The Benefits of Microlearning: 8 Minutes to Make an Impact
Whether we realize it or not, we’re microlearning all the time. Short bursts of learning can occur anywhere—from watching a how-to video online to reading a recipe after a quick web search. Social media users are leveraging microlearning tools to educate their audiences and grow their platforms. TikTok and Instagram have even surpassed Google as the preferred online search method for 40% of Gen Z users—yet neither service is a dedicated search engine.
Adults want to learn, but their busy schedules make it hard to find time for education. The short time commitment makes microlearning an appealing option. People are also more likely to remember small bits of information acquired in a short amount of time as opposed to large chunks of content during a long eLearning course.
Just like social media influencers, corporate organizations and higher learning institutions can take advantage of this flexible learning style to educate their users, increase retention rates, and improve overall outcomes. Read on to learn more.
What Is Microlearning and Why Does It Work?
Microlearning is an instructional strategy that breaks down complex topics into short, standalone learning units. The lessons are designed to be quickly and easily understood by learners.
It’s an ideal strategy to use for mobile LMS users, especially since by 2025, nearly 75% of people will only access the internet via their mobile devices. That said, learners can of course still access microlearning courses on their computers, which can make it easier for professionals to upskill without interrupting the flow of work.
Microlearning is an effective teaching method because lessons are condensed to the most critical pieces of information. This is a good thing for learners because research indicates that attention spans are shrinking. Short-form lessons are more likely to hold students’ attention and keep them engaged with the content.
The minimal time commitment also makes it more likely for learners to complete lessons. Many professionals will cite a lack of time as their reason for not finishing a training module. They’re simply unable to dedicate time in their work day for an extended training or professional development course.
Microlearning solves this problem by delivering knowledge in very small bits—usually under 10 minutes at a time. It’s much easier for employees to fit in a 10-minute lesson before their lunch break than it would be to schedule a 30-minute course.
From the higher education perspective, time is also a barrier for students. The average undergraduate taking a three-credit hour course in the United States should be spending nine hours per week engaging with course materials, but that doesn’t mean all of that time should be spent receiving information.
Those course hours should include participating in discussion groups, reading and researching, and completing course assignments. When students take three to five courses at a time, as well as hold down jobs, they’re much less likely to complete eLearning tasks that require long time commitments.
What Are the Benefits of Microlearning?
Flexibility isn’t the only positive thing about microlearning. This short-form education strategy has a variety of benefits for both students and organizations. We’ve outlined three of these benefits below.
1) Improved Retention
Small bursts of learning have the potential to improve outcomes for adults. One study found that 71% of surveyed learning professionals say microlearning can increase knowledge retention.Nearly 68% believe that it increases engagement.
That’s good news for higher education institutions and organizations alike. Students who retain knowledge will be more likely to progress through their degree programs successfully. In the corporate sector, employees who retain greater amounts of knowledge will not need to be retrained as frequently.
2) Improved Outcomes
Interactive microlearning can help students retain more information. Features like instant feedback and progress tracking keep learners motivated, so they want to learn and improve. This has positive implications for organizations and institutions because employees and students will likely apply what they’ve learned to their jobs and continued educational pursuits.
3) Easy Tracking
Microlearning lessons lend themselves to easy data collection. Course segments can—and should—be incentivized by offering learners instant feedback, badges, and other motivators meant to encourage their progression through the course. Based on the digital markers that a learner has been awarded, instructors can easily note how much of a course each person has completed.
Detailed learning analytics can also be derived from students’ microlearning progress. Organizations and institutions can then use this data to evaluate the effectiveness of their content.
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How Can You Start to Leverage Microlearning?
There are a lot of resources available to create microlearning course content. In order to develop robust learning programs, it’s important to choose your content carefully. You’ll need to decide which topics are essential for your learners to understand, as well as which concepts they’ll need to apply to be successful within your organization or institution.
It’s essential that whatever topics you choose are easily broken down into manageable chunks. Complex concepts cannot always be fully understood by watching a 10-minute video. Instead, you’ll need to ensure that your content can be split across multiple microlearning modules that each focus on a small, manageable idea.
Video can be a great tool for microlearning, but watching a video won’t be enough for your learners to truly understand and retain the knowledge they need. Instead, focus your efforts on using a variety of tools and activities (for example, short quizzes and reflection assignments) that will check your learners’ understanding while building their confidence with the subject matter.
It’s also important to incentivize learners. We’ve noted above that incentives provide you with easy data points for tracking your students’ progress, but they also serve as motivators for learners to participate in more microlearning lessons.
The options for incentivizing participants are endless. Organizations and institutions might use more tangible awards like office supplies, gift cards, or preferred parking passes. Of course, instant, digital incentives are also popular—and cost-effective—alternatives.
For example, digital badges are popular incentives for adults because they can be displayed across social media as recognition for completing an eLearning module. This can motivate the learner to continue earning badges, as well as potentially motivate others to start an eLearning module so they can earn badges, too. The badges also serve as free publicity for your organization—an awesome bonus!
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What Tools Can You Use to Create Microlearning Courses?
Once you’ve determined how you’ll break down topics and incentivize your learners, you’ll need to decide how to measure their understanding. Your learners need to demonstrate competence as they move through the microlearning modules.
This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Short quizzes, interactive video tasks, and reflection assignments are all quick ways for learners to show you what they know. These activities also give you valuable feedback on the effectiveness of your courses.
There are many different tools available for teaching, incentivizing, and measuring student learning, but it’s best to whittle your options down to three or four strategies. Research suggests that having too many options can cause learners emotional distress. Using a smaller selection makes it easier for your participants to predict the “flow” of the course, and it makes it more likely that they will stick with it.
Video is a popular microlearning tool, and there are many ways to incorporate it into your modules. For instructors, video represents an opportunity to show their genuine selves and build connections with their students. Video content can also be supplemented with face-to-face interactions to reinforce previously learned concepts.
You can take video a step further by using H5P to enhance your content. H5P lets you create videos with embedded quiz questions and “hot spots”—clickable aspects of the video that contain additional relevant information.
H5P can also be used with text-based media to add elements like podcasts, images, and other multimedia content directly onto the text page. This keeps the information engaging for the students and offers the opportunity to immediately reinforce their learning.
The options for creating microlearning content are nearly limitless with so many digital tools at your fingertips.
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Everyone Wins With Microlearning
When we consider how microlearning fits more easily into adult learners’ busy schedules and helps them retain more information than traditional lecture-style courses, there’s no denying that microlearning is a great teaching strategy. It yields better results for students, and that means better outcomes for organizations and higher education institutions. When your workforce or student body is well-educated and well-trained, you’re more likely to see greater success.Ready to see how you can leverage the power of microlearning? Contact our experts to discover how microlearning can fit into your instructional plan.