As microlearning-based training moves to center stage, I outline what is driving its rapid adoption. In this article, I also share microlearning trends in 2019, and how you can leverage them to boost employee performance.
Discovering All About Microlearning Trends In 2019
Microlearning consists of short, bite-sized learning nuggets. Although short in run length (between 2-5 mins and, typically, not exceeding 7 mins), each nugget is action-oriented and is designed to meet a specific learning outcome.
In the last couple of years, microlearning has moved from being a player on the side to center stage and for good reasons.
In a world that is full of distractions and diminishing attention spans, it is critical to have sharp, focused learning nuggets. Only then do you get the learners’ attention, and they invest in completing it. This is precisely what microlearning-based training delivers.
Learners love microlearning-based training as:
It is short and focused.
It can be taken on the go.
It is available in the learners’ workflow and can be accessed at the moment of their need.
It is designed for multi-device support and provides control to learners on when and how they want to consume it.
It uses high-impact formats (notably, videos) that are engaging and immersive.
L&D teams see value in microlearning on account of:
Its ability to engage the learners across profiles, that is today’s multi-generational workforce.
Its ability to provide a sticky learning experience.
Its high completion rates.
Its capability to push acquired learning to the application on the job.
Its concept of learning paths or learning journeys that can help learners gain proficiency as well as trigger the required behavioral change.
Its innate strength to offset the “forgetting curve” and convert it to the “retention curve” through ongoing reinforcements.
Microlearning will be used for a wider spectrum of corporate training, specifically for:
Just-in-time training (Performance Support Tools or job aids)
ILT support aids
Microlearning Trend #2 In 2019
Microlearning will leverage mobile learning further—particularly, apps for learning: Building on the wider adoption of mobile learning in organizations, it will be the mode L&D teams would prefer for varied corporate trainings.
It will leverage particularly on formats like mobile apps for learning where a personalized learning path with microlearning nuggets can be offered to learners. This approach can be used to provide both formal training as well as just-in-time learning aids within the learners’ workflow.
Microlearning Trend #3 In 2019
Microlearning will use personalization techniques to offer highly customized and relevant learning to each learner.
Microlearning Trend #4 In 2019
Microlearning will capitalize on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytics to offer support and personalized learning paths. Furthermore, its capability to offer recommendations to learners will ensure that they come back for more even after completing the prescribed training.
Microlearning Trend #5 In 2019
Microlearning will continue to use video-based learning as a significant design strategy. However, it will see an increase in the NextGen format, that is, interactive video-based learning.
Microlearning Trend #6 In 2019
Microlearning will be used in formal training in conjunction with successful, engaging, and immersive strategies like:
Scenario-based learning extended through a master narrative or story-based learning
Complex, branching simulations for decision making
Microlearning Trend #7 In 2019
Microlearning will be used extensively in content curation to provide “learning as a continuum”. This will help organizations create a better learning culture and facilitate informal learning.
Microlearning Trend #8 In 2019
Microlearning formats will also help in promoting collaborative or social learning.
Microlearning Trend #9 In 2019
Microlearning will continue to the preferred format to offer just-in-time training (Performance Support Tools or job aids).
Here, most of the established formats will continue. These include the popular and effective ones like:
Microlearning Trend #10 In 2019
Microlearning will support ILT trainings and VILT trainings by providing online resources:
Pre-workshop prep material
In-workshop exercises, role plays, simulations and so on
Impact Of Microlearning In 2019
Microlearning-based training is no more a buzz. It is a technique that has transformed the online training format and is here to stay.
NOTE: The usage of microlearning does not mark the demise of macrolearning or what is termed as traditional eLearning format. For instance,
This would still find its place in programs that need longer seat time, as breaking them into too many nuggets can create a disruptive learning experience.
For certain programs like compliance, several organizations will continue to use the more traditional format.
On the other hand, there would be a rapid adoption in programs like:
Induction and onboarding
Professional skills training
I hope this article throws light on the possibilities of using microlearning in 2019 as a significant part of your online training delivery or to support your Instructor-Led Training.
Gamification is not a magic lamp. It won’t solve your problems overnight. But if you plan and use it well, it will serve its purpose.
Here are the 10 best practices which you can use while implementing gamification.
1.Identify the success criteria: Define success i.e. what you intend to achieve through the activity. It is important to know the parameters of a successful outcome. Without having a clear cut desired result, you can’t find out whether the activity was successful or not.
2. Consider alternatives: Always explore the alternatives. DO NOT jump the wagon. Many a times, people ignore simple and effective learning solutions just because they find a new trend catching up. Use gamification only if it makes sense and will add on to the activity. If you think the alternative is much more effective, use that!
3. Creating a tie-in to business needs: Any activity has to tie-in with the business goals. Make sure the gamification also does. Do not use gamification just to make your content interesting. It has no value if it does not push your business forward.
4. Create a story/context: We all love stories! Develop a story around your gamification activity. Tell people the context. Give them a purpose, a reason to interact with your content. Tell them why they are earning points, saving someone or conquering something.
5. Use science to advance learning: Remember the 2 mantras – Spaced Retrieval and Retrieval Practice. Spaced retrieval helps a learner retain access to the memorized information over long periods of time because it promotes a deeper understanding of the learned material. Retrieval practices encourage a learner to recall information rather than simply re-read or re-listen to it.
6. Make scoring and winning transparent: Make scoring easy! The learner should know how his actions are related to the scores. So, he will know exactly what he needs to do in order to be successful. Also, try different scenarios. Make sure you have covered up all the possible issues that could arise when a learner is doing the activity.
7. Keep the rules simple: Really simple! Avoid complexity. Always provide a tutorial so that the learner can learn the rules beforehand and perform better. This will also help you prevent any kind of frustration that a learner might develop due to lack of knowledge of the rules.
8. Keep leaderboards small: No one is really interested in the world rankings unless he’s up there. Keep the leaderboards customizable and personalized. The learner should be able to see his position, his friends’ position along with the top 5 performers.
9. Use levels and badges appropriately: Give the learner a goal and the number of levels he will need to complete before the learning is over. Badges can be tied to either levels or enabling objectives. Badges are also a good way to show off your prowess to your friends and colleagues.
10. Test your game before you release it: It is a good way to find flaws, cheats and shortcuts that you might have overlooked. Human Beings are the most creative and lazy people imaginable as we look for a better/faster way to achieve the same result.
Let us know if you have any more points to add to the list.
Micro-learning is learning presented as short and focused
nuggets of content. Content can be in multiple forms including text, images,
videos, etc. Micro-learning presents only as much content as required for
learners to achieve a specific learning outcome. With today’s workforce
comprising of Generation Z and millennials, it is particularly valuable in
The training that your learners experience, whether in the
form of workshops, ILTs or online courses on your LMS, are mostly long-form. As
a result, learner gratification usually happens only once on course/workshop
completion. Also, because the attention span of the audience you talk to is
short, as little as 5 minutes, their interest in long online courses often
wavers causing understanding and retention to suffer.
With the help of micro-learning nuggets, you can attack both
these problems. These provide gratification in shorter intervals and prevent
learner demotivation. Also, since their length is usually kept below 5 minutes,
learner attention does not waver either.
Apart from just solving problems for the learner community,
micro-learning offers multiple benefits to individuals who own learning or
training of teams.
a. Just-in-time learning
Micro-learning can be accessed on mobile phones, LMS
permitting, without using up too much data. With content being available on their
handiest device, your learners can access it on-demand. These micro-learning
online courses can thus act as ready reckoners and prove helpful on the job.
Millennials needs more autonomy than any other generation. Allowing
them to consume relevant content, as and when they choose to, drives motivation
as well as interest. Additionally, this gives them the feeling that they can
chart their own learning paths. Learners thus apply their learning in their
daily lives and often look for content that they can consume. This reduces the
pressure on learning managers as content does not need to be pushed as much as
c. Varied forms of learning
Micro-learning principles demand concise and to-the-point
information nuggets with focused and compact objectives. Using various forms such
as games, videos, infographics, eLearning and m-learning, it can help create
specific content with effective training outputs. Along with this,
micro-learning content also helps achieve content interactivity and learner
d. Advantageous for small teams
Micro-learning offers key advantages to small teams, groups
or departments. Given their small size, setting up a micro-learning mobile app is
easy and affordable. This can be used for achieving smaller but important
milestones that a department may have set for itself.
When should you use micro-learning?
It is important to consider two aspects while applying
micro-learning strategies – business aspect and learner needs.
Here are some things to consider while using micro-learning:
a. What technology will you use?
Micro-learning’s success largely depends on how easy it is
to access. If a learner cannot easily and quickly find content that she is
looking for, it is likely that they will not spend any effort to access it
again. Not all LMSes handle micro-learning well. It is important that your LMS
deploys these courses easily and tag the learners to help them find what they
need. The LMS needs to be accessible on mobile as well.
b. Who are your learners?
It is crucial that you know your learner profile before you
design a micro-learning course. While micro-learning can be effective across
all generations, younger learners or learners who are more technologically
savvy may be more comfortable using these than those who do not use digital
To conclude, micro-learning is the best learning strategy for the Gen Z and millennial workforce. Not only can it be engaging and effective, with the right approach to creation, it can be entertaining too.
Ask most learners, and they will say that they don’t
consume eLearning because it is snooze-worthy. Most e-learning is boring, not
because trainers set out to make it that way, but because it’s not really built
to appeal. Today’s audience is more fussy, discerning and can see through
almost every learning gimmick that is thrown their way. In such a scenario, how
does one appeal to modern learners?
If you’re training a modern workforce, then they are
comprised increasingly of Generation Z and millennials, groups that were born
into a digital world. These consumers have a glut of digital content, and in as
many formats as they want. Content, on a topic that excites their curiosity, is
a few clicks or just a search away. There are even apps that serve up a
constant stream of entertainment just to ensure consumers can entertain
themselves in the few moments that they are ‘bored’.
Smartphone users spend an average of 4 hours a day on their devices, but not on your content To be able to address the problem, let’s try and understand your audience. Estimates put usage of mobile phones among modern audiences at an average of 4 hours per day (eMarketer Research). The challenge you have is stealing mindshare from apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest etc., where users spend close to 80-90% of their time, with the rest spent emailing, texting and using WhatsApp largely.
Your learners need a compelling reason to move away
from these platforms and spend time on your online courses, even if these do
benefit them ultimately.
So, what are some of the common mistakes that
trainers make with eLearning content, that puts off their learners? How can you
give learning a compelling reason to consume your content?
courses do not work anymore
The world has moved to consuming short-form content or microlearning content. Consumer research has shown that 55% internet users read a long-form post or content for less than 15 seconds.
Anything beyond 15 mins and your learner’s attention
has wandered to thinking about the latest picture on Instagram or the latest
post on Facebook.
Our suggestion: Break your existing content into short nuggets, more in the form of “Did you know?” or “7 ways to make a great sale” to make them appealing to your audience.
Zero to no
interactivity puts off learners
Users today need interactivity to keep them engaged. If your content is not interactive and only requires your learner to click the ‘next’ button periodically, then you will lose them very quickly. Ensuring that at least 30% (or 1 in 3 screens) are interactive, is a start to keeping your learner engaged. Interspersing content with games and interactive titbits will not only keep learners talking to your content but will also increase retention.
suggestion: Insert a question format every third
screen quizzing your learners on what they just learnt.
Consumers are being engaged across multiple senses
today. With the advent of video, just text and visual content does not appeal
as much. Therefore, your eLearning content must be peppered with multi-media
formats, such as audio, videos, games, etc. Even simple podcasts with a static
image will hold learner attention better than plain text. We know it’s
expensive to create media-rich content, but there are a lot of tools out there
that will allow you to do this for a fraction of eLearning content creation
suggestion: YouTube has a lot of free content on
various topics. Find short videos that can benefit your learner and include links
to these videos in your eLearning content. You can even record 1-minute audio
clips and upload them. These can improve your learner’s experience using these
contribution makes for a ‘switched-off’ learner
The world has become a lot more digitally social than
before. Consumers engage most when they are asked to contribute to an experience.
Reflect to when you obsessively checked your latest post to see the likes,
shares and comments it generated. However, most trainers ‘talk at’ the learners
rather than have a dialogue with them.
Our suggestion: Have a survey at the end of every course that takes feedback for things like process changes, the online course itself, organization survey, etc. This will provide your learners with a voice.
Everyone knows what microlearning is, it a more focused bite-sized learning to achieve specific objectives. But often, micro-learning is incorrectly implemented leading to undesirable outcomes for the course. The best fit cases for microlearning in a corporate environment are
Product Training: Product manuals are very large and typically contain too much information. The learner will find it hard recognize key take ways and forget them in days following his learning session. No one really wants to go through the entire document or video to recollect a few key features. Micro-learning can help break cumbersome courses in smaller portions, each containing 5-10 key take ways that you want the learner to remember. This will increase retention and easy recollection for the learner.
Compliance Training: Given the integrated and fast-changing world we live in, the legal, compliance and regulatory policies are changing all the time. You need to ensure the relevant stakeholders are regularly trained. Micro-learning will help deliver the key content in a continuous and easy to assimilate fashion.
Induction and HR Policy training: Ok, so you hold a weeklong Induction training for new joinees running through your company history, ethos, and HR policy. You can be assured that they would have forgotten most of it within two weeks of the course completion. HR policies regarding Sexual Harassment, Employee benefits, and Whistle Blower policies need to be delivered on a regular frequency to reinforce appropriate behavior from your employees.
Negotiation and Objection Handling: You can only organize and run so many case studies, live demonstration or use cases in a two-day workshop. You will have to keep sending short new use cases or simulations to all your learners throughout the year to maximize learning.
Research says that assimilation of content is higher when it is presented in a concise and interactive manner. Traditionally, learning comprises of long classroom sessions and large documents or videos in their online avatar. As a team leads, your aim of training your team should be keeping your learners engaged, emphasizing on key take ways of the course rather than the entire course and making it fun for them to improve adoption. Therefore, micro-learning proves to be an effective way of imparting learning to your team.
“As a team lead, your aim of training your team should be
keeping your learners engaged.”
Let’s look at a case study
and understand how you as a FMCG team lead can use micro-learning for your
You are a team leader and want to train your sales team of 350 people spread across various regions. You have an option of doing classroom training and have a couple of videos, documents, and PDFs. You have used various options, but you see that the learners are not engaged and do not retain what they have studied. You recently learned about micro-learning and want to apply its principles to training. How will micro-learning help you?
Micro-learning comes in
many forms and has elements of short to-the-point videos, interactive
interface, quizzes and assessments, gamification and infographic representation
of information. These help in knowledge retention and skill development. As
these elements are short and concise, reviewing information is an easier task
for the learners.
Videos: Traditionally, long videos of recorded sessions were used in training courses. However, with the advent of micro-learning, the approach to video-based e-Learning has changed. Short videos of not more than 3 to 6 minutes with the relevant information focused on the subject matter can help better retention and save time. Whether your training content is regulatory, on-boarding and induction related or new policies, videos can engage your employees and can be interactive as well.
Interactive Interface: We always think that a lot of content means a lot of information. However, large chunks of content in the form of long PDFs just become too frustrating for the learners to read also leading them disconnected with the material. One of the easiest ways to train your learners with engaging content is an interactive interface which can consist of small and short learning modules. It becomes self-satisfying for the learners as completing smaller modules but too many of them give a sense of accomplishment to them.
Quizzes and Assessments: You always want your learners to learn more along with higher retention. It is a great idea to use quizzes and assessments at the end of each topic or course. This helps learners retain better and gives you an idea of how much the learners have retained for designing your further courses. You can also use quizzes and assessments as contests while you launch content courses and give rewards to your learners. This suffices both your aims – retention and reward.
Gamification: It is important for your learners to come back to your courses and use them as refreshers to the topic. Gamification will help you do this. With games, your storyline becomes engaging for them and playing small games instead of going through plain quizzes keeps them on their toes. Your customized learning module can allow your learners to collect points, atop the leaderboard and level up continuously. Giving them a feeling of accomplishment helps keep them engaged.
Infographic Representation of Information: We all know about infographics. They just make your content look simpler, engaging and effective at the same time. Data in the form of graphics and charts make a unique experience for the learners. With infographic information, you can focus on key takeaways of data and statistics that a learner needs to know.
Start using micro-learning and help your team retain better!
Micro-learning online courses have been easily accepted by today’s millennial workforce. There are no large chunks of content to process, and it facilitates learning rather than imposing it on the learner.
To make these online courses more effective, these can be structured using one of four types of navigation systems – Course, Reference, Social and Game. Let us look at each of these in a little more detail.
This is the
traditional flow of learning management systems. The material is broken down
into modules that are typically accessed sequentially. The content escalates
progressively in complexity or the depth of the knowledge that is being
disseminated. Modules are generally released over a period with regular
intervals, and a break in the sequence would make the learning difficult to
When to use this navigation
format of navigation is typically used when depth of learning in a subject is
Disadvantages of this navigation
The main disadvantage of this form of navigation is that it is designed for an academic pedagogy and doesn’t relate well to modern adult learning principles. As an example, for a micro-learning system that is being designed to train a sales team with both absolute rookies and sales veterans, the content must start with the basics of sales to cater to rookies. Sales veterans would find this initial content redundant and repetitive. Their interest in the course may wane even before they’ve even parts that are relevant to them. In the course-based format, they have no option but to plough through the initial content to get to the material that is truly relevant to them. A lot of interest loss in e-learning content happens due to this.
2. Reference Navigation
This takes a
library-style approach. In this format, the learning happens because the
learner is looking to learn. When the learner wants an answer to a specific
question or explanation of a concept, he accesses the material organized as a
collection of information nuggets with a well-structured searching system.
When to use this navigation
This format of
navigation is best used when the learning system needs to be structured with a
knowledge management approach. It is particularly applicable when there are
frequent updates to the eLearning content. For example, if the organization is
in an industry which is highly regulated, like banking or aviation, such a
navigation style is good to have as it provides ready reference material.
Disadvantages of this navigation
The main disadvantage of the reference navigation approach is that learners must know what they need to learn before they can search for it. A lot of critical learning might fall through the cracks as a result. As an example, assume the learning management system deals with compliance training in a bank, and a new regulation prohibiting the opening of a certain type of account is released. An employee who does not know about the birthing of this regulation will not become aware of it, simply because he/she does not know to search for it. Reference Navigation based systems require strong notification mechanisms to handle this disadvantage.
3. Social Navigation
This is a navigation style based on Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1971). According to this theory, learning is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context and can occur purely through observation or direct instruction, even in the absence of motor reproduction or direct reinforcement. In addition to the observation of behavior, learning also occurs through the observation of rewards and punishments, a process known as vicarious reinforcement. This is a knowledge management approach to eLearning design. The learners themselves participate alongside teachers in creating and growing the eLearning material.
When to use this navigation
A classic case
of this approach is a forum where questions are debated and answered by the
participants, or there’s a panel of experts who answer questions shared by participants.
The now omnipresent mechanics of likes, comments and shares have created an
environment where this has emerged as a powerful learning navigation method.
Wikipedia, Quora and Stack Overflow are prime examples of effective social
learning on a grand scale.
Disadvantages of this navigation
The main disadvantage of this approach comes from its over-reliance on participation for content creation. In an organizational setting, driving users to participate in the learning system is a difficult problem. Gamification mechanics of points, badges, leaderboards, and rewards can be used to help the cause, but designing such a gamification system requires experts, who can be expensive and difficult to find.
4. Game Navigation
style, also known as game-based learning, is unique to the micro-learning approach.
In this style of navigation, the learner engages with the learning management system
with the intention to play a game and any learning that happens is through the
game and incidental. The learning structure in the game can span the spectrum
of complexity, ranging from simple constructs like in-game quizzes and exercises
to more complex formats like story-telling and learning through the game-play
The best example
of this style, in our opinion, is the Sid Meier’s Civilization series of games.
All titles in the series share similar gameplay, centred on building a
civilization on a macro-scale from prehistory up to the near future. As of
February 2016, the series has reached 33 million total units shipped. While the
game is designed for entertainment, it provides strong insights into history,
economics, political science and ecology, teaching players at a conceptual
level what these evolved concepts truly signify for a society.
This method of
micro-learning falls within the space of Serious Games. Serious games are
simulations of real-world events or processes designed for the purpose of
solving a problem. Serious games can be entertaining; however, their main
purpose is to train or educate users. Serious games may also be used for other
purposes, such as marketing or advertisement.
In fact, often a
serious game will deliberately sacrifice fun and entertainment in order to
achieve a desired progress by the player.
When to use this navigation
Given the buzz
of game-based learning and gamification which started a decade ago, this navigation
can be used and has been used across different types of learning, from employee
induction to even more serious topics like compliance training. Engaging
storylines and gameplay have proved effective in communicating learning concepts
in an engaging and playful manner.
A word of
caution: Avoid using this navigation for sensitive topics like POSH training or
Gender Sensitization, as it may not go down well with your stakeholders as well
as the audience.
Disadvantages of this navigation
The main disadvantage of game-based learning for learning lies in its very name. Games are often seen as non-serious, and therefore, meet with resistance from organizational decision makers. Also, the complexity of serious games need to maintain a very careful balance of challenge and simplicity to be effective. Creating effective microlearning games, therefore, does require game designers, apart from the technology, which can prove to be expensive.
eLearning is like the proverbial Prometheus’ Fire. It will deliver great good for your employees, improve engagement and increase knowledge assimilation. As an L&D leader, you should avoid the following mistakes to help maximize its effectiveness.
traditional offline or using existing traditional content: Traditional
content such as long videos, lengthy documents and classroom training
techniques are not symbiotic with eLearning. Content will have to be created
and designed to be engaging, and interactive.
creating mobile friendly courses: While this is a must for on field sales force,
it is important to roll out mlearning for all employees. Employees spend a lot
of time on their mobiles and it is imperative to make learning as informal and
accessible as possible, even outside the work place.
effective assessment tools: Putting out the most engaging and interesting
course, with no way to assess your learners, is a waste of your and the
learners’ time. Put out quizzes and exams for each section, and the entire
course. These tests should be short and fun. Use Images, videos and blurbs as
part of the assessment to improve engagement.
mechanism for the learner: Learning
is a two-way street, the higher the engagement with the learner, the more the
learning. One of the primary reasons for drop-off in engagement is the lack of
an effective feedback mechanism for the learner to express her views on the
course. Listen to what your audience is saying and act on them.
objectives: Why have you set this course up, what do you want your audience
to gather, is this course to increase knowledge, boost productivity or develop objection
handling skills? If you are unclear of the outcome of the course, your learner
will be even more unclear. Lay down objectives at the beginning and design the
course to fulfill these objectives. Gather feedback and conduct assessments at
regular intervals to modify the course.
and complicated UI/UX: So, you deployed the latest and most expensive
Learning Management System (LMS) in town, but the adoption rates are low and
dropping. This might be because its to complicated to navigate. Always approach
eLearning from the learners’ point of view, not the creators. The simpler and more intuitive the UI, the
better the chances of learners engaging with it.
Here are the 7 recommended parameters one must check to ensure that the implementation specifications are comprehensive:
1. Device Constraints – These constraints pertain to whether the micro-learning is being built for the mobile or the desktop or both. Based on the answer to this question, constraints with respect to operating systems, screen orientation and sizing, app vs. web, etc. need to be further analyzed.
2. Security Constraints – These constraints pertain to the data and access security concerns of the organization. These can range from basic questions like whether the learning is to be accessible only inside the office to more complex issues like remote wiping of learning data on exits, etc.
3. Bandwidth Constraints – These constraints pertain to the network bandwidth available for the learning system. These constraints are typically derived from surrogate analysis of geographical dispersion and network capabilities of the devices on which the learning is to be deployed.
4. Org Structure Constraints – These pertain to the team structures within the company and non-hierarchical structures (like Leadership Group, Committees, etc.) that might be present. The main aspect to analyze is the likelihood and extent of overlap between multiple micro-learning systems for a learner who might belong to multiple cohorts.
5. Engagement Level Constraints – A lot of organizations seek to tread cautiously on the extent of engagement they would like to implement. The interaction level of the micro-learning has to be kept on the fine line which creates motivation without creating obsession which hampers work.
6. Learner Psychology Constraints – Depending on the organizational DNA and employee profiles, it is critical to understand the needs and attitudes of the learner groups and design the system accordingly. In this section, it is also critical to assess how learners might try to “game the system”.
7. Learning Objective Constraints – Ultimately, it all comes down to the learning objectives that you want to drive through the system. Depending on the objectives you want to achieve, you will need to make trade-offs on engagement, length, seriousness, etc.