Language learning insights for companies

Microlearning: What it is and why you should care

Do you remember the brick and mortar classroom you spent hours in during school? Or perhaps the buttoned-up corporate trainer in that sterile conference room at work? Microlearning was not the way to go back then.

These learning environments have been replaced by the digital space and are now filled with AI-driven learning platforms and virtual classroom environments. Learning is ubiquitous.

It probably doesn’t register to most of us that learning is just a click away. When we don’t know something, lack a piece of information, or are simply curious, we often head to Google:

Microlearning

 

We tend to search this kind of clear, short and straightforward information every day. We want an answer that is precise and relevant, and we want it now. This style of learning has become such an intrinsic part of the way we work that we hardly notice it’s a form of learning at all. In a culture driven by immediacy and the demand for fast, relevant and engaging information, the digitalization of the learning world makes perfect sense. Yet the reason why this form of knowledge acquisition is so appealing has its roots in the physical construct of our brains and processing.

Learning something quickly, in small, bite-sized pieces, is both a key piece of the future of learning and an inherited behavior. Traditional instruction was done on a macro scale. School and university are examples of this: long hours of dedicated study on a near-daily basis. Macro learning is effective if you have the time, but once we enter the job market the vast majority of us no longer have the ability to dedicate consistent multi-hour blocks of time to study.

Enter microlearning:

This is the notion that learning revolves around short, digestible pieces of information to be learned and immediately applicable. A well-designed microlearning platform is easily searchable, contains a plethora of content formats and individuals can curate their own learning journey. Why has this type of learning exploded in recent years? Because it’s mobile-accessible, not time-intensive, and easily integrate into our schedules. This matches our on-demand digital culture.

But why do we like learning in this way? Well very simply, our brains are wired for it. The human attention span is short, and it’s been made even shorter by the ease of accessibility of information.  We are transferring less of our short-term memories to long-term because we know we can do a quick Google search if we forget.  For our brains to successfully convert short to long-term memory we need to be engaged, interested and repeat what we are trying to learn. Short and dynamic content that’s customized to specific needs and can be accessible everywhere keeps learners interested. This format encourages them to access and re-access information, enabling the brain to register this data as important and dedicate it to long-term memory, rather than clearing space for new information.  Machine learning and AI have helped enhance the quality of microlearning courses, generating exacting content and in-the-moment feedback, providing employees with targeted learning opportunities when they need it most.

Successful corporate training programs can and should promote microlearning, especially when it comes to language training programs. Language is best learned through practical application and microlearning is specifically geared to give learners the vital information they need at the moment, thus making learning cyclical – learn, apply, learn more, apply more. This means that, as corporate learning and development, human resources or talent professionals, you can focus on defining specific learning outcomes rather than generic, broad aims.

For those in the corporate learning space, we should be forward-thinking and help facilitate access to microlearning opportunities, presenting learners with easy to navigate options to find relevant material quickly so as to encourage learning. Remember, you don’t need fifteen options to learn how to climb a ladder – you just need one clear, precise example.

EF’s entire virtual school is full of micro-learning opportunities that employees can engage with anytime, anywhere. All lessons are in bite-size format and easy to digest to keep our learning motivated and speed up their progress.

Interested in learning more about how microlearning can make or break your corporate training program? Get in touch with us

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