Educating your customers, partners and workforce about your products is crucial. However, as you probably already know, a robust user education strategy requires time and money to pull off. E-learning solutions like learning management systems can help reduce expenses and streamline the process to save time — but what if you’re working with a really tight budget? Or maybe you simply don’t have the extra team members to spare to create elaborate user education courses. In that case, microlearning is a great alternative.
Microlearning is a great way to create a less resource-intensive user education program, but it has a lot of benefits even if you do offer (or plan to offer) longer courses as well. In addition to being faster, easier and more affordable to produce, microlearning content can also boost learner engagement and improve knowledge retention. Plus, it’s flexible enough that you can use it to educate any kind of learner, such as customers, employees, gig workers or partners.
Microlearning is an education strategy that presents information in brief chunks of content that learners can engage with one piece at a time. There are many types of microlearning content — what distinguishes microlearning content from traditional learning content is its length. Microlearning content is always very brief.
So what’s the benefit of microlearning vs traditional learning? Microlearning has a few unique advantages over traditional online education courses.
First of all, it can improve learner retention. People have short attention spans, and microlearning serves them information that only requires a few minutes of engagement at a time.
Additionally, people with busy schedules may not have time to sit for a long period of time to complete a traditional e-learning course. Microlearning courses are perfect for people who need to learn on the go.
The various benefits of microlearning are well-documented. Take a look at some of the microlearning statistics that demonstrate the value of including microlearning content in your user education strategy:
Microlearning makes it easier for employees to focus on training content and has been shown to improve retention by 80% long-term. Some research shows it can boost employee engagement from approximately 15% to 90%. It’s common for employees to suffer mental burnout if they’re asked to sit through a long, tedious training session. Microlearning allows them to learn a little bit at a time, making it much easier to retain all the information that’s covered.
94% of surveyed employees indicated they prefer microlearning over longer courses and 65% feel their company’s training courses include too much information at once. Clearly, employee training is more effective when it’s presented in microlearning formats. When employees are given the chance to learn using their preferred methods, they are more likely to succeed.
Microlearning theory is also good for improving course completion rates. Research shows that the average completion rate is approximately 83% for a microlearning course that takes 10 minutes to complete. On the other hand, traditional courses have a completion rate of only about 20% - 30%. This is often due to traditional courses exceeding the typical user’s attention span. A learner might also abandon a course if they aren’t able to fit it into their schedule. Offering microlearning courses instead is a viable solution to both of these issues.
“Microlearning” is a fairly broad term for a whole theory of learning. The only real requirement for content to be “microlearning content” is that it’s significantly shorter than traditional learning content. There are many types of microlearning content that take many different forms. Here are a few common microlearning examples that show some of the different types of microlearning you could incorporate into your user education strategy:
Videos are one of the most flexible learning content formats. You can use a video to teach your workers, customers or partners almost anything. For example, you could use a video for onboarding training or demonstrate a scenario for HR or compliance training. You could also use a video for a quick product demonstration. Another great thing about videos is that they can get the point across concisely. Often, you can show a user something much faster with a video than you could explain it with text. This makes short videos a great format for microlearning content.
Infographics are another type of microlearning content. Infographics often fit the microlearning style because they combine visual images and text to communicate more efficiently. If a user has to read through several paragraphs of statistics, they may quickly lose interest. However, an infographic could provide the same information in a visually appealing, easily digestible way.
When you break learning content into small chunks, it creates opportunities for gamification. You can reward learners with badges or certifications to motivate them to progress through the content while keeping the individual steps to a manageable length.
Any kind of training course can be microlearning content as long as you keep it short. Even if you don’t include a wide variety of content formats, simply breaking up your courses into smaller chunks can lead to significant improvements. When courses are shorter, users can learn whenever it’s convenient for them even if they have little time to spare. Northpass enables learners to move along customizable learning paths that direct them from one relevant micro-course to the next.
There’s nothing wrong with including traditional, text-based content in your learning strategy. It’s important to cater to all different kinds of learning styles. Many people learn best by reading the information, so a blog post about a new product update for customers or a post about a new standard operating procedure for employees can be very useful. Keeping these posts short ensures learners aren’t overwhelmed with more information than they can retain at once.
Quizzes are another useful content format to include in your microlearning strategy. Quizzes can be just a few questions long and help assess whether or not learners are retaining what they’re learning in your courses.
It’s not particularly difficult to apply microlearning to your user education strategy. The first step is to learn about microlearning best practices. Here are some of the most effective ways to implement microlearning courses:
This one almost goes without saying (since we’re talking about microlearning exclusively) but it’s also the most important point to remember. Microlearning relies on short course lengths to improve engagement and retention. Not only should you keep the length to a minimum, but also don’t try to cram too much info into the course. A short but cluttered course is no better for retention than a long one.
One of the main advantages of microlearning is that it allows busy learners to engage with content on the go. This means that many of your users will be accessing your educational content using mobile devices. All your microlearning content needs to be optimized for mobile devices so you don’t alienate this significant portion of your user base.
Each microlearning module should only teach the learner one idea. Microlearning is all about communicating important information to the learner quickly and efficiently. You don’t have much time to work with them before you risk losing their interest. Covering more than one topic at once is detrimental to the learner’s retention because the whole point of microlearning is to give them one bite-sized piece at a time.
Everyone learns differently, but most people prefer a combination of mediums. Courses that include nothing but text can sometimes be hard to get through, even if they are short. If you include some kind of visual aspect in your microlearning courses, it can actually help your learners absorb the information better.
A one-size-fits-all approach rarely works for user education. It’s important to identify and address the individual needs of each user. Tailoring the learning journey helps keep learners engaged by ensuring they’re getting value every step of the way. This is one area where a learning management system like Northpass can help.
When you’re choosing topics for your microlearning courses, consider your customers’ biggest pain points and design a module around each. If you need to, break pain points down into multiple modules to ensure you cover the topic thoroughly. Just don’t try to cover multiple pain points in the same module or you risk cluttering it.
It can be very difficult for some users to learn in isolation. You can add social features to your user education program, like discussion forums or Q&A boards where users can interact and find support. This is a great way to leverage the whole community’s collective knowledge to improve user education.
It’s critical that you have a way of determining the impact your microlearning courses are having. Many learning management systems like Northpass provide tools for analyzing your user education strategy. By tracking the progress of your learners and examining the way they’re interacting with your microlearning content, you can gain valuable insights and use them to improve your education strategy.