Microlearning, as the name suggests, is getting your eLearning in small doses and bursts, in a short span of time. A practical solution to the short attention span of the overwhelmed and easily distracted millennial audience, as well as the proliferation of trends like the gamification of learning and “mobile”, “just-in-time”, and “on-the-spot” learning, microlearning is a trend that is rapidly gaining popularity and evolving as a better learning strategy.
To understand the scope of microlearning, we must first understand the vast range of what the term encompasses. It could be anything from instructional YouTube videos, interactive infographics, podcasts, mini training quizzes, short eLearning scenarios, interactive PDFs, gamification of learning, and even emails and text messages.
There are a number of reasons for the steep rise in the popularity of microlearning, the key ones being that:
- It complies with the neuroscientific concept of a learner’s average attention span not being longer than 15-20 minutes.
- It is short and has a focused learning objective.
- It supports the learner’s performance and enhances the retention of real world applications.
- It allows for multi-device delivery, making it accessible for learners both at work, as well as while they are on-the-go.
- Given their small sizes, microlearning assets are a lot more affordable to produce and maintain.
Based on all of these advantages, here are the top trends in microlearning that will be in focus in the next few years, and will likely witness a boom in popularity.
- Mobile-first learning:
The current research shows that nearly 70% of learners prefer to use their smartphones to access learning. Microlearning will leverage mobile learning, mainly via apps. This trend will particularly thrive in industries that have a sizable mobile workforce, where the learners are on the field or in geographically diverse locations. Mobile-first microlearning can be designed to reduce cognitive overload, and provide the learner with a personalized and relevant learning experience. Additionally, the phone’s functionalities can be integrated and leveraged into the learning experience, where the camera, GPS, and maps can be used to create an augmented reality experience. In short, in order for mobile-first microlearning to be effective, it needs to be short, useful, intuitive, fast, and fun.
- Gamification and microlearning:
How effective the gamification of learning is has been proven beyond all possible doubts. When combined with microlearning, gamification of learning can prove to be extremely engaging and effective in ensuring that learners achieve the intended objectives. Smartphones have dramatically changed the way in which we learn things, and the gamification of learning is a certified way to influence employee performance and create a positive return on investment. Gamification also facilitates instant feedback to the learner to check and improve their performance. Additional features of gamification like setting challenges, levels, scores, calls for action, collaboration, rewards and leaderboards can act as additional incentives for promoting learner engagement and retention.
- Video-based learning:
If given a choice, most learners would prefer watching a video, over reading text. Video-based learning can be leveraged to create relatable narratives that will appeal to learners, while also creating a more sticky learning experience, which takes a fraction of the time taken to achieve the same outcome from more traditional learning methods.
Where it comes to microlearning trends, video-based learning with short videos that are no more than 10-12 minutes long, followed by quizzes will see a steep upward trend. The future of microlearning via videos will also see a rise of story-based, interactive and immersive video learning formats, with branching scenarios and personalization options. An additional reason to leverage video-based microlearning is relatively inexpensive to create, maintain, and update.
- Preferred format for just-in-time learning:
The concept of microlearning primarily evolved from the need to create quick and accessible training for learners, and will continue to be the preferred mode to deliver performance support tools and job aids, and other just-in-time trainings. Some tried and tested formats of microlearning include eBooks and flipbooks, infographics, PDFs, and interactive PDFs. These formats have the additional advantage of requiring significantly less time and cost to produce, deploy, and maintain, and result in a marked improvement in knowledge transfer and retention. Learners can access these resources and nuggets as and when they need the information.
Another emerging area for effectively using of microlearning is for creating product information. As per Axonify’s 2018 report, product knowledge was at the top position where the organization used microlearning initiatives to train learners.
- Collaborative and social learning:
The combination of the powers of social learning and microlearning can make for a very compelling learning experience. The learning nuggets can be accessed by learners as and when then need it, creating a more personalized learning experience. Additionally, the instructional nuggets can be designed to mimic the content that learners typically browse on social media, which are usually in the form of short videos, photographs, and infographics, which have extremely targeted and focused learning objectives. Other elements that are used in social media platforms like forums, chats, comments, likes, and shares can greatly increase learner engagement and collaboration. Learners should be encouraged to comment on or rate microlearning nuggets, and exchange stories and anecdotes with their virtual counterparts.
Author Bio: Sebanti Sengupta
Project Lead – Instructional Design
Sebanti has over 10 years of industry experience in the eLearning and communication domains, with a thorough understanding of strategy, design, and technology. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the University of Pune.