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Overcoming the shortcomings of micro-learning

There is a lot of talk about how employees have to do more and more things in a limited time frame and how challenging it is to HR professionals to offer them the support they need, when they need it. Traditionally, training programs take time to be planned and carried out, the process being a very elaborate but not necessarily efficient one.

Micro-learning seems to be the appropriate solution to all of these problems.

Read more: 10 Advantages of microlearning in online training

Modules are generally concise and have a single learning objective. They are standalone, are very focused and to the point and usually don’t require that the learner access other resources. They are like the perfect pill for a particular ailment (in this case, information gap that needs to be filled in due time in order to avoid stress and headaches).

Bite-size learning units come in a great variety – they can be videos, presentations, short quizzes, podcasts or infographics just to name a few. They are also highly interactive as they seek to fully engage the learner and are designed to work a wide range of devices.

Overcoming the shortcomings of micro-learning

While nobody is arguing micro-learning’s ability to attract the modern learner and adapt to their ever-changing needs, implementing such a program in an organization does not always immediately end in success. With everything it has going for it, micro-learning also presents a series of challenges that can lead to faulty implementation and overall poor results.

Usually the vendors make it all sound so wonderful and the pressure from the market is so great that decision makers in the organizations jump at the opportunity, buy platforms and programs and then leave it up to L&D specialists to make sure that they are used to their full potential, show a positive impact on business results and demonstrate an impressively positive ROI.

While this can certainly be achieved if it is done properly, it’s not really the norm. Some of the most common causes for a not so great deployment of a new micro-learning program are: hasty planning, failure to meet expectations and inability to sustain the long-term goals of the individuals and the organization. let’s explore how L&D professionals can overcome these challenges.

Hasty planning

Just because micro-learning is aimed at offering ‘just in time support’ does not mean that it has to be brought into the organization this way. It’s important for L&D specialists to know what the actual learning gaps are, what are the user preferences when it comes to content and devices and what options there are on the market.

If a platform is purchased and made part of the organization’s learning strategy just because that is what other companies are doing and it was a target set in a board meeting some time before, it has little odds of being the right one and proving any kind of positive results.

Micro learning is mainly aimed at rapid online learning, tailored for today’s hectic schedules. It’s not, however, the best choice when it comes to complex tasks or skills that usually take a lot of time and effort to master. This is why making micro-learning the whole corporate learning strategy instead of just a part of it can turn out to be particularly detrimental to the organization.

To avoid the mishaps of hasty (and faulty) planning, HR specialists should thoroughly do their homework before purchasing any platform and decide on the deployment strategy.

Failure to meet expectations

There are, of course, two sides to this. First there are the needs and expectations of the organization that is looking to expand and prosper due to effective and engaging L&D programs and then there are the individual expectations of every employee who enrolls in the micro-learning modules.

In order to avoid falling short of organizational expectations, it should be really clear right from the beginning what the goals are and what will be the specific measurements against which the micro-learning program will be evaluated. Knowing what the expected results are and how they will be weighed is a good way to prepare for a positive outcome.

As for meeting individual needs, it’s paramount that learning designers know their audience very well before either making from scratch or buying e-learning modules. Having well-built personas and beta-testing groups are also great methods for verifying if a certain piece of content is relevant and will be well received. Even if there is not as much time as it was once for conducting thorough learning needs assessment, the choices should be made on a little more than educated guesses.

Read more: The need for a Training Needs Analysis

Minding the long-term goals

Micro-learning is advertised as the wondrous‚ on the spot solution for any learning gap that might hinder the employees’ ability to perform a certain task or finish one single step of a more complex project. But a standalone micro-learning experience isn’t the appropriate learning solution for a more complex topic with a variety of steps, skills, and tasks involved.

Long term development goals are normally more intricate so when learners seek to reach their full potential, they need more than these fun informative bits on their devices. Micro-learning should be incorporated in a much larger organizational learning strategy where all the simple tasks and individual skills can be added together and make up for a coherent upgrade at a macro level.

For efficient long-term retention and reinforcement, it’s advisable to combine micro learning with spaced repetition and distributed practice. Instead as acting as quick fixes, micro-learning units need to be linked together and supported by other types of learning interventions in order to act as an extensive treatment that will render the patient not only healthier but also stronger and more energetic than ever before.

Read more: The role of an LMS in applying spaced repetition

Over to you

Have you tried implementing micro-learning in your organization’s training strategy? How did that work? What other of its shortcomings did you encounter and how did you overcome them? Do share your experiences in the comments section below!

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