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Numbers Don’t Lie: Why Microlearning is Better for Your Learners (and You too)


Microlearning refers to an educational approach that offers bite-sized, small learning units with just the necessary amount of information to help learners achieve a goal.  In the eLearning and instructional design realm, its the latest buzzword. 

eLearning designers and developers discuss it when they meet around the water cooler. HR and training managers have found ways to implement it in their learning strategies. The top brass of companies is no longer questioning its efficacy.

Day-long PowerPoint training sessions are passé; microlearning is an effective way to train adult corporate learners. And the sooner your company adopts it, the happier your learners will be. Learner satisfaction, of course, translates into more business for you.

But being the prudent person that you are, you will want to see “the numbers” before you decide to board the bus. So here are the numbers:




1) Microlearning improves focus and supports long-term retention by up to 80%

Our forgetting curve relies on different elements; however, studies reveal that employees can forget as much as 50 percent to 80 percent when learning is not reinforced after the training event.

According to RPS research, Microlearning improves focus and supports long-term retention by up to 80%. This means we should uses micro-learning not as a stand-alone learning vehicle, but rather as a supplemental strategy to support the main training event. 

Take a look at this image by RPS which illustrates this point:

figure 1

 Here’s why microlearning is more efficient than traditional longer-duration courses:

  • When bite-sized learning content is easily and readily accessible, learners can take it at their own pace, wherever they are, and most importantly, when they are “ready.”
  • Because bite-sized courses are more focused, learners don’t have to clutter their memories with irrelevant information. This makes retention easier.
  • Learners have to digest only small chunks of information. This makes comprehension easier without spending too much effort.
  • Because microlearning content addresses only 1-2 learning objectives, courses, on average, yield 4-5 learned takeaways.

Also read: Is Bite-Size Learning the Way to Engage the Modern Distracted Learner?

2) 8 out of 10 L & D professionals favor microlearning because their learners prefer it

According to the findings of a survey on Learning and Development professionals, a whopping 94% said that they prefer microlearning to traditional time-consuming eLearning courses because their learners prefer it (Boyette, 2012). The C-suite too has realized the efficacy of microlearning in addressing the needs of modern learners.

Millennial learners demand that training is

  • Customized to their needs
  • On-demand
  • Informal

Microlearning fits the bill perfectly. It has proved to be a successful alternative to long-form eLearning courses as it allows students to digest things quickly, multi-task between assignments and meetings, and finally, retain the subject at hand better as it is a more digestible format altogether.

Start learning how to convert long-form eLearning courses to microlearning. 

3) Microlearning creates 50% more engagement

Learner disengagement and boredom kill the chances of success in an eLearning program. Microlearning is the solution, as the learners themselves have pointed it out.

According to a report by Software Advice, The LMS Features that Drive Employee Engagement IndustryView, more the 50% of the 385 employees who took part in a survey indicated that they would use their company’s learning tools more if the courses are shorter. According to them, longer courses are not only more challenging to digest and retain but taking them also gets in the way of their daily work.

Some helpful tips:

  • Create your bite-sized courses to resemble social media content—on-demand, engaging, and media-rich.
  • Engage your audience right from the start and keep at it until the end of the module. Just because the module is short is no guarantee that the learners will stay with you through boring content and lackluster presentation.
  • Cut to the chase. Do away with the history, the background information, and the theories. Deliver the “how-to” right away. Remember, your learners are looking for just-in-time solutions.

More microlearning tips here. 

4) Learning in stretches of 3-7 minutes matches the working memory capacity and attention spans of humans

The human brain is not wired to maintain focus for hours on end. It learns better when the content is delivered in short bursts with the courses well spaced out to help cement the learning. Repetition also aids retention. Microlearning is well-suited to this delivery format.

Microlearning is the need of the hour more so because of the way the average modern learner functions in his daily life.

Here’s what a study carried out by the University of California-Irvine has found:

  • Your employee works on a task for about 11 minutes before he is interrupted by a ring or ding of the phone, a popping email, or his co-worker who has come up to his desk.
  • Within that span of 11 minutes, he engages in multiple short and quick tasks that average about 3 minutes each.
  • If the task involves consuming digital information, he spends just 20 seconds browsing one piece of content before he clicks or flicks through to the next.

The average learner cannot retain focus for long and has become accustomed to consuming short pieces of content in shorter bursts of time. 

5) Reduce development costs by 50% and increase the speed of development by 300% with micro eLearning courses

 

According to learning architect Ray Jimenez, PhD, in his book 3-minute eLearning, by creating micro-courses learning developers can reduce development costs by 50% and increase the speed of development by 300%.  

Here’s why:

  • There’s no need to pay for the instructor’s time, buy or rent physical classrooms and pay for the utilities, and spend money on classroom equipment.
  • It is easier and less time- and resource-intensive to update digital information than reprint training manuals and conduct supplementary classroom training sessions.
  • It is easier and less time-consuming to roll out microlearning courses because they are modular in nature.


It is hard not to be convinced by these numbers. Adopting microlearning creates a win-win situation for both you and the learners. It is not late to go small now.

Recommended read: Theory to Practice: Actionable MicroLearning Tips

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REFERENCES:

Mindy Gym. The Bite-Size Revolution. 2015.

Jimenez, Ray. Ph.D "3-Minute e-Learning" 2006. 

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