I remember my first mobile phone: brick-sized, big antenna and weighing around 400 grams. Then I got my first clasp phone and it seemed tiny and awesome. My current phone is slim, light and wonderful. My first computer was a Pentium 3 and took almost all the dorm table. You can already see where this is going – laptop, thinner laptop, tablet. Truth be told, if we aren’t talking about living space or virgin forests, smaller means progress. It is also the case with how we learn.
Micro learning is already established as the wonder child of the online education industry. A normal response to the spectacular growth of mobile learning and an antidote to lack of time and resources in the workplace, bite-sized learning can prove the perfect solution for employees. In our fast-paced, technology driven lives, we are permanently flooded with information and communication.
We are busy, we are distracted (even if it often is by cute kittens fighting over fluffy yarn on Facebook) and our attention span is heavily impaired. Yet we are expected to know more and learn faster in order to keep up with everything changing and evolving at work.
Most often, traditional corporate training proves both overwhelming and ineffective. Tons of information and many hours out of the working day doesn’t make good business sense. Employees are not going to effectively engage with and retain the information when it is presented in a long-winded manner. Furthermore, by employing this old-fashioned approach, businesses lose precious working hours in the process.
Bite-sized learning – the up-to-date solution
Unlike the classic approach, micro learning is tailored to meet the needs of today’s learner. It enables people to engage with nuggets of information on a computer, mobile phone or tablet, anytime and anywhere. This information can be accessed while on the move, during the morning commute, on the lunch break or simply when that particular topic becomes useful in the work process.
The learning modules are focused on one concept only, allowing people to sample, process and retain the information. The content is designed in such a way as not to overtake employee schedules while meeting their most urgent knowledge needs. No more disrupting agendas with boring interminable lectures and dusty, irrelevant information.
These nugget-sized learning bubbles are connected to each other to achieve the required outcome of the program and are scheduled at regular times. These intervals provide the necessary space for learners to absorb the information and allow the brain to be open and ready for the next information installment when it’s due.
Micro learning – the response to ongoing technological developments
The factors that have led to the rise and popularity of bite-sized learning are diverse yet tightly connected with each other. The key contributors have been the demand for mobile learning, the abundance of Millennials in the workforce and the constant pressure companies faced to come up with courses rapidly and at a low cost.
According to global researcher Ambient Insight, the mobile learning market is predicted to reach $12.2bn in 2017, which is a staggering annual growth rate of 18.2% for the period 2012 to 2017.
With this prevalence of mobile, many companies have started to implement device-based learning, following the lead from their employees who want to be able to access information on their phones, on the go.
Millennials, the ones mostly responsible for the growing need of a mobile learning market, are expected to constitute half of the global workforce by 2020, according to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report. This generation makes up for our technology natives, comfortable with any device, application or digital innovation and very much at home in the world of social media and instant messaging.
This facile access to information drives a somewhat shortened attention span and with it the need for content to be exciting, dynamic and utterly relevant. Bite-sized learning is therefore perfectly suited for young working adults and the ideal way to communicate and effectively educate employees.
Training is compulsory in any business but market pressure means that it is often impossible to take time out of the busy work day to focus on training and there aren’t rich budgets to develop content and sustain its delivery. With data costs rather low and Wi-Fi readily accessible everywhere, bite-size learning gives learners the opportunity to download the information to be consumed later or access it whenever and pretty much wherever they are.
The big benefits of going micro
The greatest advantage of using bite-size learning is the improved learner engagement. Studies have shown that people often find it hard to focus on course material for longer than twenty minutes at one time. This can be easily overcome by dispatching nuggets of useful information to the learner.
Another benefit is that once consumed, this information will be more effectively processed and retained. In our technology-centered lives we have a limited capacity to process information. As such, bite-sized training programs are perfectly tailored to the way our brains are wired, allowing us to comprehend and be able to more successfully recall these morsels of information.
Just-in-time support is a crucial element of learning in the workplace. Rather than crowding something into our brains just in case it might prove useful in the future, short learning modules give us the opportunity to access them exactly when they are needed.
Providing real-time, relevant information, this type of training boosts employee efficiency, and as such improves company productivity.
Bite-size learning is becoming prevalent across the globe and all businesses should get on and ride the wave of this new approach that empowers employees and improves productivity.
Roxana is a learning and development professional with over 10 years experience in corporate training.