Best Practices in HR

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Avi Singer
  June 3, 2017

How to Make Microlearning Work for Your Organization

These brief, 5-10 minute training videos are easy to create and their brevity makes it convenient for even the busiest of employees to consume. While it’s a great way to give employees information, the challenge is reinforcing the material and helping employees apply and retain it. Microlearning can only work well for an organization that knows how to utilize it as part of a broader, cohesive strategy.

Formal, in-person classroom learning affords employees an opportunity to be immersed in the material. Instructors can see whether or not employees are grasping the lessons and modify their teaching style or explanations accordingly. Students also have easy access to the instructor and can freely discuss the material with others in the class. There is often the opportunity for role play or case studies as well.

Microlearning, by contrast, is obviously a quicker way to get information to employees. It also allows them to learn remotely and when they are free. However, it’s dubious that employees will be able to review and reinforce what they learn from these bite-sized videos. Think about it. Your average person watches plenty of videos on YouTube or Facebook every day and recalls very few of them. Most people simply watch and continue scrolling. Without engagement or active participation, a video is easily forgotten.

Microlearning is understably an attractive solution, because of how easy it is to create and access the content. But, are employees really learning anything? For learning to effect behavioral change, employees need to be immersed in the material and measures must be taken to ensure that the material is reinforced and discussed so that it will stick.

It’s wonderful that many organizations are now gung-ho about providing their employees with easily accessible learning and career development solutions via mobile and microlearning applications. However, we urge organizations not to settle for quick fix solutions that allow them to check a box in a shallow attempt to please the HR department. Short-term tactics unguided by a comprehensive strategy are bound to fail. Microlearning solutions must be supplemented by additional resources, such as in-person training, written materials, live chats or discussions, and training exercises.

Providing employees with learning and career development content is great, but simply installing a fancy content aggregator without creating an actual learning culture is a complete waste of time and resources. It’s nice to provide the material, but it can also overwhelm employees who could simply turn to Google when they have a question or run into a problem. What’s more important than feeding employees content is having an underlying philosophy behind it that values employees’ career development and seeks to help them grow.