A style of learning that is typically less than 3 minutes, content dense and engaging, microlearning covers just one or two learning objectives.
This style of learning comes in many formats including text, video and audio, or a combination of all three. Micro-learning can be incredibly powerful, providing concise, focussed and just-in-time content.
But why, when there’s so much information in the world, would we use microlearning as a tool for delivering training and upskilling the workforce? Let’s remind you of The Forgetting Curve, a theory formulated by Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1885.
The Forgetting Curve describes how learned information drops from our memories over a short period of time. Unless action is taken to retain information, the loss is sharpest in the first 20 minutes, with a significant decay over the first hour, levelling off after about 24 hours.
The impact of the forgetting curve is lack of knowledge retention, potentially increasing the need for meaningful, relevant, on-demand skills training in the future.
There’s no single way of learning that’s right for everyone, perhaps why traditional education routes such three years at university and a degree are not going to get us out of the current skills crisis, which, according to The Open University, is costing UK businesses £6.3 billion each year.
Bite-size learning delivers almost twice the return on investment of a traditional approach through less time spent in training and a greater transfer of skills from training to the role(i).
Whilst Hermann Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve dates back to 1885, the diminishing attention span of today’s learner, coupled with increased distraction from multiple communication channels in a more connected world are fuelling the growth of consuming bite-size and micro snippets of information as an effective way of learning.
It’s not just us here at Academii championing micro-learning as a tool to up-skill and re-skill, big brands are getting behind the concept too. Google famously sends ‘whispers’ to their staff(ii), providing short snippets of information such as how to provide positive feedback, with the content often linked to the manager’s survey results. Tiktok have also launched an educational fund(iii) to promote #LearnOnTikTok, with content ranging from health hacks to song writing tips, instructions on floral arrangements, and even lessons on how to cook the perfect steak.
According to research, microlearning can improve focus and supports long-term retention by up to 80%(iv). It has several advantages over more traditional forms of learning including being more relevant, saving costs and improving engagement. Another advantage of microlearning is that it’s relatively easy because the topic is broken down into short, bite-size chunks and the learner consumes information at their own pace also making it far more accessible for those with barriers to mainstream training and education.
It’s undeniable that the UK is in a skills crisis but what if the way out of it was giving everyone in the workplace (and beyond) the opportunity to learn new skills, at their own pace, which is cost effective for the employer? Sounds simple really.