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Could microlearning be an effective training method?

The skills gap continues to get bigger. New technologies are so fast to the scene that few people know how to use them properly. Could microlearning help?

The answer to that question is far from a simple “yes”, “no” or even “it depends”. Well, the last one may be the closest, but it’s still not good enough. In order to know whether microlearning could be effective for you and your organization, you first need to know what the problem is and then what microlearning is.

It is widely believed that microlearning is becoming the next big thing in training. And on the face of it, it may be so. After all who wants to spend hours and hours in a training room? Who can even spend a few days learning and reading instead of starting to use the thing right now and learn as time goes? These days the attention span of people is getting shorter and shorter because they are simply bombarded with information from every possible direction and for every possible thing.

So microlearning could be the answer. It focuses on being short and sweet, to the point and on the moment when you need it. But this doesn’t mean it is an universal answer for everyone and every case. Quite the opposite. You may have disastrous results if you apply microlearning to the wrong audience and in the wrong way.

Microlearning tends to work better for learners, creators and even trainers. What this means is that you can’t use it for someone who knows nothing about the topic. You will just confuse them more. Instead the people should already know their way around the software for example and with microlearning you can simply add on the needed things to their knowledge.

This technique is useful for teaching one thing at a time. If you want to make a person completely fluent in something with microlearning arm yourself with patience. Otherwise you will simply achieve the opposite result and make the trainees even more confused.

Microlearning is great for refreshing courses from time to time after a big proper training. Use short videos (below 4 minutes each). Go for 120 words per minute, be short, to the point, no fluff and riff-raff. Focus on the quality, not the quantity.

Remember that with microlearning the learners are in control of what they are learning and when. So you best make it available on more than once device/source and also insure there is some time frame in which there should be either a questionnaire answered or some results showing as proof that the lessons took place and are actually effective. Also be sure to keep the content up-to-date.

Image credit: Flickr (CC) / GotCredit