Microlearning has been a learning and development (L&D) buzzword for the last few years. We can define it as a targeted short (generally taking no longer than five to 10 minutes to consume) course, piece of content or task that focuses on a single learning objective. Examples of microlearning include a short eLearning course based on a single concept or scenario, an infographic or interactive PDF, a short educational or instructional video or animation, or a brief webinar.

Here’s how to use microlearning content as part of a compliance training program:

1. Design for a Single Purpose

A traditional training course generally focuses on several learning outcomes. For example, an anti-money laundering course could focus on the risks of money laundering, customer identification, detecting red flags, terrorist financing, and monitoring and reporting. A microlearning course, on the other hand, would focus on a single learning outcome — for example, the placement of laundered money.

Microlearning courses should not be “sliced and diced” components of an existing course, especially a large eLearning course. Instead, learners should be able to complete them as standalone units without the need for prerequisite information. Its goal should be the learning or development of a single skill or idea.

Make microlearning courses available for employees’ just-in-time need — for example, a business development manager who is about to talk to a competitor. A simple review of a microlearning object on a mobile app can provide them with the knowledge of what is legal and appropriate information to share with a competitor.

Takeaway: Ensure that each microlearning course is based on one simple idea or message.

2. Be Prepared for Pushback

Compliance training often receives a lot of pushback from staff, especially if an organization delivers the same or similar courses every one or two years. Setting additional training tasks as part of a compliance training program may be met with protests. It is important to be prepared for this pushback.

When rolling out microlearning courses, either as stand-alone entities or as a part of a larger training program, be careful not to market it as “training.” The word may unintentionally provoke a negative response in some employees, especially if they are already required to complete several other courses. Instead, consider the “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) and how the microlearning will benefit them — for, instance, as just-in-time information.

The fact that the course is called “microlearning” should help let employees know that you aren’t expecting too much time from them. When telling staff that the courses are required, emphasize that they can complete them in only a few minutes and that they will be useful to access on demand for on-the-job questions and challenges.

Takeaway: Promote the benefit of microlearning as information that will help employees when they need it.

3. Use Scenarios

Scenarios are a useful way to demonstrate actions and their consequences, especially in relation to compliance. Ensure that some of your microlearning content involves a scenario that is relevant to your audience by portraying something that could happen in their role.

The scenario could be in a short eLearning format, an interactive PDF, or a video or animation. You can place individual scenarios on a learning management system (LMS) with a broader eLearning course as part of your compliance training program.

Takeaway: When creating a scenario-based microlearning course, ensure it is simple, relevant and realistic.

4. Blend It With Other Learning Modalities

Microlearning can be a good introduction before an in-person or online training session. When designing a compliance training program, consider introducing a topic or topics in microlearning courses prior to a more in-depth exploration.

Microlearning courses can act as “teasers” for training, especially if used with posters, emails, videos or other promotional material to entice curiosity. Using it this way may help to reduce fears or frustration about compliance training. It can also be helpful after a training session to reinforce ideas.

Takeaway: Use microlearning courses before and after instructor-led training (ILT) to arouse curiosity and reinforce learning.

5. Use Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition presents learners with an idea and then shows them similar content repeatedly so that over time, they will retain the idea and change their behavior. Many educational apps, such as game-based language learning apps, use spaced repetition.

In a compliance training program, schedule the delivery of microlearning content prior to and after additional forms of training, such as face-to-face or virtual training sessions. You could send the assets could be sent via an LMS or reminder emails and/or host it on an intranet or company portal.

Takeaway: Space microlearning courses over time to cement learning and create behavioral change.

Microlearning is an important component of a compliance training program. Creating targeted content focused on a single learning outcome will help instill essential knowledge and create behavioral change. By having resources available on the go, learners can access on-demand information when they need it.