MicroLearning Q&A

Ask 10 different people what microLearning is and you’ll probably get 12 different answers. So, I wanted to take a minute and address a few common questions folks might have about this new, blazing-hot, fresh and fabulous concept called microLearning. (Just kidding, it’s not a new concept at all. Read on!) 

What is microLearning?

Simply put, microLearning is learning content presented in smaller chunks.  Using proven learning or “brain science” techniques, it focuses on targeted tasks or limited bits of information, and always with a specific objective in mind. It can be delivered via various formats, and reinforced using any number of proven learning techniques. 

How long should it be?

There is no exact time limit for how long microLearning should be. Should it be quick? Yes. But it’s really more about content and technique than duration. It might take 2 minutes or it might take 20; it just depends on the content and end goal.

Why use it?

Adults are busy people. Have you ever taken a course and thought to yourself, “Get to the point already!!!”? Me too. MicroLearning delivers relevant information quickly and efficiently, and it eliminates the need to weed through tons of useless info to find what you’re looking for. When done right, it is an effective tool for delivering knowledge, adding skills and/or changing behaviors.

What does it look like?

You name it. Video, email, podcast, job aid, eLearning course… microLearning can be delivered any number of ways. You’ll choose whatever format will be most effective based on the audience and the content. Reinforcement can include questions, activities, follow-up emails, videos, or other tools. Even discussion boards or social media can be used to create a continuous learning experience.  

Should all training be done with microLearning?

Absolutely not. Listen, microLearning is not the answer to all of life’s training needs. Just like other training approaches, there are times when it will be appropriate, and other times it will not. It is but one tool in your toolbox.

Is microLearning a new concept?

Not at all. The idea that people are better able to absorb information when it’s presented in smaller bites has been around for some time. What has made the concept gain popularity is the day and age in which we live. Business is fast-paced, people are busy, and technology is king. MicroLearning meets the challenge by delivering information quickly and conveniently, and uses proven “brain science” practices to make it stick.

For more information and a really terrific breakdown of what microLearning is (and isn’t) and how it to use it, check out this ebook by Axonify: Everything You Need to Know About MicroLearning

Invested Development

Whatever your goals, there is one sure-fire way to get your team on board with making it happen: Invest in their development!

“But,” you say, “they might take what we teach them and leave!” Maybe. They are free to do as they please and may leave you regardless of what you do or how well you treat them, but it comes down to this: People are more likely to stay where they feel they are valued. Here are just a couple of ways you can do this:

Show the Way

You know the direction you want things to go, what kind of culture you’re trying to create, what you expect from your team. Show them. Don’t just tell them, lead by example. If you want your team leaders to be approachable, be approachable. If you want others to value your opinion, value theirs. If you want your employees or volunteers to be friendly, helpful, and upbeat – then be all those things! When your people finally figure out who you are and what you are about, they will respond in kind. If you are the type of leader who cares about your people, your people will care about you and will give you their best.

Share Your Vision

Share your vision. Let them know you are in this together. Maybe you’re thinking, “But it’s MY company, so why should they care what my vision is?” Simply put, if your people haven’t bought into your vision, they have no real reason to invest their time and energy into it. They will simply go through the motions and it will never be anything more than a job. On the other hand, if you share your vision with them, and let them develop ownership in the process, they will invest their time and energy with gusto! An ounce of enthusiasm goes a long way, so get excited about where you are headed!

Encourage & Facilitate Growth

Help others meet their potential. Your goal should be to develop other leaders, so don’t limit them! Show them you care about them personally, not just in words, but in actions. Provide opportunities for personal growth; training to develop new skills, or fine-tune existing skills; chances to use their new skills; and offer support by mentoring them personally or providing one to them.

Value the differences. Each individual is unique. Building an effective team means embracing varying perspectives, strengths, skills and approaches.

Let people do what they’re good at, to whatever extent is possible. If you have a secretary who is a graphics genius, find a new secretary. Then move this hidden gem somewhere they can put those talents to use. Otherwise, you will find they’ve moved on to another organization who realizes what they’ve got to offer.

In My Experience

From our stories, our experiences, comes everything that makes us us. It is easy to relate to ourselves. After all, we know us better than anyone, right? The more difficult task is relating to others on their level, based on their experience, with regard to their feelings, thoughts and goals. As a teacher, trainer, or even just a participant in this thing called “life” it is imperative that we understand that every individual has a unique story, much of which is unwritten. We will have the honor of contributing part of that story and can, if we so choose, write some really good stuff. Allow me to share some of the “stuff” that teachers have contributed to my story…
The best teacher I ever had was Stanley Henderson, my college algebra teacher at a local college. He started out the semester talking with us about math anxiety, how real it was, and how we could get past it. It was like he was reading my mind. I mean the struggle was real, folks. I would break out in hives anytime I saw a number in close proximity to a letter. Ok, maybe not literally, but close. I not only completed his course, but managed to pull out an “A”. Stunning really. 
My worst teacher was my high school calculus teacher. We’ll call her Ms. Sunshine. Yes, I made an attempt of calculus my senior year, which is likely responsible for my math allergies. I dared to ask Ms. Sunshine for help my first week of class. If I remember right, it was something to do with a co-sign or someone throwing a tangent. As I approached her desk a few minutes before class started and kneeled next to her majesty with my book opened to the page in question, I could detect the look of annoyance on her face but I dared to speak anyway. I told her I really didn’t understand the problem. She closed my book for me (isn’t that sweet?) and loudly informed me (and the rest of the class… and I think the next town over) that if I couldn’t understand something in the first week, then I would just be wasting her time and I needed to move on so she could get back to teaching. Now don’t get me wrong, she may have saved my life. I really can’t even explain why I was going to take her class. However, the experience left me a bit distrustful of teachers, and with an aversion to math.
Encouragement can go a very long way when dealing with just about anyone. By the same token a little discouragement can block the path of individual growth and put a proverbial wrench in the works of potential. You can see at a glance by the size of the two paragraphs above which made the bigger impact on my life. I firmly believe that correction should be tempered with a double-dose of encouragement. In other words, for every one thing you find wrong, point out two that you find right. 
Professor Henderson brought out the best in me. He offered encouragement and a solution. Ms. Sunshine, on the other hand, offered me my head on a platter with a side of humiliation. I chose at some point in my life to be an encourager of people; to try to bring out the best in them like Professor Henderson did for me. Perhaps these two experiences, and others like them, shaped the way I deal with others and gave me insight that can only be gained from personal experience. In that regard, none of it has been wasted and so I am thankful even for the Ms. Sunshine’s in my life.