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Three Immediate Benefits of Microlearning

Microlearning is just what it sounds like: breaking up learning to make lessons bite-sized and easy to digest. You have probably used microlearning without even realizing it – fast food menus, small appliance manuals, IKEA instructions, and pre-ride safety guides at Disneyland are all examples of end user microlearning.

There are several ways you can incorporate microlearning into your regular workflow and into the workflow of teams you lead.  To get started, identify a skillset your team needs and then break it up into the smallest possible units. Deliver those units one at a time and you’re well on your way to a course of microlearning lessons that will help your team expand both their knowledgebase and skillset.

What about benefits? Many people choose not to use microlearning because they are concerned that microlearning cannot cover enough ground to really see a transformation or an increase in ability. But microlearning has sneaky benefits that make the opposite true: you can cover more ground and see more transformation when using microlearning.

Here’s why:

One: Microlearning is better for long term retention

Back in school, you probably used flashcards. Flashcards are both a form of microlearning and an evidence-based learning method called Spaced Repetition. The purpose of the flashcards is to randomize what you see so your brain is used to recall on demand. The reason this type of recall training works has to do with how the brain processes information from active or working memory into long-term memory. The brain is adept at parsing information to minimize the body’s caloric usage to complete a learning task. Those calories would have been vital in our survival days of hunting and gathering. But now? The brain still needs cues for what is important enough to store long-term. Microlearning works to support those cues, meaning that the learning done within a micro context will be retained more easily by long-term memory.

Two: Microlearning works within a busy schedule

If I invited you to a daily 2-hour class where you could learn how to improve a single skillset, you would probably turn me down, right? Those two hours every day are far too precious, even for a learning opportunity. But if I asked for three 5-minute intervals throughout your day over the course of 30 days, that might be easier to accommodate. 

Beyond the time, though, it takes a certain amount of energy to conduct learning of any kind. Energy loss from learning can have a negative impact on other productivity when that learning is done in big sections. Several studies have shown that college students require long breaks and even sleep sessions to recover from long study sessions well enough to engage in further learning.

On the flip side, when microlearning happens between other sessions of productivity throughout the day, brain output for creativity and making connections is actually increased. Thus, microlearning supports an ongoing habit of the intake of information and increasing skillsets to increase production and creativity.

Three: Microlearning can an automatic habit builder

New research into the science of habit building has revealed that habits are more like recall than action. This is why using spaced repetition works in the world of habit building, as well. A habit of reading a small unit of learning and then deciding on a single action or change from that learning can lead to foundational understanding that creates a level of comfort with change. In other words, microlearning can help the brain create a habit of regulated change and consistent growth.

Summary:

Ongoing learning is credited as the foundation of so many of the world’s great discoveries and technological advancements. You can be part of that exciting movement of innovation and creation, even with a busy schedule and a resistant team. With microlearning in your arsenal, battles with stagnation and status quo are easily eliminated. Give it a shot for yourself. We would love to hear your thoughts or experiences as you use this tiny-though-mighty tool.

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