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Microlearning is here to stay

Gone are the days of uninspired and unvaried five-day training seminars led by instructors silhouetted against the bright backdrops of their PowerPoint presentations. Learning today is fast, to the point and designed to be consumed anywhere and anytime. The traditional format of training—sitting in front of an “expert” droning on, trying to not fall asleep—is long out of fashion. Learning professionals demand that their training needs be met in a more flexible and personalised manner. They want to be challenged; they want learning to keep pace with them, not the other way around. And rightly so, because it’s time that learning be adapted to the changing workplaces.

Lifestyles have changed dramatically over the past decade. It’s the age of streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime and online food delivery companies like Zomato and Swiggy: people want to watch TV at their own pace and not be tethered to the constraints of time, work schedules or advertisements, they want to be able to order food whenever they want and not be bothered by the time of day, minimum order stipulation or where they are—whether it be in their bedroom or on the move abroad an Indian Railways train. It’s not surprising, then, that people want the same from educational content.

Organisations need to wake up to the changing needs of their employees and find ways to revitalise their education agendas. A good way of doing this in today’s distracted, digital world is through bite-sized learning. Microcontent allows corporates to deliver digestible chunks of information and knowledge to learners in a focused, direct manner in multiple sessions, as opposed to a single non-stop lecture, and allows learners to explore the learning content in non- linear ways. To make learning effective, people need to be able to choose the topics they wish to learn or revise and, in doing so, create courses for themselves best suited to their learning needs. Bite-sized learning modules allows learners to pick and choose the content and peruse it at their pace and in the sequence relevant to their immediate needs. Spaced out over multiple sessions, bite-sized learning ensures that knowledge is embedded over time and more deeply through repetition and revision.

The rise of bite-sized content is in line with the rapid proliferation of mobile devices and the constant pressure to develop learning materials at low budgets and be able to update them as often and as quickly as required. The design of the learning content therefore needs to be mobile-friendly and its structure compact and clear, such that it can be updated as required, without compromising on the learning objectives. Bite-sized learning also needs to be captivating. It’s common knowledge that attention spans are diminishing: according to Nielsen Norman Group, casual Internet users spend no more than 20 seconds on a Web page before deciding to peruse it in its entirety or leave it in search of better resources. And so to be able to grab the attention of learners, bite-sized learning needs to be captivating from the get-go; it needs to be gamified and reward the achievements of the learners. Above all, microlearning needs to grow with the changing needs of learners.

Bite-sized learning, done the right way, can foster a learning culture where skill and knowledge areas are constantly refreshed and learning is delivered and consumed in more ways than one. Microlearning is here to stay, so why not make the most of its myriad possibilities?