Why companies should use microlearning

November 13, 2017 Franco Gementi


It took a while, but companies have begun to understand the great value of targeted, timely, highly specific training, better known as microlearning.


Microlearning is structured through many micro-lessons, generally delivered in the form of three to four-minute videos, podcasts, infographics, games, animations or quizzes, and are a way to deliver quick and engaging content. Many forms of microlearning are visual because they allow for direct delivery. People can perfectly understand and analyse an image in the blink of an eye, with 80-90% of the information processed by our brain being of a visual nature, whilst text processing generally requires twice this amount of time – time that microlearning users probably do not have.


According to a recent study, 38% of talent development professionals are currently using microlearning, with another 41% planning to use it by next year. The reason for its success is simple: the results it produces are measurable and it’s easily distributed within companies.


Memory training


Microlearning can solve one of the many problems of traditional training: the ability for the learner to remember the information. In 1895, Herman Ebbinghaus found that within 24 hours of learning something new, our brain instantly forgets 67% of the information. Too much new information can create what psychologists call cognitive overload, which in practice means that the quantity of new information slows down the transfer of information into long-term memory. Fragmenting information into small doses, as is done in microlearning, and addressing one or two key points at a time will help to significantly reduce this problem. Better yet, if you choose to present the new information in diverse forms, this can enhance memory.


The impact of technology


In recent years, the evolution of digital technology has allowed greater accessibility for microlearning. Content for microlearning can be available at any time and on any device, so employees no longer need to move from their usual workplace to participate in their dedicated training sessions. And since this training method only takes a few minutes a day to complete, it's easy to find the time amongst employees’ busy schedules to do.


Greater engagement, better results


Reducing the average length of sessions is not enough to keep employees engaged in microlearning; producing relevant content is important too.


Gamifying traditional training for example, is a good way to make people feel more involved with the content being learned. Philips Healthcare, a medical device brand, has used scenario-based challenges to educate the sales team selling a new platform for sleep therapy. The company replaced traditional training sessions on WebEx with a "sales performance" platform that uses competitive games. The group that the platform was tested on has now shown an engagement rate of 99% - a percentage that hasn’t been achieved prior.


Although microlearning content is short, it is not always as simple to adopt in the workplace. You must remember to keep co-workers actively involved, by doing things like introducing quizzes, using gamification techniques and providing personalised suggestions. That way, you will get far better results than those you would from asking them to read a classic manual or attend a classroom lesson.


About the Author

Franco Gementi

Franco has deep experience in the Human Resources field, in particular on administrative management processes (in-sourcing and outsourcing) and human resources development, with particular attention to the evaluation of the employee's potential and career development and various aspects related to rewarding policies and training and development. Along the entire evolutionary path, from home made solutions to the current cloud in Human Resources.

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