Are you developing a macro-appetite for microlearning?  I am!  After all, “less is more” has been a powerful movement in design, architecture, and even lifestyles across decades now.  Tiny houses are the latest craze in the U.S.’s quest to boil life down to its essence and to focus on what really matters.  That mindset is precisely what makes for great training.

Giving people just what they need (when they need it) to be successful on the job keeps training lean and mean(ingful).  In our last blog, we discussed how important it is for each micro-bite of learning to stand independently and to add value. Another factor for successful microlearning is keeping the bites novel, interesting and relevant.  Just because it’s small, does not mean it’s automatically cool.

Cool Chunks

One accelerant fueling the microlearning trend is our changing workforce’s preferences. The millennials are used to navigating through life in micro-bites: see Twitter, snapchat, Yik Yak, etc. Even the Gen Xers can get on board with the minimalist approach. But not just any link will do. Without the captive environment of a classroom and the watchful eye of an instructor, getting traction for microlearning can be a challenge. Selection, packaging, distribution and relevance are even more critical in this space. One might say, “You are only as good as your last micro-bite.”  The pressure is on to keep the quality high.

One key to cool chunks is mixing it up.  Ted Talks are great, but by the third consecutive link, many audiences will opt out! Any number of resources and experiences can be used as microlearning. Consider articles, blogs, videos, self-assessments, partner practice assignments, self-reflective practices, manager coaching assignments, podcasts, video diaries, and more. We know attention spans are short, so the novelty of each microlearning bite crossing a professional’s desk or device can be the difference between “develop” and “delete.”

Speaking of devices, another cool factor of microlearning is how portable it is. Learning bites can easily be delivered, viewed and completed on any device, but are especially well-suited for mobile platforms.  Traditional e-learning, on the other hand, often struggles to make the leap to tablets and smart phones, where real estate is limited and formatting can be a challenge. The tremendous potential for mobile learning can be seen in Ambient Insight’s market research that predicts the worldwide market for mobile learning will grow at an annual rate of over 36 percent through 2020.  This mobile trend in microlearning helps put the training in employees’ hands when and where they need it most.

One more cool factor to mention is the importance of keeping it real.  Reality TV and cell phone video footage have changed the way people view the small screen.  Gone are the expectations of production-quality training videos. Professionals want to see things as they really are, managed by actual employees rather than well-paid actors. For instance, want to drive home a point about how to sell a new product to a customer? Record a live sales meeting. Send out the video with an assignment to analyze what went well and what could be improved and review your analysis with your manager for feedback. Now, that’s some cool microlearning: real, interesting, relevant.

You might be thinking, good grief, what does the learner do with all these individual learning pieces: how do they access them and how do they fit together to form a cohesive picture?  You are not alone in these wonderments.  In fact, they sound like a great topic for our next blog!  See you then.

Did you miss part one? You can find it here.