Beyond the hype of micro learning: 4 steps to holistic learning

"Micro learning" has recently emerged as the latest buzzword across the learning and development industry

“Micro learning” has recently emerged as the latest buzzword across the learning and development industry, with many touting it as a silver bullet for meeting the changing needs of “digitally distracted” employees, writes Rosie Cairnes

While short snippets of information delivered on-demand is often a hugely effective learning method for time-poor, email and social media-overloaded staff, it is by no means a panacea.

Best practice learning and development has long been at the heart of most successful organisations. According to research by Bersin by Deloitte, organisations that are better at skills development are 37 percent more productive, 26 percent more able to develop high quality and innovative products, and 58 percent more likely to have skills to meet future demand.

But these benefits can only be realised through truly holistic learning and development programs, which incorporates micro learning as part of a broader mix. Here is a step-by-step checklist for developing a holistic learning program for maximum business impact.

Developing a holistic learning program
1. Set your goal. Before looking at any provider or learning methodology, you first need to ask ‘what is your ultimate goal?’ Do your staff need to achieve permanent credentials or is top-line general knowledge all that’s needed?

“While short snippets of information delivered on-demand is often a hugely effective learning method for time-poor, email and social media-overloaded staff, it is by no means a panacea”

Remember, too, that each person or department will have different requirements, so you may need a series of goals for each. The type of learning you choose should be based on which delivers the best final outcome for the individual, and ultimately the company. Keep your goal front and centre with every decision you make along the way.

2. Personalise according to the learner’s preferences and needs. Once you’ve set a goal, it’s important that each program is tweaked and personalised according to the learner. Some, for example, may have more advanced knowledge in particular areas than others. Their learning program might therefore involve a quick refresh, while others need a full course.

Also, consider where the learner is located and their proximity when deciding how they’re going to be taught. If your staff work remotely, micro learning could be very beneficial to through a series of on-demand e-learning sessions. When working with clients, we ensure our content is contextualised for specific jobs, problems, locations and processes. Individual assessments are necessary in determining whether you need micro learning or something more immersive, or a combination of both.

3. Make the content and method fit the teaching. Too often learning delivery methods are based on the content a company has available or that they believe is most informative.  This is particularly the case with micro learning because the content is so accessible and cost-effective for many companies that it allows them to tick the ‘training’ requirements box, forgetting about outcomes. If you really care about best practice and seeing the positive impact of learning across your business, you need to reverse the order.

Work out what you need to teach, then look for content delivered in a way that will teach it most effectively. For example, ‘mindset’ teaching may be best done through illustrations, whereas you might require a trainer to moderate a panel discussion for more group-style learning. Look for consistency in pedagogical approach and instructional design techniques that are tightly connected to learning objectives. Always make the content fit the teaching, and be aware that different topics require different treatments for the subject to be most effectively taught, retained and, most importantly, applied.

“You’d be surprised how many organisations neglect to make training interesting”

4. Make it interesting! One reason micro learning has become so popular is that it is vastly different and more consumable comparative to days-long workshops generating a chorus of sighs across an office. You’d be surprised how many organisations neglect to make training interesting. Whatever you’re teaching, the learning method needs to grab their attention to make it memorable. Otherwise, what’s the point? Consider your audience’s age, interests and style and work with a provider on content that will grab their attention.

We place a large emphasis on content with high entertainment value such as acting, 3D graphics, rapid motion, animation, real-world scenarios and storytelling. If you’re using the right platform or technology for your learning and development, the ability to select content with maximum impact should come with the package.

When developing your learning and development program, a holistic approach will provide the best results for your employees – boosting retention and engagement and, in turn, delivering significant benefits to your business.

Image source: iStock