The value of microlearning

by Brett Henebery05 May 2017
Microlearning can be defined as a way of teaching and delivering content to learners in small, very specific bursts. The learners are in control of what and when they're learning.

Given the trend towards personalised learning, perhaps it’s not surprising that many organisations have weaved this practice into their training with the aim of boosting performance.

ATD Research's latest report, Microlearning: Delivering Bite-Sized Knowledge, surveyed 596 talent development professionals to see how their organisations use microlearning.

Of the 228 respondents (38%) whose organisations currently use microlearning, 48% anticipate the use of microlearning to increase greatly over the next year, while 44% expect it to increase slightly.

“None of the respondents expect their organisations' use of microlearning to decrease over the course of the next year, while 7% anticipate their organisations' use of microlearning to remain relatively stable,” the report stated.

“Looking at the organisations that don't currently use microlearning, the majority have plans to start in the next year.”

The report added that with a projected increase in microlearning in the future, it's essential for talent development professionals to understand how to use it effectively.

Chien Ping Tham, regional head of learning & development, Asia at Willis Towers Watson in Singapore, told L&D Professional that lately he has embraced some of the latest research microlearning, as well as neuroscience.

“Both have started to create excitement in my job, and I expect more to come,” Tham said.

“I see microlearning as a discipline that all instructional designers or trainers should learn and practice, how learning can be designed and delivered in ways to ensure that transfer of learning and the learning experience are optimised.”

Tham said that in order to visualise this process, imagine breaking up a pill before dissolving it into a glass of water.
“It is a lot more efficient and effective than trying to dissolve the pill as a whole,” he said.

According to Paul Findlay, managing director of PD Training. Microlearning could be part of the solution for managers seeking to attract and retain talented young Millennials.

“We’ve all heard the doubled-edged training story of the CIO asking the CEO ‘what happens if we train all these people and then they leave?’ And the CEO’s answer ‘what happens if we don’t and they stay?’” Findlay told L&D professional.

“Training is a long-term asset for your company, something ignored by companies managing for the short-term. Microlearning provides additional resources to traditional learning programs in line with the behaviours and customs of contemporary learners.”