March 27, 2023
5 min read
Our attention spans are tiny.
We've been trained to scroll after 10 seconds.
If your partner learning strategy isn't trying to conform to this level of attention, you're in big trouble.
Because of this, micro-learning can be a great fit to complement an overall learning strategy.
Micro-learning can be most powerful as a stand-alone, but should still follow the principles of any quality training development.
If an organization has a significant catalog of learning content, that content may not translate well to micro-learning.
Rather than trying to break up traditional training content into mini-lessons, outline what the learner should gain from completing the micro-learning, then see if there is existing appropriate content that would fit.
There may not be. Be intentional.
The quality and measure of any learning start with the objectives; micro-learning is no different. The objectives need to be appropriate within the realistic micro-learning timeframe of about 7 minutes.
This sounds easy, but it often isn’t.
Anyone that has worked with stakeholders to determine learning objectives knows that nailing down exactly what the learner should walk away with may stir a lot of opinions.
Which is good, because it should.
It’s probably the most important conversation for any organization that is really serious about supporting its workforce through learning.
A micro-learning session should not have more than one objective. That objective should clearly and realistically describe what the learner will be able to do after completing the learning.
The media, modality, and interactivity should directly tie to the objective. There should be nothing else in there. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit.
Here is a poor example of a learning objective for micro-learning (or any learning for that matter):
There are two issues with this objective, the first is the word review.
Review does not imply any sort of expectation for the learner. It is passive.
There is no action that describes how the information will be used or what the learner will be able to do with said information. Also, the word review removes any responsibility for the instructional designer to build interaction that supports review.
A list of new features and their benefits would suffice for this objective, and that would result in a micro-learning session of poor quality.
Here is a different take on the same objective:
The word identify puts a level of responsibility on the learner and sets an expectation that is not only actionable but can be inspected. When a learner completes a micro-learning session based on this objective, a leader or mentor can easily ask about the top 3 features and the respective benefits. A “review” puts no responsibility on the learner.
This also gives the instructional designer a clear target to craft the learning journey. Obviously, there needs to be informed about the top three features, it must include benefits, and the learners must be able to make the connection between each.
So maybe there can be a point of interaction where learners can pick out the top three features out of a longer list and then a second interaction where they connect those features to their respective benefits, as an example.
Most learning fails because of poorly written objectives, and micro-learning is no exception.
Clear objectives for partner learning should include the following:
Micro-learning is a short burst of learning that is supposed to be useful to a workforce.
The best way to ensure the information is useful to learners is to time the micro-learning delivery to a relevant moment.
For example, if there is a micro-learning about a new product for sellers to position, the learning should coincide with that product release or a new spiff associated with that product.
If a micro-learning is related to a partner, the micro-learning can be delivered just in time for the seller to talk about the partner In an upcoming customer meeting.
It keeps the micro-learning from feeling random, and employees will take the learning more seriously. The closer the learning can be to when the information is needed, ie the more just-in-time the learning is, the more effective it will be.
The benefit of micro-learning platforms is that the learning can support text, video, pics, audio, games, quizzes, and other modalities that can appeal to various learning preferences.
Don’t make the micro-learning session all text. If it’s just text information, then send an email with a read receipt and be done.
Many micro-learning platforms can be used much like social platforms and incorporated into a company’s larger dialog - especially with integrations like Slack. When employee share ideas about their learning, it deepens the connections between learning and real-life use.
If a learning topic is impactful to employees, they will want to talk about it - which is a common learning preference that is not addressed with a simple text or video.
One of the benefits of micro-learning is that it's short enough to complete without interruption. But, there is a point where micro-learning becomes the interruption. Micro-learning typically is NOT scheduled. It's picked up during moments of downtime.
Cadence is important.
If too frequent, then the micro-learning deadlines accumulate, and the urgency to complete increases; it is now the interruptor to the actual work. It’s become one of the myriad interruptions that happens every 11 minutes. Interrupters tend to be tactical, tasky, and forgotten the second they are completed. This is exactly what micro-learning shouldn’t be. Learning needs to be memorable. It should just blend in with all the other noise that takes employees away from their actual work.
If micro-learning is too infrequent, it won’t be thought of as incorporated into the cultural operating norm of the company, like email or conference calls. It will instead feel like a novelty and will eventually be abandoned.
Make it easy for employees to find just the right content. This goes for all content, but especially micro-learning content because Micro-learning content libraries can grow quickly, and several sessions may cover one overall theme or complex topic.
Titles and keyword searches are not enough. When employees search for learning content, they may be searching for something that stuck with them that may not be related to a keyword - like a quiz question or a talk track in a video.
Many platforms are incorporating sophisticated search criteria to make it easy for participants to quickly find what they need by including things like machine learning to identify objects in images and video and include those items as search criteria. Platforms are also scraping video transcripts, answers to quizzes, and much more.
Even more than making it easy to find, make sure to provide value to the learner, deliver the content to sellers when they need it, and use software like Fluincy, which sends sellers partner information as it pertains to current sales opportunities.