When learning and development (L&D) leaders seek to remedy poor learner engagement rates, the promise of tech that generates bite-sized learning modules to boost employee participation is understandably tempting.
Breaking up training into bite-sized microlearning chunks that can easily be revisited is, of course, a well-tested method to make content more digestible and memorable. However, just like a crash diet, the results will be short-lived and ultimately superficial if you over-rely on the microlearning method rather than the quality of the content overall.
When engagement levels are low, you need to get to the root of the problem. It is usually linked to low quality content that is poorly delivered, dull or unhelpful.
You may be able to boost basic key performance indicators (KPIs) such as completion rates by dissecting the material into digestible bites, but how can you deliver training that makes a long-term impact on the bottom line?
Tips for Microlearning That Makes a Macro Impact
Focus on Quality
Ultimately, there is no shortcut to learner engagement. To achieve high engagement, you need carefully-crafted, motivating content that targets very specific objectives. When bite-sized learning is designed and applied well, it can help to significantly reduce the time it takes for employees to achieve competency levels in their training and can combat the forgetting curve to improve training retention.
The important thing to note here is that completing the training more quickly is not the main focus — it is a beneficial side effect of achieving high engagement levels, which motivates learners to repeat, repeat, repeat.
In order to achieve this through bite-sized content, instructional designers must find creative solutions to deliver the same information in a variety of engaging and fun ways. This helps the learner revise, revisit and retain information without it becoming tedious and losing impact.
Make It a Personal Fit
The accessibility of microlearning content using mobile devices helps personalize the training journey because you can fit the training around your life, learn at your own pace and repeat elements that you struggle with as many times as you need to. This flexibility takes away so many of the limitations that are linked to even the best designed classroom training sessions, webinars, videos and presentations.
Context Is Key
While there are major benefits from smaller bursts of learning activity in terms of knowledge acquisition and retention, any learning that fails to contextualize lessons with real-world scenarios loses the impact. Providing context is critical so learners can see how they will apply their learning on the job.
This is where 3D simulations, immersive reality, virtual reality and other experiential training solutions can prove to be very effective solutions.
Immersive Experiences Designed for Impact
Simulations don’t just provide context — they allow learners to step into the context and learn by doing in realistic scenarios. Compare this to peer learning and it is easy to see the advantages of simulation content.
Realistic simulations help businesses set the same high bar for all trainees at scale, whilst providing the opportunity to make mistakes, experience the consequences and learn from them in the safe space of training mode.
They provide the learner with the opportunity to receive high-quality training and practice realistic scenarios that simply would not be physically possible or cost effective in the real world.
Designing the content with various levels of difficulty or complexity gives the learner the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, correct and adapt their behaviors and progress their performance in their actual roles.
Combine Micro and Macro
As part of your L&D strategy, it can be highly beneficial to plan how your microlearning and “macro-learning” opportunities can work well in tandem. For example, you could plan for learners to reach the same knowledge or skill level using bite-sized learning content before a larger group lecture, classroom session or training event is scheduled. This optimizes the time spent with an expert or coach — providing them with the opportunity to delve more deeply into nuanced areas or detailed Q&As.
Equally, microlearning content can be used to help consolidate lessons from macro-learning sessions — allowing individuals to revise information in smaller bites as much as they need to, at their own pace.
With so many types of learning content available, it is important to find a balance that supports your strategic goals. The allure of quick fixes in the form of microlearning modules is understandable, but it’s the substance of the content that truly matters. To ensure long-term impact, it’s crucial to invest in well-crafted, engaging content that motivates learners and leads to better business outcomes.