How Will Microlearning Fit Into Your Overall L&D Strategy?
How to implement microlearning in your L&D strategy? First of all, make sure that you’ve taken a step back, and identified what learning content is essential to your business and what is supplementary. For example, are there regulatory compliance issues that employees must keep up to date with? How necessary is technical skill development to the long-term success of your company? Do you need to focus on teamwork or soft skills—or are those just “nice to have”? Are there particular roles that require ongoing learning?
Once you’ve gained a broad overview of your strategic L&D requirements, you need to figure out if microlearning is going to be a part of a broader learning program, or if it’s going to form the bulk of your learning content. Will you be using microlearning to fill gaps and support longer learning courses, or does it need to be a standalone solution? You should also ask yourself how you will evaluate your microlearning content, and how you’ll monitor results.
Step 1: Identify Your Organization’s Learning Needs
Building an effective microlearning program needs to start with careful planning, even before you start wondering how to implement microlearning. Start with a skills gap analysis to identify the skills the company requires and any areas where employees are currently struggling. Don’t forget to involve the learners themselves in this process; survey your employees and their managers to find out which kinds of learning they would find most valuable.
Then you’ll need to decide on the right mix of learning options, how much of the learning program can be covered by microlearning, and how much will be better delivered in other formats, such as in-person training or longer eLearning courses.
Your initial research should also have given you an idea of how much content you can create yourself, and how much you’re going to need to outsource to a learning provider. At this stage, you should take a full review of your options for learning vendors.
When considering vendors, you should get a picture of which kinds of content they can provide, the formats they offer, the level of customization available, and the quality of the learning system they provide. You’ll also need to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of each option, including how much support will be available.
This preparation stage is also the perfect opportunity to generate interest and motivation within the company. Communicate to the employees how the new learning content will help them with their work and improve their performance.
Step 2: Creating Microlearning Content
If you’ve decided to create your own microlearning content, there are some fundamental principles that you should bear in mind.
Firstly, simplicity is crucial. Avoid overloading the learner; each micro asset should focus on just one central idea. Make sure that you target content that is suited to microlearning—complex, substantive information is not the right fit for this learning approach.
Secondly, think visual. Strong microlearning content is somewhat similar to great social media content: on-demand, engaging, and media-rich. Images, graphs, and infographics are often helpful to visual learners. You should also make sure that you have strong, consistent style and content guides. As you’re working with smaller units of content, you need to ensure that the different authors and curators remain on-brand.
Thirdly, target your audience effectively. You might want to start by breaking down job descriptions and competency frameworks to identify the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that each role requires. That done, you can build content to benefit the roles that need the most support. Alternatively, you could think about your learners as target markets and use “buyer personas” to make sure that you’re meeting their needs.
Step 3: Organize Your Microlearning Content
As we’ve seen, microlearning can feel disconnected and random for learners if it’s not part of a clear organizing structure. Make sure that all content is presented within a clear context to make it attractive and relevant to the learner.
To be valuable, microlearning content needs to be very easy to find. Make sure you’re conscientious about tagging, categorizing and describing your own content thoroughly, to make it effortless for users to get hold of it when they need it. You may also need to tag purchased content with the most relevant keywords to help learners find it.
Step 4: Monitor, Review And Improve Over Time
As we saw in Chapter 2 of this eBook, microlearning content can lend itself very well to reporting. Take advantage of this to assess user uptake and engagement. Actively seek feedback from users on a regular basis. Make sure that you have a learning management platform that allows you to tag and categorize content, so you can spot trends across the more fragmented micro assets.
You’ll also need to define a process to manage reviews and updates. For example, microlearning content about a particular software platform will need to be updated in line with new software versions. As you’ll be working with more units of content, you’ll need a solid system in place to manage this process and make sure you don’t overlook any outdated information.
As your business changes and grows, your learning needs may also change. By regularly assessing the performance of your microlearning program and tracking engagement and effectiveness, you’ll be able to spot when you need to upgrade your learning resources more broadly.
Finally, make sure that you explicitly link the microlearning framework to competency frameworks. You need to build a relationship between learning content completion and improvements in professional capability. You might also want to incorporate learning goals and reviews into your employee’s regular review process or personal development plans. This will give some great insight into how to better implement microlearning.