Type “what is microlearning” into your browser and an overwhelming number of results pop up. In fact, that exact search may be what brought you to this blog in the first place. Microlearning is clearly something people are talking about these days. And that means there are a lot of definitions floating around out there, which can create confusion when you’re looking for examples, tools and best practices to implement in your education or training programs.
Some might look at the root words “micro” and “learning” and safely assume it’s small spurts of information. While not entirely incorrect, this definition barely scratches the definition of what true microlearning is, and most importantly, why it’s one of the most effective forms of corporate learning on the market today. Others associate microlearning with content and fail to consider arguably the most important part – how that content is delivered.
While there is no hard and fast definition of microlearning (as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now), there are a few best practices that the leading learning, training and education teams are using today. This blog will walk you through those best practices and share real-life examples of how they’re helping organizations build proficient and performance-ready workforces.
The Best Microlearning Solutions Are Rooted In Science
Studies show that in as little as 30 days, 79% of what we learn is forgotten. German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus coined the term the “forgetting curve” to demonstrate the dramatic drop off in knowledge retention he discovered in his research in the late 1800s.
Unfortunately, most learning platforms and methodologies on the market today don’t take this into account. The best microlearning solutions do and are scientifically proven to combat the forgetting curve and foster optimal information retention. How? That’s where microlearning’s signature principles, the spacing and testing effects, come in.
Spaced Learning Leads To Long-Term Knowledge Retention
Microlearning takes a spaced approach to presenting information to promote maximum knowledge retention. In fact, one of Qstream’s founders, Dr. Price B. Kerfoot, is recognized as a spaced education pioneer and has run over 20 rigorous, peer-reviewed clinical trials on this approach, proving it works over and over again. Scientifically speaking, reinforcement through the application of knowledge over time enhances memory and the survival of new neurons. Pretty interesting stuff, right? This increases the efficiency of the uptake of information and encodes the information so that we remember it long-term.
Thanks to this spacing effect, our customers have been able to increase knowledge retention by up to 170%. This leads to markedly better job performance that is easily tied back to business outcomes.
The Testing Effect Trumps The Forgetting Curve
Think back to when you took exams in high school or college. You likely spent several days (or the night before) studying the material. While your cramming might have helped you ace the test, how much of that knowledge can you recall today? How much could you recall a few weeks after? This is no fault of your own; it’s simply how the human brain works. We are not built to remember information that we are only asked to recall once. Unfortunately, many workplaces are still employing the same learning method used in education.
Testing, or retrieval practice, should be an active learning process that occurs over an extended period of time. Microlearning tests learners at key intervals where they are likely to forget information and uses immediate answer feedback to ensure the correct answer is stored in the brain. This method dramatically improves knowledge retention. Studies comparing the testing effect to passive learning without testing (reading or watching a video) and conceptual mapping (drawing diagrams to relate concepts) show that the former approach is far more effective.
The proof? Our customers have seen up to a 17% average proficiency gain. And that knowledge easily transfers to better individual job performance and overall business success.
The Best Microlearning Solutions Leverage Scenario-Based Learning
One of the most effective learning methods, scenario-based learning, uses real-life situations to teach critical job skills at scale. This controlled training environment lets learners safely practice and master processes and procedures, which is especially important in high-consequence industries like healthcare. Scenario-based learning can be applied to just about any field of work. It can be used in training to demonstrate a wide range of learning topics from safety practices when operating machinery to sensitive soft skills for workplace communications.
The method of learning also helps new employees practice building their confidence so they can hit the ground running.
The Best Microlearning Solutions Are Fast & Fun, But Timely & Relevant
The best microlearning solutions on the market aren’t just effective in promoting long-term knowledge retention; they also prioritize the learner experience, making learning challenges quick and engaging for increased participation over long periods of time. This includes just the right amount of gamification so learners can see how they stack up against their peers and the flexibility to complete questions from a mobile device anytime, anywhere. Our customers say their learners often answer Qstream questions during their breaks or when they’re coming and going from work. Learners appreciate Qstream’s mobile microlearning does not pull them away from their work for hours-long training sessions and managers love that microlearning makes their employees more productive.
True microlearning also uses the testing-based model, where learners are first assessed to get a baseline and then fed content based on their unique proficiency. This enables personalized learning journeys that are more valuable and relevant to each employee, which leads to increased productivity and engagement with learning programs. In fact, our customers see a 93% average participation rate across Qstream learning challenges.
The Best Microlearning Solutions Offer Valuable Insights & Analytics
Microlearning’s testing approach inherently provides insight into proficiency across the company – by individual learner, team, division and region. This information helps managers coach their direct reports, guides L&D teams’ learning strategies and gives business leaders insight into broader knowledge gaps that could be of potential risk to the business.
For example, when one of our customers conducted an onboarding Qstream to ensure that new hires were ramping up, they uncovered that over half of respondents were not instructed on how to properly clock in for their shift. They were quickly able to address this problem with staff and make sure this key step was worked into their onboarding plan going forward.
The Best Microlearning Solutions Enhance Your Other Learning Tech Investments
Microlearning is not intended to replace the LMS or other HR solutions, but rather to complement them and make the entire learning ecosystem more valuable. And the top microlearning solutions even offer state-of-the-art integration capabilities. Qstream Connect, our integration software as a service, snaps microlearning into your existing HR tech stack to automate learning and meet employees in the flow of work.
These powerful integrations create more streamlined learning experiences. For example, a Qstream can be sent out to get a baseline understanding of a certain topic. Based on the results, L&D teams can determine if the organization as a whole needs additional training. If only a few individuals struggle with the concept, an LMS course can be automatically recommended to them. This makes learning a journey for employees – one that’s personalized, adaptive and enables them to become stronger contributors to the business.
The Best Microlearning Solutions Make Creating, Storing & Repurposing Compelling Content Simple & Easy
Thoughtful content is key to engaging learners and the best microlearning apps make creating high-value content quick and easy. For example, Qstream’s content hub is built for creators of all experience levels and comes standard with built-in best practice guidance for formulating compelling questions that make information stick. True microlearning understands that no two organizations are alike and offers customizable options. For example, Qstream lets you customize several elements of your programs, such as the timing, pace, algorithm, and learner cohort so you can build content that resonates with your unique set of learners.
And since the saying goes, work smarter, not harder, Qstream’s microlearning solution stores all the assets you create in a library for easy access so content can be updated and reused across relevant programs.
But what really separates the generic from the outstanding microlearning solutions is a commitment to customer success. Qstream has a dedicated team of experts that will create content for your microlearning programs. Our team designs, communicates, manages and analyzes your learning programs. We work hand-in-hand with your SME, content contributors and project managers to plan, design and draft your Qstreams using our proven best practices.
Microlearning Is Here To Stay
I hope this blog post has given you a better understanding of microlearning as a concept and why it’s a critical component of a modern and effective L&D strategy. Microlearning solutions will only continue to gain traction as companies scale learning for hybrid workforces and work to combat burnout from traditional, longer training courses.
Organizations ahead of the curve are already experiencing the many benefits of microlearning, so what are you waiting for? Schedule a demo!