A little will do you good

Every trade, industry or profession has its own set of buzzwords and jargon that will often appear on a regular cycle and be presented as “the next big thing”.  Often, the truth is that many of these trends are really just different tools to accomplish a task and are not revolutionary in their own right.  As with many exciting things from wonder diets to amazing training methods, too much of something can be bad for you, but a little will do you good.

One of the popular e-learning trends that gets mentioned almost every year is the concept of “microlearning”.  The definition of microlearning will vary depending on who you ask, but generally will involve a single activity that has a very short duration – usually no more than five or ten minutes – and covers a single concept or learning point.  Ideally an activity will be totally standalone – able to be completed in isolation from anything else, containing all of the information required to complete it or deliver the learning point effectively.

Crucially, microlearning needs to be engaging and capture the attention of the learner.  Because the activity is much shorter than a “traditional” training module, we can exploit a wide range of training media much more easily.  For example, it is much easier to hold the attention of a viewer for a five minute bite-sized video than for a training video lasting a full hour – although both may have a place in your overall training programme.

Unlike when you devise a longer training session and work out a learning journey through a number of different topics and concepts, developing microlearning requires you to have a laser-like focus on exactly what you want the learner to get from your activity.  Typically, microlearning will not be used to introduce new topics to learners, but to reinforce their understanding and improve retention of existing knowledge.

There’s no predefined format for microlearning – in fact, you can adapt almost all of the custom content formats on the Development Zone to deliver a microlearning experience in some form.  For example, devising a short custom quiz to present quick-fire questions to refresh core topics or test understanding – remember to keep it focused and short though, or you’ll lose the impact of microlearning.  Similarly, custom modules can be used to develop interactive activities – just like the case studies and scenarios you’ll find in the main content catalogue to help you explore specific situations.  You could even record a podcast and link it to the Development Zone as custom reading material to engage with learners in a different way.

Microlearning is not a magic bullet that will solve all of your training needs but can be a useful tool to support your current training programmes.  Just remember, as my grandmother used to say – “all things, but in moderation”.

To see examples of microlearning, why not try one of the case studies or scenarios in the content catalogue on the Development Zone, or one of the topics in our regularly updated DevZone Academy.

About the author

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of RWA Compliance Services Ltd.

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