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Microlearning – Ushering a New Era in Skill Development

Skills gap – a problem that is profoundly affecting the productivity of the 21st century company. A study by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) has revealed that the following skill gaps have a serious impact on American companies:

  • 62%: Communication/interpersonal skills
  • 58%: Managerial/supervisory skills
  • 58%: Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • 51%: Leadership/executive-level skills
  • 50%: Process improvement and project management skills
  • 41%: Technical skills

How can this problem be resolved? What does it take to improve the skills of employees in an effective, cost-efficient manner? You need to go for microlearning.

WHAT is Microlearning?

Microlearning refers to the delivery of learning content in the form of short online learning nuggets, each having a span not more than 10 minutes. The learning content is divided into several bite-sized modules, each covering a specific learning objective. The learner can access the modules in the order of his choice. When he completes all the modules, he would have gone through the entire learning content.

WHY is Microlearning the Right Choice to Build Skills?

1. Microlearning is Perfectly Suited for the Learner with Short Attention Spans

It is a well-known fact that new-age learners have short attention spans and multitask. They often have to meet tight deadlines and can seldom attend long online training sessions. These factors make micro learning well-suited to impart knowledge and skills to the millennial workforce. Furthermore, most Gen-Y learners are gadget-savvy and use a variety of mobile devices, and this makes bite-sized courses the perfect choice to deliver training. More about the delivery of learning nuggets on mobile devices in a moment.

2. Bite-sized Courses are Ideal to Impart Skills through the Mobile Device

The Internet is increasingly becoming mobile. A report by Cisco predicts that the global mobile data traffic by 2021 will be equivalent to 122 times the volume of global mobile traffic ten years earlier (in 2011). The phenomenal growth in the use of the “mobile Internet” is compelling companies to deliver their skill development programs through smartphones and tablets. The short duration of microlearning programs makes them well-suited for delivery on mobile devices. Bite-sized learning modules, unlike lengthy e-learning courses, can be accessed very conveniently on the small screens of smartphones and tablets.

3. Learning Nuggets can be used to Address Varying Levels of Skill Requirements

It is a well-known fact that the skill requirements of all employees in an organization are not of the same level. For some, basic skills are enough to do their jobs, while others may require advanced skills. For instance, the sales people of a pharmaceutical company need to know only the basics of the statutes related to off-label marketing, while the legal personnel of the company must have an in-depth understanding of the law. Many organizations are developing web-based learning curriculums, comprising several bite-sized learning modules to impart skills of varying levels. Some of these modules can cover the fundamentals of a subject, while others can deal with advanced concepts. Learners can go through the modules relevant to them and skip the rest.

HOW Can Microlearning be used to Develop Skills?

1. Harness the Power of Bite-sized Videos

Videos are inarguably the most popular learning format and go a long way in imparting skills in an effective, engaging manner. You can use micro e-learning videos to build technical skills. These learning media elements can be used to demonstrate the functioning of various components of products in a highly effective manner. For instance, a 5 minute video can be used to explain how the picture tube of a television works very clearly. You can also use bite-sized videos to provide good just-in-time support to service technicians. Check out this scenario.

A service technician is called to repair a faulty air conditioner. The technician checks the device and determines that the problem lies with its compressor and should be replaced. He accesses a 6 minute video, on his iPad, which demonstrates the steps of the procedure to replace the compressor and fixes the problem.

Bite-sized learning videos can also be used to develop communication skills. Learners can be shown how to get the various aspects of communication such as body language, tone, gestures, and so on right, so that they can convey the intended message effectively. One of our clients in the insurance sector has developed a video-based curriculum to improve the abilities of its sales reps to communicate effectively.

2. Make the Best Use of Bite-sized Online Problem-based Learning Modules

You can use micro web-based learning modules containing problem-based elements such as scenarios and case-studies, to stimulate critical thinking powers and impart problem-solving skills. One of our clients in the pharmaceutical sector presents its learners with real-life case studies of drug makers who were penalized for violating the norms specified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and this enables the learners to analyze what went wrong and identify the steps to be taken to prevent such violations.

3. Use Gamified Micro E-learning Courses

We all know that stress is the biggest enemy of effective learning. Gamified bite-sized online courses can be used to very effectively to impart skills of higher order such as leadership abilities, in a fun-filled manner. One of our clients in the manufacturing space has developed short web-based, gamified business simulations to complement the learning delivered in classroom sessions. These simulations proved to be very effective in helping learners hone their negotiation and decision-making skills.

We thus see that microlearning modules are very useful to impart skills to workforce. How do you intend to use bite-sized learning modules to improve your people’s skills? We’d love to know.

Where Does Microlearning Fit in Your Learning Strategy?