4 Steps For Implementing Microlearning For Safety Training In Manufacturing Companies
Unfortunately, traditional safety training usually does not consider the characteristics of adult education. It is not flexible enough in terms of when and where to learn, and does not take the adults’ prior learning experiences into account (Albert & Hallowel, 2013, p. 129). Microlearning can be a way to address adult learners in more adequate ways. It has 2 major advantages (Baumgartner, 2014, p. 20):
Employees can decide on their own where, how, and in which order to learn.
- Easy access.
Employees only need limited time resources for microlearning and can “squeeze it in” between longer work processes, before or after breaks.
These advantages strongly rely on the right way of implementation. Crucial aspects of implementation are a sound didactical basis, considering characteristics and special requirements of safety training. Additionally, a practical way of how to integrate microlearning to the employees’ working routines as well as assessment and (self)-monitoring functions need to be set up.
1. Didactical Basics For Microlearning
Before thinking about microlearning content and activities it is important to define intended learning outcomes and microlearning units. Bloom’s revised taxonomy of cognitive processes (cf. Krathwohl, 2002, p. 215) helps to identify which cognitive processes are needed to ensure safety at the workplace. Cognitive processes like remembering, understanding, and applying of facts, concepts, and procedures in safety training could be easily trained through microlearning. Training higher order thinking skills like analyzing, evaluating, and creating through microlearning requires a participative and collaborative microlearning system and a more personal learning environment, fostering reflection.
Therefore, it needs to be checked up front which cognitive processes should be addressed by your safety training measures and especially by your microlearning initiative. Learning outcomes indicate cognitive processes by the chosen verbs in each sentence. They make the learning process more transparent for learners and assessors likewise. It is important to identify the learning outcomes in a collaborative write-up process together with all relevant stakeholders: The heads of different production departments, responsible persons for safety training in the company. and/or staff from human resources. The learning outcomes need to reflect all their perspectives on safety training.
All in all, it is important to answer the following questions before creating learning content and choosing learning activities related to it:
- Which are the intended learning outcomes of the microlearning system for safety training?
- How do the learning outcomes of the microlearning system relate to the overall learning outcomes of the company’s safety training?
- Which microlearning units can be defined based upon the intended learning outcomes?
2. Considering Safety Training Characteristics In Microlearning
As soon as microlearning units and intended learning outcomes are defined, the next question arises: Which learning activities should be chosen based on the intended learning outcomes and the characteristics of safety training?
Based on the cognitive learning process indicated in the learning outcome, suitable learning activities need to be chosen and implemented in the microlearning environment (Krathwohl, 2002, p. 215).
In-company safety training benefits from the following aspects:
- Close to reality.
Involve activities related to the current working environment
- Past cases.
Include past injuries and accidents that happened in the company into learning activities (cf. Bhandari & Hallowell, 2017, p. 5)
Both aspects can be easily included in a microlearning environment through storytelling. Pictures and videos of the current working environment or past incidents support storytelling in microlearning (Hug, 2005, p. 8). Also, the effectiveness of safety is directly related to the proximity of the work environment as well as the workers’ possible identification with real cases of injuries and illnesses.
3. Including Microlearning Into Employees’ Working Routines
Especially employees in manufacturing companies can benefit from “learning stations”, as often mobile devices are not allowed in the manufacturing area. Learning stations are stationary computers with touch-screens for easy and fast use. Employees log in by using their ID Chip, which they also use to access different areas of the company’s premises. Between production processes, before or after breaks, employees could use the learning stations, placed in break-rooms or other suitable areas, e.g. next to water dispensers.
Enhancing The Attractiveness Of “Learning Stations”
Employees log into the Learning Management System and, based on their role in the system, they will see microlearning units that are mandatory and others which are free to choose. Next to the variety of microlearning units some general information about the company can be provided, e.g. an “injury-ticker” indicating how many days without accidents have passed, information about new employees, lunch menus, and so on.
Therefore, the Learning Management System is not only a way to deliver microlearning, but can also act as a central platform for important company information. This way, it is able to stimulate internal communication within the company. This makes it more attractive for employees to use the learning stations at work. Furthermore, also aspects of gamification, like collecting badges for successfully completed microlearning units or passed exams, can help to raise attractiveness of using the microlearning system and the learning stations.
4. Transparent Assessment And (Self-)Monitoring
During microlearning sessions, formative feedback can be automatically given. It is based on right or wrong answers to questions and interactions in the microlearning environment, and can include hints about which units need to be repeated or why a certain answer was right or wrong. To support autonomous learning, it should be possible for the individual learner to review their performance statistics.
Learning analytics can help to get a better insight into the personal learning process. Summative exams can help to assess achieved learning outcomes after a learning period. The employees can choose how often they would like to repeat the provided microlearning units before taking the summative exam. The assessment methods should be closely connected to the intended learning outcomes and the addressed cognitive processes (Cedefop, 2017, p. 53f.). The results of the final exams should be available to the employees and their supervisors, who are responsible for safety training. The results can help to identify further training needs. More detailed learning analytics could give further insights into how to improve the microlearning system for safety training in your company.
Safety training in manufacturing companies can significantly benefit from microlearning, as more flexible learning pathways are possible through it, addressing adult learning needs and time resources. Its positive impact on the employees’ learning success heavily relies on its implementation. Creating a didactical basis for microlearning, considering safety training characteristics when choosing learning activities, including microlearning into the employees’ work routine, and providing transparent assessment and (self-)monitoring methods can help to successfully implement microlearning for safety training in your company.
- Albert, A., & Hallowel, M. R. (2013). Revamping occupational safety and health training: Integrating andragogical principles for the adult learner. Construction Economics and Building, 13(3), 128–140.
- Baumgartner, P. (2014). Lernen in Häppchen. Microlearning als Instrument der Personalentwicklung. Personal Manager – Zeitschrift Für Human Resources, (1), 20–22.
- Bhandari, S., & Hallowell, M. (2017). Emotional Engagement in Safety Training: Impact of Naturalistic Injury Simulations on the Emotional State of Construction Workers. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 143.
- Cedefop. (2017). Defining, writing and applying learning outcomes. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
- Hug, T. (2005). Micro Learning and Narration. Exploring Possibilities of Utilization of Narrations and Storytelling for the Designing of “Micro Units” and Didactical Micro-Learning Arrangements. Presented at the Media in Transition Conference, MIT, Cambridge (MA), USA.
- Krathwohl, D. (2002). A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview. Theory Into Practice, 41(4), 212–218.