Microlearning: Learning pings in busy work-lives

Jun 9, 2023

I feared for my life a couple of minutes after getting into a cab recently—not because the driver was speeding or drunk, but worse, he was constantly interrupted by notifications from his phone. The entire 15-minute ride was fraught with incessant pings of possible “upcoming trip” jingles and him casting an eye and a half on his phone, scouting which trip was nearest to his drop (me). 

Extrapolate such a distracted existence to almost every worker in the modern-day world we live in—to all of us. To some degree or the other, each of us lives in a world of constant notifications, interruptions and pings. Time is short. So-called ‘productivity’ apps keep interrupting our flow of thought, and we attempt to get work done amidst a plethora of meetings, discussions, collegial conversations and other distractions.

Can anyone work in such an environment? Can one converse, or, shudder, learn?!

Such a work environment is in huge contrast to expectations from employers, bosses and the marketplace: in today's fast-paced work environment, employees are constantly facing new challenges and changes. They are expected to do deep work and keep up with the latest trends and technologies while maintaining a high level of productivity. Learning constantly is the norm.

However, with such limited time and resources, as well as interruptions, it can be challenging (to say the least) for employees to stay up-to-date with their training requirements. This is where microlearning may provide a glimmer of hope—bite-sized training for busy employees. It steals time in minutes—those chunks of time during morning commutes, the idle minutes of lunch hour or the empty minutes before you head into a meeting.

Microlearning is a type of training that delivers content in small, easy-to-digest chunks. It is designed to provide employees with quick access to the information they need to do their jobs effectively. Microlearning modules typically range from 1–15 minutes and can be accessed on demand, making it an ideal solution for busy employees.

One of the primary benefits of microlearning is that it can be tailored to the specific needs of every business team. Does your team need a refresher on Agile methodologies? Done! How about key UX concepts? Yes, ma’am! A small set of consistent interventions can provide employees with just-in-time learning, reinforcement and refreshers in areas that are most relevant to their jobs.

Unlike traditional training programs that cover a broad range of topics, microlearning allows employees to focus on the areas that are most relevant to their jobs. This targeted approach can help employees to learn more efficiently and effectively.

Another advantage of microlearning is that it is highly accessible. Employees can access microlearning modules from their desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones. This flexibility allows employees to complete their training at a time and place that is most convenient for them. As I said before, think training during lunch breaks, commutes, or downtime, without disrupting normal work schedules.

Good microlearning is usually highly engaging. By breaking down complex information into small, easy-to-understand, “just-in-time” modules, learners are more likely to retain the information. Additionally, a judicious use of multimedia elements such as videos, animations, and interactive quizzes can help to make the learning experience more interactive and engaging.

One of the biggest issues with traditional training programs is that employees often forget the information shortly after completing the program (the infamous Ebbinghaus forgetting curve). Microlearning can help to address this challenge by delivering content in short, frequent bursts. By repeating the information in small doses over time, employees are more likely to retain the information,and most importantly, apply it to their work.

Microlearning can be used for a wide range of training topics, including compliance training, product knowledge, software training, customer service skills, and more. Past experience tells us that it is particularly effective for topics that require frequent updates or are time-sensitive.

At Adeptic, our product team has run a highly successful microlearning-based soft skills training program for members of VMware’s Taara program. Over 800 learners have successfully completed the program, and given it a 9.6 NPS. A flaming testimonial to the program itself, and to the power of microlearning!