Organizations of all sizes, across industries, have long looked to the learning management system (LMS) as a tried-and-true solution for delivering and tracking learning. And while the LMS isn’t a new addition to the learning technology market, the demand for LMSs continues to rise. Valued at $16.19 billion in 2022, the LMS market is expected to grow to $40.95 billion by 2029, according to Fortune Business Insights research.
As companies spend ample time and money selecting, implementing and managing their LMS, it begs the question: How can they maximize their investment and perhaps more importantly, is the LMS really equipped to support the learning needs of the modern workforce on its own?
Here, we’ll consider a better approach — integrating mobile-delivered microlearning with the LMS to ensure that learners have the information they need, when they need it, and why this integration is a smarter and more sustainable business solution. But first, let’s consider what microlearning is — and what it isn’t.
What Is Microlearning, Really?
The concept of microlearning is often misunderstood as simply delivering short, easy-to-digest pieces of content to learners. Thus, many learning and development (L&D) teams’ microlearning strategies consist of taking full-length courses or pieces of content (e.g., webinars, workshops, podcasts, etc.) and cutting them down to “micro-size.” For instance, repackaging a four-hour workshop into a 30-minute webinar or repurposing a 30-minute webinar into a five-minute explainer video.
Although short, digestible content is a key component of microlearning, it’s not the only component to take note of. The part about microlearning that tends to be overlooked is how it’s delivered and presented. True microlearning brings learning directly to the learner through nudges and reminders that are spaced out over time. This approach, known as “spaced repetition,” uses brain science to achieve long-term knowledge retention which, consequently, increases the likelihood that employees will apply what they’ve learned.
Microlearning Platform and the LMS: When To Use Which
Many companies are already using an LMS as a central location for managing training.
However, as more companies adopt microlearning platforms to make learning available on demand, at learners’ fingertips, it’s important to consider the benefits — and shortcomings — of using both microlearning platforms and an LMS to support your training initiatives.
The LMS is often touted as a “one-stop-shop” for learning, as most systems are equipped to handle nearly all aspects of the training process, from administration to content delivery to tracking completion. This can undoubtedly make the lives of busy L&D professionals easier by eliminating the need to manually enroll learners in courses, track and report their progress, and conduct other activities that can be administered by the platform. Because the LMS acts as a central location for administering and managing training, it also spares learning leaders from having to juggle multiple systems and platforms for learning, which can be a headache.
The LMS is also equipped to deliver comprehensive (and often lengthy and less relevant) courses on foundational topics like onboarding and compliance, which may require more in-depth instruction than training on more job specific topics, like selling skills and product training.
It’s clear that the LMS has its benefits. However, like any learning technology, it also has its limitations, including (but not limited to) the following:
- It requires time and expertise. It takes both time and a certain level of technical expertise (depending on your platform) to get an LMS up and running, and to manage it over time.
- It can be inaccessible. To access a course in an LMS, an employee must pause what they’re doing, log in to the system and find the course that addresses their problem at hand. This takes both time and energy, which can deter employees from seeking out the training they need to do their jobs effectively. For employees in front-line or customer-facing roles, learning housed in an LMS can be even more inaccessible, as these employees are typically unable to step away from the job to learn, and often seek learning in their moment of need, such as looking up new product features to share with a customer. There is also a cost associated with having employees take time out of their work day to complete training in an LMS.
- It can cause learners to disengage. The LMS is able to deliver lengthy courses which, as previously mentioned, in cases like compliance or onboarding can be beneficial. However, today’s learners are busy and don’t always have the time — or energy — to sit through an entire course (and if they do, chances are they’ll disengage fairly quickly). And most of the time employees go through the training to just get it done. In addition, training housed in an LMS can quickly become stale and outdated, as it takes time and effort on the learning leader’s part to go in and ensure the content is up to date. Between lengthy courses and outdated content, learners can easily become disengaged — and discouraged — from learning.
While the LMS is known to be the main learning technology to house, deliver and track learning, microlearning offers a supplemental vehicle which delivers short bursts of content directly to the learner.
Many microlearning platforms allow learners to practice applying what they’ve learned through gamified, interactive simulations that resemble their work environment. This helps training remain job focused and relevant to the learner. For this reason, microlearning is an effective way to target individual skills gaps across the organization.
Microlearning is also an effective way to reinforce learning (whether delivered through an LMS or elsewhere) by pushing out quick “refresher” training to learners over time, which can help to improve knowledge retention. In fact, in a recent study on learning professionals’ experiences with microlearning, 71% of respondents said they “see its potential to increase knowledge retention” and nearly 68% believe that it can drive engagement.
Lastly, while LMSs track and compile learner completion data, most learning systems’ tracking and analytics abilities end there. Microlearning platforms, however, can garner real-time insights into skills and knowledge gaps across the organization, giving you the insight you need to deliver more impactful training and coaching.
Ultimately, by delivering hyper-relevant, quick “nuggets” of content to learners in their moment of need, employees are more likely to engage with, retain and apply what they’ve learned.
When it comes to determining whether an LMS or a microlearning platform is the right solution for your training efforts, the answer isn’t an “either/or” but rather a “both/and.” A microlearning platform won’t replace your LMS as your system of truth database for training, but it can augment it with short, actionable pieces of content delivered to learners in their moment of need. In short, they’re better together.
Training professionals might be wondering, “Does this mean I need to manage two separate systems?” The short answer is “no.” Most microlearning platforms are able to integrate directly within an organization’s existing LMS. The result? Greater learner engagement, retention and on-the-job application.
Whether you have an existing LMS or are considering purchasing one, integrating microlearning into it can boost the return on investment (ROI) of your LMS well after your initial investment, improving both learning and business outcomes well into the future.
To learn how Qstream’s microlearning app can help you reduce training time and improve knowledge retention, visit https://qstream.com/.