If you are familiar with the training industry, you have likely heard of microlearning. This concept of breaking down typical training topics into short, bite-sized modules has gained popularity in recent years, and for good reason.

In both our professional and social lives, technology truly surrounds us. Microlearning is an excellent way to harness the digital age, using hyper-focused content and mobile-ready production to create a learning experience fitting of our time.

Microlearning can come in many forms, including short videos, PDFs, podcasts, games, and infographics. It is commonly used for tangible skills, such as proper ladder use, since the limited time frame is not ideally suited for more conceptual topics.

What Are the Benefits of Microlearning?

Microlearning is not only about creating shorter training modules. Here are a few features that make microlearning ideal for any training program.

1. Mobile-Ready Content

People are constantly on their phones. According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans own a smartphone, up from 59% just five years ago. Offering short training courses optimized for use on smartphones or tablets makes the information easily accessible so learners can take training when it is convenient for them.

2. Addresses Short Attention Spans

By now you have probably heard that our attention spans are roughly that of a goldfish. It makes sense, then, that shorter training videos better suit the reality of today’s learners. Microlearning courses get directly to the point without the “filler” content you often find in long lecture-style training courses.

3. Boosts Knowledge Retention

Along that same vein, microlearning also helps with knowledge retention as the course focuses only on what is truly necessary for that topic without the clutter of irrelevant information. Smaller, digestible pieces of content deliver the important information and nothing else, meaning you are much more likely to remember what you learned.

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4. Fits into Busy Schedules

In addition to our short attention spans, the average employee also faces numerous external distractions throughout the workday. A study by the University of California-Irvine found that employees work for roughly 11 minutes before being interrupted by a phone call, an email, or a co-worker stopping by. Microlearning offers very short bursts of content — often less than 10 minutes — making it easy to fit training in between other tasks.

5. Can Be Standalone or Part of a Larger Topic

With a shorter runtime, microlearning courses can act as standalone training for topics that do not require other corresponding training, such as Crane Safety - Hand Signals.

However, microlearning can also be offered as shorter snippets of an in-depth topic. For instance, there are many types of PPE employees need to be aware of. Each can be broken down into their own microlearning course, but they are best utilized together for comprehensive training.

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6. More Engaging

Because we have become a mobile-first society with shorter attention spans, it makes sense that our training needs to be fully engaging from beginning to end. Users are far more likely to stay present and engaged in a training video lasting 5-15 minutes than they are a full lecture that could last from 30 minutes to well over an hour.

7. Offers One Objective at a Time

While a typical training course introduces multiple learning objectives, a microlearning course deals with only one. This assures learners are able to fully grasp the concept at hand before moving on to the next.

For instance, you could assign one 30-minute course on fire safety, or a series of microlearning courses covering alarms, evacuation, fire suppression, and fire extinguisher use separately, ensuring full understanding of each.

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8. Accessible for All Generations

While the Millennial generation and a recent reliance on technology may have been the driving force toward this shift in learning trends, microlearning can apply to anyone. In fact, these smaller modules may be highly beneficial to older employees when faced with learning new concepts. Short bursts of training can help ease them into a new topic.

Get Started with Microlearning Today

Microlearning delivers important information in sessions under 15 minutes long. If that time frame seem short to you, consider that the educational, informative, and inspirational TED Talks have a program limit of 18 minutes for every speaker. TED organizers set that limit because they found it creates an ideally pared-down version of the topic. As TED curator Chris Anderson explains, “It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline.”

Consider implementing microlearning to create a more effective safety training program for your entire organization.