Today, Microlearning based training has become a significant mode for online training delivery and the following stat reaffirms it further:
“The global microlearning market size is expected to grow from USD 1.5 billion in 2019 to USD 2.7 billion by 2024”.
However, organizations will continue to have Macrolearning needs too. Given the value that each one of them offers, it is important to see how the two can be leveraged by arriving at the optimal blend of Microlearning and Macrolearning.
In this article, I begin with the definition of Microlearning, its value for learners and L&D teams, and list where it works well. I highlight areas where Microlearning would not work and Macrolearning would indeed be the better fit. Finally, I outline how you can arrive at the optimal blending of Microlearning and Macrolearning to deliver a high-impact workplace training.
Microlearning and Macrolearning – The Difference
While Microlearning is all about short bites of learning and is the talk of the season, it is not a new concept. For years, Instructional Designers have been chunking content and mapping them to enabling outcomes (much the same way we do for Microlearning). This would map to multiple topics that would then get packaged into a single course (or Macrolearning).
- Macrolearning looks at the bigger picture and is typically associated with longer seat times that cover complex concepts. It also offers a range of associated concepts in the same course.
- In contrast to Macrolearning, Microlearning focuses on achieving a specific outcome or gain over a short seat time.
What is Microlearning, and What Value Does Microlearning Offer to the Learners and L&D Teams?
Microlearning features focused learning nuggets ideally designed to be 2-5 minutes long and normally not exceeding 7 minutes. It is supported across all devices – enabling the learners to move across devices (from a desktop/laptop at the office to their tablet/smartphone). Its short seat time enables it to be the preferred training to be consumed “on the go” on their smartphones.
However, Microlearning is not just splicing the bigger chunk of content into shorter nuggets.
- It must help learners achieve a specific gain/a learning take-away in the short burst.
- It should trigger the right action (learn more, practice, take a challenge, or apply).
Learners love Microlearning based training as:
- It is short and focused.
- It can be taken on the go.
- It is available to them within their workflow and they can access the nuggets exactly when required (rather than having to log on to the LMS and search).
- It gives the control to the learners and they can decide when they want to consume the content (as well as how and at what pace).
- It uses formats that are more engaging and create a more immersive learning experience. As a result, they resonate better with them (notably, videos).
L&D teams see value in Microlearning based training on account of:
- Its ability to engage learners across profiles, that is, today’s multi-generational workforce.
- Its ability to provide a sticky learning experience.
- Its high completion rates.
- Its ability to help learners apply the learning on the job so that both learners and the business get the gain they sought.
- Its approach of threading multiple nuggets over a learning pathway helps learners learn, apply, practice, and hone their skills. This leads to the desired proficiency gain and can also influence or trigger behavioral change.
- Its ability to refresh and reinforce learning that keeps the “Forgetting Curve” at bay.
Where is Microlearning a Better Fit as Compared to Macrolearning?
Here are some ways to effectively use Microlearning rather than Macrolearning:
- To create awareness or highlight value. You can offer Microlearning Videos to highlight the value of the upcoming training and create interest and motivation among learners.
- For Formal Training. You can use Microlearning to address a percentage of your corporate training needs. This can be rendered as a series of nuggets that are threaded through a learning path.
- Supplement Formal Training (including aids for performance improvement). You can also use Microlearning to supplement your Formal Trainings. The nuggets can provide support to the Formal Training through reinforcement, apply, or practice. You can also provide them as just-in-time job aids.
- To support ILT training /VILT sessions. You can use Microlearning nuggets at 3 levels (Pre-workshop prep/reading material, exercises or role-plays during workshop, and post-workshop learning summaries or learn more).
- For Collaborative Learning.
When Would Microlearning Not Work?
Microlearning may not work in situations where the training program is long and complex (that is, trainings that have complex concepts and nested learning pieces). In such situations, it makes more sense to present the training as a single larger learning unit.
Breaking down such content into multiple nuggets can be counterproductive. It would create a rather disruptive learning experience and will impact the learning takeaways adversely and a Macrolearning based approach would be the right mode, instead of Microlearning.
How Can You Blend Microlearning and Macrolearning Techniques to Deliver a Higher Impact Workplace Training?
Approach 1: Leverage on Microlearning by Using It to Supplement Macrolearning
Courses that are suited for Macrolearning (for instance, Compliance training) can be embellished by Microlearning nuggets. These could include:
- Teaser/Awareness videos: These nuggets can be used prior to the main Compliance training to create awareness and establish the significance for the organization and the learners. This will increase the learner engagement as well as improve the spirit of “why comply.”
- Learning Summaries/Reinforcements/Micro-challenges: These nuggets can help the recall, retention, practice, and apply learning acquired through Macrolearning.
Approach 2: Use Microlearning Techniques to Craft Richer Macrolearning Courses
As a lot of Mobile Learning courses move from the “Mobile Friendly” to the “Mobile First” approach, learners are consuming this content predominantly on smartphones.
These provide a great opportunity to use Microlearning techniques that can be embedded within Macrolearning courses to create higher engagement.
For instance, you can embed:
- Video to establish the value of the course (What Is In It For Me/WIIFM). This could be a part of the course or could be released prior to the training roll-out.
- Video Based Learning nuggets in different formats, notably Explainer videos for teaching concepts, can be integrated into the Macrolearning course (in lieu of the standard interactions).
- Learning summaries, Cheat Sheets, or Ready Reckoners can be designed in Microlearning formats like Infographics, Interactive Infographics, Interactive pdfs, Flipbooks, and so on. These can be easily downloaded by the learners and accessed on their smartphones.
I hope this article provides a balanced view on the question of Microlearning vs Macrolearning. Both techniques offer unique values and will continue to co-exist. In the future, you will see a use of blended Macrolearning and Microlearning techniques that can create higher impact workplace trainings.
If you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.