Jim is the training manager of a large pharmaceutical company. The drug maker recently developed a 60-minute online course, on its new antibiotic, for its medical representatives. The course contained stunning animations and was highly interactive. Jim expected the course to be a major success. However, it proved to be a dismal failure, recording very low completion rates. Many learners complained that the course was too long and they felt overwhelmed.
Many in the L&D community face a similar problem. Why are learners unable to “digest” long courses? What makes lengthy courses fail? The culprit is the short attention spans. A study by researchers at California Irvine revealed that most people have a very short attention span when working on the computer, with a median duration of focus of just 40 seconds. The study also found that people find it hard to remain focused on a single digital activity, such as going through an online course, for long periods. The writing on the wall is clear – long courses do not work.
How can this problem be resolved?
You need to go for microlearning – an online learning paradigm in which learning content is delivered in the form of “information morsels”. The content is divided into several small chunks, each about 10 minutes in duration. Each microlearning module is self-standing and addresses one learning objective comprehensively. You can get the best results by breaking down a sizable subject into bite-sized modules and allowing the learner to take them in the order of his choice. When the learner finishes all the modules, he would have completed the subject. You can use microlearning to impart training on various aspects, such as products, safety and regulatory affairs, software, and so on.
How does microlearning help improve the quality of learning and improve performance?
Enables achievement of one learning objective at a time
We have seen that a microlearning module addresses one learning objective very comprehensively. This enables learners to take one step at a time, ensuring that they comprehend the subject matter thoroughly, before moving to the next module. Needless to say, this results in learning of very high quality.
Provides specific, relevant information to the learner
The learning content of a training program can be categorized into two types – need to know and nice to know. A web-based course usually contains these types of content. On the other hand, a bite-sized online learning module contains only the need to know information, required to perform a job task effectively. This saves a lot of learners’ time and makes learning “to-the-point”. It eliminates confusion among learners as to what is important and what is not, and provides only information that helps them perform the job task well.
Facilitates convenient access to learning content on mobile devices
We live in the age of the mobile. Over, the last few years, the number of people using their smartphones and tablets to access the Internet is growing by leaps and bounds, and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. A report, by Cisco, predicts that mobile data traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 47 percent, from 2016 to 2021, reaching 49.0 exabytes per month, by 2021. The phenomenal growth in the use of the “mobile Internet” is compelling companies to adopt mobile learning (mLearning) methodologies in a big way. Bite-sized web-based learning modules are ideal tools to facilitate learning on smartphones and tablets. The short duration of these modules enables learners to access them on the small screens of their smartphones and tablets very conveniently.
Delivers just-in-time (JIT) learning support of high quality
Microlearning courses are ideal tools to provide effective just-in-time (JIT) learning support to your workforce. Consider the following two scenarios.
A salesperson of a financial services organization is interacting with a prospect, trying to impress upon the latter in his company’s mutual fund. The prospect asks the sales rep how the mutual fund over the last 6 quarters. The rep opens a learning nugget on his iPad and provides the required information instantly.
A customer service representative of a large automobile company wants to present a ticket for viewing a cricket match, to the general manager of a public transport organization, a client of the automaker. The rep is unsure whether the act would constitute a violation of the anti-bribery law. So, he refers an infogrpahic, on his iPhone, which specifies the gifts that can be given to employees of customers.
We thus see that microlearning goes a long way in facilitating effective learning and enhancing performance levels. Break your lengthy eLearning courses into bite-sized modules to impart the winning training to your workforce.