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Is micro-learning the future of training?

Patricia SantosHead of the e-Learning corporate production team, Cegos Group

Digital training solutions tend to be shorter in length. Micro-learning remains one of the main trends in the e-learning market. Micro learning consists of a series of short online learning bites of around 5 minutes in length, which can be consumed at a convenient time.

Picture: Different colorful shapes wooden blocks on beige background, flat lay. Geometric shapes in different colors, top view. Concept of creative, logical thinking or problem solving. Copy space.

Why follow this trend?

For two main reasons:

  1. To offer personalised, adaptable learning
  2. To let the learner learn at his own pace: just enough, just in time, just for me

People today, it seems, have less time to devote to training. They want quick answers to questions. Most e-learning solutions offer long, sustained training solutions, with sequences that are longer than 30 minutes. They are no longer flexible enough to meet the needs of busy professionals.

The beauty of micro-learning is that it is very adaptable. The experience can change according to performance and learners’ involvement in line with the course material. Teaching is therefore reliant on how well learners adapt to the technology and data; the learning pathway adjusts to the learner’s grasp of the subject to fulfil a specific objective.

With micro-learning, you have access to a more flexible solution, which allows you to “target” the learner’s learning in real time, based on:

  • what new information they really need to know about;
  • what they don’t yet know;
  • what they can access online;
  • what’s a gap or performance model (failure-correction).

Don’t forget the forgetting curve

According to one theory called the ‘forgetting curve’, we lose much of the information stored in our memory over time, unless that information is repeated or consolidated in some way.

The “forgetting curve” is a concept defined by Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1885. 120 years later, the concept is still relevant and e-learning can help us avoid gaps in our memory over time.

Studies show that we retain knowledge for longer when it is taught repeatedly over a defined period. As such, creating shorter bursts (micro-learning) of learning over a long period of time is likely to be more effective for the learner than long hours spent digesting e-learning activities over a shorter period.

How to achieve this?

It is not enough to simply repeat the same learning activity over and over. Instead, we need to exploit the flexibility of digital technologies to offer different activities that create an impact over time.

For example, at the end of a face-to-face training session on sales techniques, the learner could be given a series of case studies involving different types of customer. A week later, they would be shown various videos showcasing best practices. A month later, an online role-play will help the learner refresh their memories on which sales techniques to use in different scenarios.

The key to training long-term memory is therefore not the overall time devoted to the learning process, but the time between different learning sequences. This time is precious for learners to assimilate new knowledge, while repetition supports long-term memory. In the end, longer breaks between learning activities contribute to better long-term memory retention and, ultimately, more effective training.

4 tips for creating strong micro-learning content

  1. Use a suitable e-learning content creation tool
    Find a good piece of software that is user-friendly, this will help you create a basic template compatible with workplace devices and attractive.
  2. Create carefully targeted online training videos
    With micro-learning videos, learners can quickly watch a video that explores a subject or guides them when carrying out a task.
  3. Keep the topic focused and provide additional resources
    Make sure the objective/s for each learning bite are clearly executed. Offer links to additional information in case the user wants to explore the topic further.
  4. Produce visually attractive infographics
    Infographics are brilliant for highlighting statistics, facts and trends that business learners need to know.

As well as being budget-friendly, micro-learning achieves results quickly and is easily shareable via social media. This makes it an attractive option for professionals whose time is precious.

Written by

Patricia Santos

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