micro-learning has macro impact

26/8/2021

Micro-learning has gone beyond the buzz to become a key component of learning and development programs in organisations globally, and there’s good reason for it.

Evidence suggests that mixed-method learning, or a combination of types of learning including in person and online in various forms, is usually the most effective strategy overall for adult learners. Neuroscience also suggests that adult human brains tend to be more open to forming new neural pathways, otherwise known as neuroplasticity, when we are in social settings with mild arousal. However, research also shows that learning in short bursts over time, where the topic is focused (and often delivered at the learner’s convenience, often digitally) may help to retain 20% more knowledge over time than those who only learn in bulk.

In our experience, micro-learning is ideal as an introduction to a topic before deep learning, or to embed knowledge and behaviour change after immersive training programs and workshops occur – helping to avoid the ‘forgetting curve’ and improve performance at work.

Learning on our wrists and in our pockets

Micro-learning is what it says – small amounts of engaging learning content, delivered sequentially and spaced out over a period of time, usually until you master a topic or skill. It often involves a buzz, notification or nudge to prompt the user to learn, usually through a web or app-based program. There’s a level of control for the user, which can work well for busy, time-poor learners with competing responsibilities.

Micro-learning and ‘nudging’ can dramatically impact behaviour too by gently shifting us towards learning something, making a decision or taking an action. Just in time reminders can prompt us to move more, to express gratitude, to meditate or learn a new skill. Many of us will be familiar with the impact of smart watches on fitness. “Closing your rings” is now part of the common vernacular of Apple Watch wearers globally – an everyday indicator that you’ve achieved your activity goals.

The advances in mobile phone technology have also opened up potential for learning on the go, away from the classroom. Technology allows people to have choice and control of some of the variables - setting notifications, time they want to spend, device type, and choosing the location of learning at their convenience such as while travelling or even exercising. For modern workers, this is a refreshing change that offers flexibility, and increases the likelihood that they will engage in the training. Lower commitment, in both time and mental load, makes the learning more accessible and likely to happen.

Mobile phone and smart watch technology has powered the rise of micro-learning on the go

Micro-learning is becoming part of our daily lives

Over the last fifteen years, micro-learning has increased in popularity. In the Journal of Work-Applied Management, Leong et al (2021) evaluation highlights how human attention spans have decreased and a need for instant gratification has increased as a result of our internet-powered immediacy. This has paved the way for the micro-learning trend to grow in popularity and impact.

Hesse et al (2019) suggest that micro-learning can actually support feelings of confidence in work-based decisions. Validating decisions with a few minutes of micro-learning to affirm or challenge thinking could become a more common part of our days as people transfer skills and roles with more mobility.

Micro-learning can help break the status-quo

The human brain is a fascinating place and thanks to its neuroplasticity, is changeable. Humans will establish neural pathways based on experiences and habits formed over time. With this experience, a number of biases can form which subconsciously affect the way we think and behave. We often call these tendencies.

Despite our amazing ability to change the way we think and behave thanks to neuroplasticity, one common bias is the status quo bias. This is the human tendency to avoid change. To make a change, even if we logically want to, we need to remind our brain regularly and repeat this behaviour until we create a new neural pathway and then the new change becomes a habit. Micro-learning can help to remind, reinforce and repeat new knowledge until it is ingrained. For organisations looking to initiate change and embed wellbeing, understanding the neuroscience of how people typically respond to change can be very helpful to influence emotions and behaviours too.

Is micro-learning part of your L&D program?

Industry research predicts that micro-learning is likely here to stay, offering a just-in-time solution that encourages people to learn at their point of need.  Forbes Human Resources Council suggests micro-learning is the future of professional development, as it helps make training simple and fun. Beyond short and engaging videos and activities, good micro-learning programs will often also feature animations, infographics and chatbots. Playful elements like this can heighten positive emotions, which also broadens and builds cognitive capacity for learning.

Another part of the appeal of micro-learning within organisations, especially with many people working flexibly, shift work or working from home, is the ability for micro-learning series and programs to reach employees wherever they are, on mass. This delivery mode allows for training to be offered to everyone concurrently, with valuable features like multilingual captions and other accessible functionality so people of diverse abilities and cultural backgrounds can be equally engaged.

Micro-oranges for all!

The Oranges Toolkit now offers a range of micro-learning solutions as part of its comprehensive workplace wellbeing programs. The unique Seven Segments of Wellbeing Framework is now available in micro-learning solutions that can be accessed anywhere, anytime, affordably. This includes:

- NEW Vitality Videos: Bite-size educational series offering engaging 2-5 minute videos each week or fortnight

- Seven Segments of Wellbeing Self-directed and Social e-learning with videos and practical activities, where you choose the segments (Optimism, Resilience, Attitude, Now, Gratitude, Energy and Strengths) and whether you learn independently or together online with our easy-to-follow facilitator and support guides

- Resilience-building Micro-learning App Series is a short question and answer series with added animations and rich media to support skill mastery on the Forget-me-not App platform

Each of these solutions enhances your learner experience and offers ways to build wellbeing easily and effectively without asking a lot of your employees in terms of time and commitment. This micro-learning approach recognises that globally, employees are feeling the pressure and fatigue of continued restrictions and uncertainty. It may be just the juice they need!

Get in touch to explore how we can build micro-learning into your wellbeing strategy.

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