Using Microlearning to Supplement Traditional, Formal Learning

We recently had a great webinar discussion on microlearning with Darrell Walker, AVP of Education Services at SailPoint and Treion Muller, ELB Learning Chief Strategy Architect. They discussed what microlearning is, why it works, the challenges of incorporating it into your learning strategy, and shared examples of how to do microlearning right. 

Let’s take a look at a few of the highlights from their discussion. You can watch the whole recording at the bottom of this page.

What Is Microlearning?

One of the simplest definitions of microlearning is from the International Data Corporation. They say we define microlearning as the delivery of bite-sized content nuggets.

A more complex definition, from Exonify, is microlearning is an approach to training that delivers content in short, focused bites. To be effective, microlearning must fit naturally into the daily workflow, engage employees in voluntary participation, be based on brain science, adapt continually to ingrain the knowledge employees need to be successful, and ultimately drive behaviors that impact specific business results.

Treion’s definition: "I see microlearning as more than just a collection of small learning nuggets. It is also the time in between that is necessary to achieve proficiency in the designated new skill or behavior so to me, microlearning is taking content, breaking it down, yes, and naturally small sizes, but you can't just throw that at people, you also have to do it in the right format, in the right order, but with time in between, for people to actually apply and practice."

Why Microlearning Works

One reason microlearning works is because it naturally fits how the human brain works. We make associations, we require information to be input and then the time to apply it and make it relevant to ourselves and that's why it works when done correctly. It fits in with how we just naturally operate and how our brains like to process and learn.

Why Microlearning Might NOT Work

As Darrell Walker points out in the conversation, like all learning strategies, microlearning has a time and a place. Imagine trying to cram too many learning objectives into a single nugget or small bite-sized piece of information. It won’t be effective. 

Another mistake is creating content that really doesn't fit into some kind of a critical purpose or a goal, something that isn’t action-oriented, without a way to measure whether or not this thing was successful.

We've seen companies fail when they try to use micro learning as their complete strategy and it's all focused on building knowledge and skills at a deep level. Microlearning by itself isn't necessarily going to be able to do that, so you have to recognize this is one part of an overall learning strategy.

How to Do Microlearning Well?

Remember to isolate into single teaching points. It's always going to boil down to, Did you think about the learner first? What do they need to do? When do they need to do it?

Think about how we all work today, some of you were probably multitasking during this webinar when it was live! Multitasking isn't all bad. The tendency to multitask aligns naturally with microlearning because microlearning drives to reinforce continuous learning. It’s easily consumable and time-efficient. 

Today’s learners want information delivered in just enough amounts, just in time, and just for them. Microlearning is perfect for that.

In the webinar, Darrell shared an example of how SailPoint is implementing microlearning. Darrell and Treoin also took some audience questions at the end and gave advice. Watch it all in the webinar recording now.


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