Basically, adults are terrible learners.
So there are two options.
- You can try and force retention for training sessions, with quizzes, certifications, and (potentially) consequences for forgetting your training.
- You can implement micro-learning at your organization — and embrace the fact that most training is forgotten immediately, so you just train on a tiny amount, all the time.
Today, we’re going to dive into that second option.
What is micro-learning?
Micro-learning is pretty much what it sounds like — it’s a very small amount of learning, so that it’s impossible to forget.
There are a few characteristics that should be called out that separate micro-learning from just a smaller training session:
- It’s usually organized into courses or programs
- What you teach is directly related to what your team is doing
- It’s often gamified, to build that internal pressure
- Video content is often the focus
- There’s some sort of validation that the training has been completed / absorbed (quiz, etc... )
Here’s how you can implement it within your own organization.
1. Identify your learning objective
Before you do anything you need to understand your learning objective. What do you want people to know that they don’t know now? More importantly, why? What organizational challenges are you trying to solve, and why is micro-learning the best way to get there?
2. Find your content — and break it up
Now that you have your learning objective, you need to find your content to support it. This will likely be content you already have, but it’s often constructed as an overall training day or longer course.
So you need to break it up, or recreate snappier versions of it. Quick-and-dirty videos are often a good way to do this work.
Ideally, this is more of an editing job than a creation job, but sometimes you may find yourself with a content gap. If you’re not the subject matter expert, get them on a Zoom call and ask them the questions you need answered. Record the whole thing, and cut that into a short video. Voila — micro-learning content ready to go.
3. Organize your micro-content into a course
Now that you have you to organize your content into a tiny course. If you know your content and your organizational objectives, then building out a course should be relatively straight forward.
However, if you’re struggling, you can always storyboard the course and then show it to a few end users. Get their perspective on it — see what makes sense to them and what doesn’t, and adjust accordingly.
4. Deliver your content when it’s relevant
This is the trickiest step, and often the one where you’ll need a tool to do it right. The goal here is to deliver your content when it matters, so that your learning is reinforced by actually doing the thing you’re teaching your team to do.
For example, let’s say you’re reinforcing and training on compliance. Ideally, you’d have your team go through compliance training right before they are in a position to make a decision about compliance.
5. Gamify your experience
This is an optional step, but if you can gamify your experience, you’ll have far more positive learning outcomes. Create a points system, a leaderboard, or some kind of rewards system that allows people to compete.
Learners will be more willing and more engaged with the education you deliver, and you’ll create a mechanism to reward those who do well. At the same time, if you can gamify the experience, you’ll get more regular learning engagement and improve information retention.
6. Validate your learning objective
This is the most important set of all when it comes to micro-learning.
You need to ensure that you’re taking the time to validate that you’re achieving your learning objectives, and that those learning objectives are leading to better organizational outcomes.
It’s easy to forget that any learning initiative is ultimately a means to an end. In other words, it’s how you get to a particular outcome not the outcome in its own right.
This is easy to lose sight of when you’re in the thick of building and deploying micro-learning.
So once your program is out in the world, take some time to evaluate and see if it worked.
You’re looking for two things.
1. Did your learners achieve their learning objective?
In the case of micro-learning, this might be evaluating if quiz scores are higher, or more training was taken, or more people are certified and in full compliance with your training rules.
If these numbers haven’t improved over your baseline, that’s ok! You just need to revisit the drawing board and try something else to engage your audience.
2. Was your organizational outcome achieved?
For example, if you’re a business, you might roll out micro-learning for your sales team to increase your win rate. So after your micro-learning has been deployed, you need to evaluate the people who took the training versus those who didn’t — did you see an increase in win rates?
It’s imperative that you close the loop on your learning programs to prove that the work you’re doing is helping your business or association achieve its overall goals.
Learning is hard, and as adults, we’re not very good at it. Combined with the pressures of our jobs, it can often feel like an extra task that just gets in the way of ‘the real work’.
But study after study shows that upskilling your team is one of the best returns on investment an organization can get. So it’s well worth the effort (even if it doesn’t feel like it).
Given this problem — we know learning is valuable but no one wants to do it — micro-learning can be part of the solution.
It makes learning more digestible, improves retention and effectiveness, and if you can gamify it, can drive engagement across your organization.
If learning is a tool you want to use to achieve lofty organizational goals, then micro-learning should definitely be a tactic on your short list.