Bite-sized Learning – Why Should You Use It?
Bite-sized learning, more commonly known as microlearning, has been taking the L&D industry by storm, and rightfully so. Microlearning as a concept is nothing new; we’ve trained people for a long time by exposing them to training for short durations of time, emphasising interactive repetition for better learning retention. Most of this, however, has been unstructured and informal. Just think about all the times that your colleagues have shown you a new trick on the the company information systems, and made sure you can do it on your own before letting you go.
Finally, now that we are starting to see companies to develop more structured approaches to microlearning, it’s important to remind ourselves of the fundamentals on what makes this bite-sized learning approach so efficient.
1. Microlearning is suitable for expanding on existing knowledge, and to further develop already existing skills.
People today are more educated than ever. All of your employees have a vast pool of knowledge to draw from, whether that comes from their formal studies and qualifications or their work experience. They know at least the basics for the most of it. In the corporate world, it’s very seldom that we teach entirely new skill sets. Giving your learners access to quick-to-consume content helps to activate their memory and brain around the topic at hand. A lot of the things we actually do know already but they’re not in our active memory. Microlearning works well on adding small incremental bits of knowledge to the learner’s existing pool of knowledge.
2. Microlearning is easy to manage and handle for learners and trainers.
From a L&D manager’s perspective, microlearning is attractive because the production is more flexible. You don’t need to finish a course before publishing, but rather curate and publish single-objective learning nuggets one by one – adding incremental bits. Technology is definitely helpful in this regard, but it pays to keep in mind that we are crafting learning for the sake of learning, not to showcase our latest tech gimmicks.
Also, from the learner’s point of view, bite-sized learning can make things easier. People dislike wasting their valuable time on things not relevant to them or things they already know. Rather than going through a lengthy course on many subjects, learners can consume short pieces of content to determine their existing skill level and knowledge on different topics, and to better focus their learning efforts going forward. Also, microlearning pairs nicely with mobile technologies, enabling people to consume a few minutes of interactive content here and there which in turn helps them manage their time better.
3. Microlearning can double as performance support.
Ever since the inception of smartphones and mobile internet, people have seemingly developed a distinctive behaviour: rapid queries. If people don’t know something, they search it online. If a retail sales assistant doesn’t know how to operate the cash register, he/she probably asks her colleagues. But what happens when the problem is too specific, there’s no internet or no colleagues to ask from?
This is where microlearning doubles nicely as performance support. Once our knowledge and learning is structured in a micro format, we can effectively query things and refresh our memory on the spot. For example, a technician maintaining a factory machine might encounter a problem he/she doesn’t recall a solution to. A fast query via a mobile device to the bite-sized learning content enables the technician to consume information about a very specific issue while remaining on-site, with as little downtime as possible.