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Why should you care about MICROLEARNING?

What is microlearning, you might ask? Also known as chunking or learning bursts microlearning is quite simply the process of delivering bite-sized learning content for learners. Learning is broken into smaller chunks of information that can be consumed aall at once over a short period of time, then can be applied immediately.

There is no multi-day workshop or day long seminar. It is short and to the point and for good reason. It has long been known that it is far easier to educate and engage employees with shorter bursts of content. So, why isn't everyone doing it?

Training organizations and instructor-led training are all going virtual but some are still doing a longer version of what works best. Shortening the content as short as learners need is probably deemed as detrimental to their business model. If they shorten it too much they can't justify charging as much then they are also in competition for your learning time.

The reality is that science supports the shorter learning bursts. Microlearning improves long-term retention. Once you learn something and are able to apply immediately it is more engrained in your long-term memory process. The hands-on application immediately after the learning process is what helps keep it to the frontal cortex. When we learn a lot of information over a day long or half-day long class we tend to send some of what we learned to the back of our brain only to have to have some sort of recall of that information to bring it to the front again. If it goes to the back too long it will take more recall or refresher to get it back to its full extent.

With short-term learning it is just one and done. With long-term learning there are typically major distractions throughout the training like snack breaks, bathroom breaks, etc. When we keep our learning short we avoid distractions and maximize the attention span. Science has shown that people's attention span is getting historically shorter as all the information they take in everyday comes in short bursts through texting, news feeds, blogs, instant messaging, etc.

With an improvement in immediate productivity from applying the learning right away we in-turn see improvements in long-term performance. When we add it all up there is less costly time-away from the office or desk to attend the longer training sessions and the cost of the training itself. Learners would also be able to skip over the sections of training they are already familiar with when it is broken into smaller chunks.

I've always admitted that the discussions within a classroom setting are some of the best learning experiences you can have for a better understanding. This is one thing you can't get in microlearning, however there are all sorts of studies and new ideas being brought into the mix that are making microlearning much more effective. Many e-Learning platforms are using scenario based learning or testing throughout the learning for shorter refreshers to improve retention. They have links set-up in the modules that help with explaining and understanding terms, definitions, and practices.

Live instructor-led training can be done in short segments as well. I have found through shorter, more frequent coaching sessions after my initial coaching with an individual can usually keep us on point and focused towards the action plan or follow-up that is needed. We can always have another short session if other issues or ideas come up in the meantime but the longer coaching sessions aren't always productive without refreshing the brain for out of the box thinking. Well, I better keep this short so I don't lose your interest. Keep calm and carry-on!


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