adult learning vector

What Is Microlearning And Why It Works Well For Adult Learners

From being dismissed as just a new buzzword in the world of learning and development to finally receiving recognition as an effective learning strategy, microlearning has come a long way.

In simple terms, microlearning is a technique that imparts knowledge in little nuggets of information. These small content chunks, which can be in the form of text, video, audio, images, quizzes, and games, hold only the key elements you need to learn to achieve a specific objective. For instance, if your sales training programme eats up an hour of the team’s production time, you could, instead, transform the training into 5-minute videos and deliver them to your employees over a period of one week, thus saving a colossal amount of time.

Traditional pedagogical methods are not as effective for adults because we have a different learning style compared to youngsters. Malcolm Knowles, an American educator who popularised the concept of andragogy (meaning adult learning) found that adults are intrinsically motivated, they draw upon prior life experiences, they are keen on learning once they understand the advantages of the course, and they prefer applying their newfound knowledge in the practical world. This is why microlearning is ideal for adults – making short, engaging content accessible on smartphones, tablets, and computers lets adults learn at their own pace, giving them a sense of control and autonomy. No wonder courses that employ microlearning have witnessed a jump in completion rates from 15% to 90% and beyond!

Let’s take a look at other reasons why microlearning is gradually becoming the go-to learning approach in several organisations.

Better Information Retention

Adults are bombarded with information day in and day out, and the constant dings from the email and social media apps on our multiple devices mean that we are always in a state of distraction. To add to the mix, the human brain is wired to hold only up to seven or fewer new pieces of information in its short term memory. And if you try to cram it with more data, chances are that instead of going to your long-term memory for more permanent storage, the knowledge will disappear forever. However, with microlearning, the bite-sized chunks do not flood your brain with a deluge of data, making it easier for you to comprehend as well as retain new information.

Greater Flexibility

Rapid technological advancements have made it crucial for us to acquire new skills at the workplace to stay relevant and up-to-date. But although the fear of needing to evolve or become obsolete is real, our hectic work and personal lives leave us with little to no time and energy. While traditional learning requires you to sit in a conference room for several hours on already-demanding work days, microlearning gives you the freedom to learn anytime, anywhere. Each succinct microlearning module can be transformed into brief but interactive content pieces that can be consumed during our otherwise idle time, such as between meetings or while commuting.

Just-in-Time Support

Microlearning supports and empowers Just-in-Time (JIT) learning, a method that delivers personalised, on-demand training whenever required. Let’s say your team is about to make a crucial pitch for the company and they need to quickly go through the finer points of the presentation. Instead of letting your team hastily go through a lengthy document, you could send them effective, bite-sized content in the form of a short video to help reinforce their knowledge. 

So, the microlearning model definitely has an edge over conventional methods of instruction and has the potential to disrupt the workplace as we know it. It’ll be interesting to see how organisations employ and apply this approach as they move hiring, onboarding and training practices to a completely virtual set up to ensure business continuity during Covid-19 times.


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