Microlearning 101: Best Practices in Microlearning

Meredith Odgers
Meredith Odgers  |  April 1, 2019

Today’s workplace is saturated with diverse ways of thinking, working, and communicating. Traditional corporate functionalities are being challenged every day by employees who are pushing organizations toward creating a more dynamic and flexible work environment in which they personally feel valued and invested. 

Microlearning best practices

Many chief learning officers (CLOs) and learning and development leaders train employees the same ways they always have: through lengthy, classroom onboarding programs or via time-consuming, generic eLearning modules that don’t hold employees’ attention. Either strategy often falls short of achieving long-term knowledge retention.

Because each employee responds differently to various learning styles, this comprehensive “one-and-done” strategy isn’t suitable for everyone and far from dynamic, flexible, or personalized.

Enter microlearning.

While it’s quite a different approach to traditional onboarding and training methods, microlearning aligns with what science tells us about memory and retention. Studies show that in as little as 30 days, 79 percent of knowledge is forgotten. This is called the forgetting curve.

Best practice microlearning combats the forgetting curve with two scientifically proven methods: the spacing effect and the testing effect. The spacing effect uses interval reinforcement to help commit information to memory, while the testing effect is an active-learning process that can dramatically improve knowledge retention when combined with immediate feedback.  

These factors explain why microlearning is an effective way to promote knowledge and skill retention, as well as help improve employee proficiency, performance, and productivity.

(Best) practice makes perfect

To experience the maximum benefit of workplace training and greatly enhance employee performance, consider implementing best-practice microlearning as part of your L&D strategy.  

Not all microlearning programs are created equally.

Like other learning initiatives, microlearning should be timely and relevant to your employees. Making sure microlearning fits into your employees’ daily workflow with content that is highly relevant to the job’s duties not only delivers role-specific training they can apply immediately, but also helps reinforce what they’ve already learned. 

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The best results are seen when the microlearning content is scenario-based, which challenges the corporate learner to think critically about real situations that could happen on the job. Improving job proficiency requires foundational hard knowledge, but also benefits from developing skills and behaviors that help employees to know how they should do their job. 

Additionally, by utilizing peer benchmarks on responses and real-time leaderboards that showcase the progress and participation of team members, best-practice microlearning incorporates social and team-based learning, which is the theory that people learn from one another best by observation, imitation, and modeling.  

The use of game mechanics also maximizes learner engagement. For example, point scoring is an effective way to bring out natural human competitiveness and stimulates the desire to perform well. This fosters higher engagement, which is critical to the success of any corporate training program and its impact on improving employee proficiency.

Does it stack up?

Microlearning easily fits into your HR and learning tech stack because it can either augment existing programs by reinforcing knowledge and skills, or it is increasingly replacing ineffective or difficult to measure learning methods. The future should look to how to get data in and out of HR, learning, business and microlearning systems to facilitate linkage of business goals and learning outcomes. In the sales function, for example, integrating with a customer relationship management platform such as Salesforce or Veeva CRM could provide valuable insights and leading indicators of a team or individual capabilities and their impact on productivity and sales performance. 

TIP: Check out CRM statistics for 2019! 

This convenience increases employee participation, and since best-practice microlearning provides real-time feedback and comprehensive proficiency and engagement insights, L&D leaders are able to quickly discover knowledge gaps that would otherwise be difficult to uncover or subjective observation. This data allows frontline managers to precisely tailor coaching to individual needs in real time and improve job behaviors today, rather than waiting to take action until after a learning program is done.Needless to say, modern corporate learners want and demand their whole employment experience to be in the flow of work and mobile, or as an app on your desktop, phone, or tablet. In today’s digital age, mobile phones and devices offer the most accessible way for busy, remote, and on-the-go employees to be consistently trained and engaged.

Choose wisely

Now that you understand how best-practice microlearning can fit into or replace your existing learning programs, remember these five key criteria when looking for a microlearning solution: 

  1. Fits within a learner’s daily workflow
  2. Focuses on scenario/situation content
  3. Engages learners and frontline managers
  4. Works at scale in a global enterprise environment
  5. Provides metrics to show ROI and link learning outcomes to business goals  

See the best microlearning platforms, FREE →

These five aspects comprise a well-rounded, best-practice microlearning strategy that is proven to boost employee proficiency, productivity, and performance – ultimately resulting in better business outcomes. 

Want to learn more? Check out how to promote professional development in your workspace!

Meredith Odgers
Author

Meredith Odgers

Meredith, Director of Marketing at Qstream, and her team bring the Qstream brand to life for customers, partners and Qstreamers alike. As corporate learning and development needs evolve, she is focused on continually communicating the value of Qstream’s microlearning solution as a strategic tool for learning leaders to adapt to new demands. She works closely with her team, sales, product and services to drive business growth through the adoption and usage of Qstream. Prior to joining us in 2016, Meredith spent 20+ years as a B2B marketing and demand generation leader in Australia and Asia, and is now based in the UK.