Mar 5, 2018

7 Reasons to Use Microlearning in Higher Education

by Digital Marketing Institute

In the corporate world, flexibility and efficacy is a priority for businesses that need their workforce to upskill while maintaining their day-to-day work performance. Enter microlearning: a fresh and innovative way to provide employees with an effective yet simple way to learn the skills they need to succeed in the digital world.

As microlearning begins to prove successful among employers, the educational sector is now recognizing that the way people learn is changing, while the platforms they learn on are also evolving. Focused on specific learning outcomes, microlearning is a means of teaching and delivering content to learners in small, succinct bursts. It offers a way for learners to be in control of what and when they learn.

For educators looking to offer working professionals with valuable skill-honing opportunities, microlearning offers a way to stand out from the crowd. In this article, we look at 7 reasons microlearning can successfully upskill graduates and professionals.

1) Aids retention

According to the Journal of Educational Computing Research, short content drives over 20% more in terms of information retention. The reason behind this is that longer-form content provides people with a lot of information, resulting in very little interaction between the information and learner.

Long content overloads working memory and can lead to insecurity in the learning environment. In addition, it leads to learners being overwhelmed with information leaving them unable to do the active work it takes to make the information their own.

According to Hermann Ebbinghaus, 70% of any new information is lost within 24 hours if there's no effort made to retain it. By engaging with a short snippet of content, a learner is far more likely to absorb key points and hold as a result, retaining the information and using it to their advantage in a role.

2) Requires less commitment

Requires less commitment

By its very nature, microlearning condenses information and removes all extraneous learnings. In doing so, it reduces the time commitment required of students, making it far more accessible for the modern, time-strapped learner than other methods.

Beyond that, because microlearning lessons are so short and compact (between 6-9 minutes in total), they are the perfect length for modern attention spans. The type of content also helps learning as visual formats such as video and infographics can help boost engagement. In fact, visual stimulants are twice as engaging as traditional learning and more efficient when it comes to transferring knowledge.

Visual learning is at an all-time high with a recent study suggesting that 65% of the population are visual learners. Microlearning taps into that mindset, using condensed visual information to deliver results.

3) Increases Efficacy

Microlearning is geared towards producing a specific result or outcome rather than presenting endless streams of general information. For instance, look at computer literacy. Traditional learning would involve classes run at designated times, teaching students how computers work as well as their overall functions in a long-winded, theoretical sense.

In contrast, microlearning breaks up each computer program into different lessons so that students would only learn the programs they need to know, allowing them to do so at their own pace. So, rather than having to spend months learning about Photoshop, Excel, Word, and Adobe, an employee could just take a course on Excel and master the basics of the program in a fraction of the time.

Not only does this approach ensure that the learner can fully extract the information they need from a particular field of expertise, but it also helps to ensure the skills they’ve acquired can be applied in a practical sense.

4) Focuses on Relevance

Focuses on what is relevant

Expanding on the last point, as microlearning is task-oriented, it cuts out all extraneous information; trimming the fat in essence. Instead of providing irrelevant course materials, microlearning strives to provide students with the exact information they to get a job done to the very best of their abilities.

For instance, if a student is working for a company that is looking to invest more in digital marketing, an online course that offers bite-sized modules on relevant topics such as SEO or analytics can help upskill them on the job as and when needed.

In this case, microlearning will help to teach niche skills that can feed into marketing efforts and explain what’s needed to master SEO, resulting in increased traffic and conversions. Also, it will show you everything you need to know to become an expert in local SEO, without having to learn other marketing information or skills that aren't related to the task.

5) Enables personalization

Often in higher education, or even with traditional skills training, all students enrolled in a program will be taught and tested on the same information, regardless of background or experience.

With this style of learning, some students could end up wasting weeks or months, learning things they already know, as the curriculum is rigid and cannot be personalized. The benefit of microlearning is that it's possible to customize a course to the needs and skill levels of each individual student.

This level of personalization means that a student can focus on mastering the skills that in the area of expertise that will prove most beneficial to them and their role. It can also mean that the technologies they are using (e.g. mobile) can facilitate learning on a more personal level.

6) Offers cost-effective alternatives

Offers cost-effective alternatives

One of the best things about microlearning is that it can be made available to anyone compared to traditional programs that can prove cost-prohibitive to many people and businesses, making them less valuable, less economical and more time-consuming.

Considering that the average student graduates with over $30,000 in debt, learning can be an expensive business. With both cost and time a priority for the majority of working professionals, alternative learning options are gaining significant ground and fast emerging as a preferable way to upskill.

Microlearning is a priceless training option that provides employees with the skills they need to get a job done well without having to spend exorbitant amounts. It can also democratize skills training and knowledge and make it more accessible to everyone, resulting in a more thriving economy and a more knowledgeable society.

7) Prevents burnout

The implications of microlearning will go well beyond skills training in the workplace because there are many aspects that could be incorporated into traditional learning settings to the benefit of both students and educators.

For instance, microlearning’s emphasis on targeted, personalized, and relevant information is ideal for modern students because it could free up more time to focus on the application of skills and knowledge.

Similarly, if educational institutions put more time into creating microlearning resources, educators would have more time to dedicate to one-on-one time with individual students, nurturing their development further as a result.

In addition, by offering microlearning options, colleges and universities would be able to appeal to a wider demographic of students, especially if they offer short-term certification programs in conjunction with their traditional multi-year degree programs.

Microlearning is an ideal training solution for modern professionals as it promises the most reward in return for the least number of resources. Moreover, because the lessons are so short and focused, it can be personalized and tailored along with being more affordable than traditional learning.

We no longer live in a world where we're bound by rigid working conditions limited by physical or geographical location. In today's world, we have flexibility, autonomy and a means to log on and acquire new skills, anytime, anywhere. Microlearning suits the needs of today's employees - future and current - perfectly.

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