of high productivity.

(1) The Association for Talent Development, Learning Circuits Archives “Time-to-Develop-One-Hour-of-Training” 2009
(2) National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, The Associated Press 2014
(3) Via Learning Solutions, “Trends of Blended Learning: evolution of learning design and technology”