Microlearning is consolidating as an online training tendency that is becoming more and more popular. Proof of it is the interest that has been shown by the distinguished journal “Observatorio de Recursos Humanos” at publishing an article related with the topic. In this month’s issue, you’ll find an article written by Oscar Dalmau, Director of Centro Internacional de Formación Continua Fundación Universitaria del Bages. Campus UManresa (UVic-UCC), and Miguel Angel Muras, CEO of Adaptative Learning and Snackson. In this article, we analize the essentials of microlearning and its application in corporate environments. Moreover, we ennumerate a series of uselful advices to implement microlearning as a methodology in your training plan.
In an information society, characterized by immediacy, constant evolution and always-on connectivity, it is necessary to provide new choices to create more appealing, motivating, catching and user-orientated dynamics of formation. Not surprisingly, vital rhythms hasten more and more, which implies that users decide in just a few seconds if what they are seeing is of their interest or not.
The way in which we consume information, knowledge and training through Internet is evolving. Some points of departure:
- According to a study carried out by the University of California, the span of time that an adult spends navigating the web with no distractions is of 9 seconds.
- Humans threshold rate to assimilate large amounts of textual content is only about 6%-7%. This percentage decreases even more when the information does not result relevant or useful for the person who receives it. If a page has approximately about 2,100 characters, this percentage would correspond to around 140 characters; the same that is used by the instant messaging named Twitter.
- YouTube is a great video contents repository, also at the level of educational attainment and of a good quality. In agreement with the latest statistics, the average time users spend watching a video, before switching or closing the page, is about 1:04 and 2:43 minutes. Videos lose almost all the audience and user’s attention at the minute number 5.
The challenge of learning
We understand learning as the process of connecting nodes of knowledge that must result interesting and useful for the addressee.
The concept of knowledge pills is very old in the field of online training for companies and organizations. However, the progress in the participation of users makes clear that as days go by, attention, interactions and learning decrease dramatically beyond the satisfaction for the lived experience, which is direct.
In this sense, microcontents should be quick to see and must foment the connection between areas, ideas and key concepts in an entertaining and participatory way. Microlearning should become a model for training users, complementary to online training, combined and in-person. It must contribute with new tools the need to ensure learning and its transcendence.
Deconstructing elearning microlearning
According to Wikipedia, a snack is a “portion of food, often smaller than a regular meal, generally eaten between meals.” Generally, it is used to satisfy hunger temporally, supplying a minimum quantity of energy for the body, or simply for pleasure. In this sense, we should understand microlearning: as knowledge packed in small portions (microcontents) destined to be consumed as a complement to the main training programs (courses, workshops, entertaining programs, etc.) It can be used to satisfy the immediate learning needs that we might have by providing a minimum quantity of knowledge or simply for the pleasure of learning.
In the areas of training, development and human resources in companies, it is not affordable to have unsatisfactory training activities, nor activities that don’t result useful for the organization in terms of change, performance or professional improvement.
Microlearning must be easy to produce, quick to access and use, and be orientated to its distribution via mobile phone.
We must favor, improve and maximize the learning desired in each of the training and development activities that we propel, and, it is for this reason that in microlearning we may not include additives if the basis of the knowledge is of good quality.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to transform the way to serve, present and offer that microcontent to users. To that end, we must apply new techniques and criteria in its design, approach, packaging and consumption proposal, in the same way that in haute cuisine techniques as deconstruction, spherification, foaming and others have been incorporated.
To cook it differently, in microlearning the new production techniques are built on pedagogical grounds, didactic and communicative, combined with good dose of creativity, image, and audiovisual communication, energetically shook, plated and served with a topping of gamification, social network and mobile.
Advices on elaboration
These new ways of preparing the training contents (in the same way as the menestra en texturas, in English “vegetable soup in textures”, or the falso caviar de melón, which in English means “simulated melon caviar”, created by the chef Ferran Adrià) demand that we give the most of us in our kitchen when we create learning objects. Some advice and suggestions in this regard:
- Break with the idea of a ruled, flat and sequential training. It has been proved that we don’t learn in an orderly manner, but by impulses and connections to nodes of information.
- Contents should be made to be seen in a short span of time. Always imagine users in their everyday life: Could they watch that content while they wait for the metro? Equally, it should be available for saving and resending.
- Customize learning objects as much as possible so that it agrees with the context of the participants and the organization.
- The target of the content must be to encourage reflection; including assistance and support strategies so that users can achieve their objectives (instructional scaffolding).
- Contents should bring new useful and practical knowledge to users. We must expose ideas or concepts in a direct and clear way.
- It is better to divide into different learning objects than to saturate one only informational content. Less is more.
- If we can include videos, we should try that they do not last longer than 2 minutes and, moreover, make sure they are dynamic.
- Make the most of the additional information section in order to provide useful information about the content shown.
- Offer content in diverse formats and intersperse them: videos, pictures, illustrations, animations, texts, questionnaires…
- We must play with questions and activities: they can go at the beginning, mixed… be of a different typology… Additionally, they can become an individual or group challenge, and we can combat others along the process.
We can, therefore, understand microlearning as the natural evolution of micromedia (Twitter, Vine, YouTube, Tumblr…). With microlearning, we leave aside what is superfluous and we concentrate on the relevant facts and key information.
Microlearning must be easy to produce, quick to access and use, and be orientated to its distribution via mobile phones. It is a strategy that allows an agile use of content, adapting it better to our pace of work and moving it closer to the moment when it is really necessary or when we are more receptive.
Microlearning is ideal in global environments. It contemplates the multiple intelligences theory, fact that makes it ideal for every kind of users. It is particularly useful in professional sectors in which there are upgradings of products or regulations continuously, given that the content in the format of small pills has been shown to offer better knowledge retention rates.
Microlearning does not mean learning in “small lessons”. It consists of small learning objects, of diverse formats and which have sense by themselves.
Advantages and benefits of Microlearning
- Have just-in-time access to contents.
- Consume training in small chunks and in a very appealing and interactive way.
- Mobile: It goes with them to the workplace.
- Social: It makes the interaction with other users easier, as social networks do.
For the company/organization
- They have an impact on users in a steadier manner.
- Immediacy when it comes to the updating and spreading of knowledge.
- It may complement other training activities (in-person, online or combined), before, during or after them.
- Manages training indicators in a more innovative way (share of audience, usefulness and knowledge dissemination).
In short, it is time to take one step further in regards to our way to understand training and eLearning in companies. Incorporating disruptive and innovative strategies as microlearning can help us to stimulate, relaunch, reposition and cast the model and the proposal of training in our organization. This evolution does not mean the breakup with other training models. By the same token, technologically, platforms or LMS that allow the management of microlearning must communicate and interrelate with the preexisting ones at a corporate level in order to facilitate a comprehensive and conciliatory management. It is a new definition of training that must enrich our corporate strategy of talent development in order to make it more efficient, useful, appealing, social, and mobile.
Director at International Centre for Continuing Education
Fundación Universitaria del Bages. UManresa Campus (UVic-UCC)
MIGUEL ÁNGEL MURAS,
CEO. Adaptative Learning. Snackson
By clicking on the link down below you’ll acces the original article, written in spanish, as it was published in the print journal. Moreover, we invite you to suscribe you to the journal. ¡Esperamos vuestros comentarios!
Post translated by Carolina Serna