A goldfish's attention span is nine seconds, whereas the average human attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds. With the rise of smartphones and technology, it came down to 8 seconds in 2013, which is even shorter than that of a goldfish, according to a 2015 study by Microsoft Corporation.
If organizations want to attract, develop, and retain talent in this generation, they will have to adapt to the changing training needs of this target demographic. The traditional learning methods are cognitively onerous and are no longer working efficiently. Moreover, long learning sessions give people too much information. There’s a limit to how much a human brain can process in one go.
What if there was a better way?
How about instead of overloading the learner, they were given little bits of information at a time?
This is an approach built on learning moments that are easily understandable, point-of-need, and participatory. And that’s microlearning in a nutshell.
Microlearning requires a shorter span of attention so there is less cognitive load on learners and information is easier to absorb, retain, and recall. Using this model, people learn in small steps that accumulate into more complex skills—just like how several small sentences compiled together form stories. With a small cognitive load, the learner’s brain is free to concentrate on the real work of practicing new skills—not cramming in a boring lecture.
Available on easily accessible devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptop computers in formats as varied as videos, blogs, games, quizzes, simulations, podcasts, or slideshows, microlearning adapts to dwindling attention spans, just at the time when technology is changing so rapidly that traditional training methods can’t keep up.
Let's take a look at some of the reasons that microlearning is such a powerful addition to any eLearning course design:
Just in time
The information a learner needs is only a click away now and they can access it whenever and wherever they want to perform the task at hand. The microlearning approach facilitates just-in-time learning. For this purpose, the content is chunked into smaller learning pieces for easy access on any device when and where they need it.
On the move
Perhaps taking advantage of moments that don’t normally seem like training opportunities, like waiting for the bus or on a lunch break, short learning modules can be accessed very effectively on smartphones and tablets, and this makes microlearning the preferred choice of firms opting for mobile learning solutions.
The design formats of microlearning include rich media formats such as 60 or 90 second videos that lead to better retention of knowledge. Video is a preferred medium for microlearning, as it is short, visually appealing, and easily accessible to learners who are now both always on the move and accustomed to using platforms like YouTube and Vimeo.
Learning is most effective when it targets only one thing at a time. Microlearning does that by focusing on creating learning only a single task for one session.
Complementing existing programs
It can do that as a follow-up to a traditional classroom learning experience. Instead of searching for the paper participant guide, an employee can search for the microlearning session. It can provide a solution in a moment of need.
Microlearning is undoubtedly the wave of the future. It meets the needs of today’s digital lifestyle because its components are designed to be focused and flexible. It gives learners information on their terms and allows them to learn at their own pace. And more learning takes place when learners are accessing training on their own terms.
Long story short—if you want your learning sessions to be successful, keep them brief. Give the microlearning approach a try.