Microlearning In Online Training: 5 Advantages And 3 Disadvantages

Microlearning In Online Training: 5 Advantages And 3 Disadvantages
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Summary: There are times when "bite-sized" is better, and corporate learners only need small amounts of information to tackle everyday challenges. In this article, I'll explore the 5 advantages and 3 disadvantages of microlearning in online training, which breaks knowledge down into easily digestible units or modules.

The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Microlearning In Online Training

Microlearning may be the perfect addition to your online training program, as it offers you the ability to provide supplemental online activities and resources to your corporate learners. In a nutshell, microlearning provides employees with small amounts of information that centers on a specific task or concept. For example, it may come in the form of a 3-minute tutorial that walks them through a repair process, or a brief interactive presentation that covers a specific compliance procedure. Before you integrate microlearning into your online training strategy, however, it's wise to explore the advantages and disadvantages that are par for the online training course.

Advantages Of Microlearning

  1. Improves knowledge retention.
    Rather than bombarding the brain with an abundance of data, microlearning gives you the opportunity to provide small segments of information so that the mind can process it more effectively. Thus, corporate learners are able to absorb and retain the information before they have to move onto the next online activity or module. They can also choose when and where they participate in the online training experience, which allows them to pick a time and place that are conducive to the online training process. For example, instead of having to sit in a noisy office that has a variety of distractions, they can wait until they are in a quiet room of their home where they can simply focus on the online training activity.
  2. Perfect for mobile learning.
    Microlearning is ideally suited for mobile learning, as corporate learners have the ability to participate in brief modules or units whenever they have some spare time. Whether they are sitting in traffic or in a doctor's waiting room, they have the opportunity to build their skills and broaden their knowledge base. This is in stark contrast to a formal online training course, where they would have to devote a block of time to the online training process in order to grasp its benefits.
  3. Rapidly fills performance gaps.
    This eLearning approach focuses on one key task, skill, or concept at a time. This allows corporate learners to fill their performance gaps more rapidly, given that they are able to target specific areas of improvement without having to sit through a lengthy online training session. For example, if they need to know how to repair a piece of machinery they can participate in a quick tutorial to brush up on their professional knowledge and be reminded of the steps involved.
  4. More cost efficient. 
    One of the most significant benefits of microlearning is that it makes less of an impact on your online training budget. You can create a high quality eLearning scenario, online presentation, or tutorial for a fraction of the cost of developing a full-fledged online training course. It's more condensed and concise, which means that it will also not require as much design or development time, which is another major plus.
  5. Boosts corporate learner motivation.
    Microlearning fulfills our human need for instant gratification. Though it's important to have long-term goals that require dedication and a significant time commitment, short-term goals are also a crucial part of the online training process. If your employees are able to complete a short online training module and get the skills or information they need, this increases their motivation and prompts them to seek out other microlearning activities. They are also able to move at their own pace, which means that they don’t have to worry about keeping up with their peers or falling behind.

Disadvantages Of Microlearning

  1. Not suitable for complex tasks or skills.
    Brief modules and online training activities are not typically the best choice for more complicated tasks, skills, or processes. Keep in mind that online microlearning experiences are "micro" because they allow for rapid online training. Thus, they are not ideally suited for more involved subject matter that contains many sub-topics, ideas, or concepts that are all related. You can, however, support your full-length online training courses by pairing them with supplemental microlearning activities. For example, an employee can watch an eLearning video or online presentation that explores another facet of the topic.
  2. Can easily become fragmented.
    It's important to bear in mind that microlearning online training experiences should be complete and comprehensive. They should not simply cover one aspect of the idea or concept, as this can make them seem fragmented and disjointed. Ideally, you must ensure that every module or activity within your online training course is connected in some way, but still provides your employees with the information they need to know. For example, you should NOT create microlearning modules that consist of several parts or "chapters", and then end with a cliffhanger or a prompt that asks your corporate learners to click through to complete the online training course. Each piece of microlearning content must be its own separate online training unit.
  3. May not help with long-term performance goals.
    Microlearning can be part of a larger online training strategy, but it should not be your primary online training method. This is due to the fact that it does not typically allow for long-term goal achievement. It may help employees to collect all of the individual skills or pieces of information they need to eventually reach their objectives, like gathering the pieces of a puzzle, but a single online training module cannot achieve this independently of the others. For this very reason, it is more effective for "moment of need" online training and other more specific learning objectives, such as mastering a simple task or discovering key bits of information.

Microlearning may not be the ideal solution for all your learning needs. However, it can offer a wide range of benefits for organizations who want to narrow performance and skills gaps rapidly, without having to take a large chunk out of their Learning and Development budget.

Are you looking for ways to face your professional fears head on and design an engaging and entertaining online training course? Read the article The 5 Worst Fears Of Corporate eLearning Designers to develop the best possible corporate eLearning experiences for your employees.