Is this story familiar to you? You took a 20-minute online course a month ago on the company’s new privacy guidelines. You’re about to email a third-party vendor some business data about your customers and you’re not sure if doing so is within the company’s new guidelines. You remember taking the course, but not the specific recommendation on what to do in the situation. Further, you don’t have 20 minutes to take the course again – what do you do?
Why You Should Be Building a MicroLearning Ecosystem
As an eLearning professional, we must ask ourselves whether creating just a 20-minute online course truly suits the needs of the employees and the company. In this case, the company may be in compliance by validating that all employees have taken a regulatory online course. However, checking compliance of course completions does not always equal sustained improved employee performance. Employees tend to forget information and skills if they are not frequently applied, referenced, or reinforced. How then can you support the sustained performance of employees on the course content? The solution lies in a MicroLearning ecosystem. Here are three ways that it can help.
Provide Ongoing MicroLearning Experiences
After employees have learned a skill from an online or instructor-led course, they can receive periodic MicroLearning opportunities in their inbox. At regular intervals (i.e., every two weeks) employees are prompted to participate in a 2-5 minute learning activity. These activities should be focused on practical application of their learning. For example, if the number one troubleshooting ticket item on the new privacy guidelines currently is understanding the difference between personal and sensitive data, then this would be a great topic. If the learner answers the question correctly, they are finished. However, if they answer it incorrectly, they take a remedial three-minute review of the content. In this way, learning is targeted specifically to the employees’ current performance and will have a much greater impact on the company. The following questions in the next intervals can address other current needs or issues that are low probability but high risk, such as how to respond to a data breach.
Providing ongoing MicroLearning experiences keeps the topic current and relevant to the employees and ensures the company is being responsive, not just compliant.
Use Multiple Modalities to Explain Content
A MicroLearning experience can take many forms to suit a variety of learner needs. Here are some examples that can be part of an ecosystem:
- Video Vignette: Watching a short story places the content in an easily relatable and understandable context
- Brief Article: Reading a short article can provide relevant insights into best practices and their impacts on the employee and the company
- Gamified MicroLearning: Playing a short online game (such as Family Feud) with the content tailored to the course can increase engagement and learner receptivity
- Online Community: Responding to a prompt or a question (such as “What would you do in the situation?”) in an online moderated forum/portal can deepen the employees’ connection to the course content with their personal insights
- Infographics: Viewing a one-page overview of key points or processes can provide quick solutions to learner questions
Develop a Performance Support Ecosystem of Resources
Learners often just need access to the correct information when and where they need it, as opposed to reviewing the learning material again. This is the realm of performance support in which employees can best be supported by accessing the resources they need quickly and easily., To best meet these needs, build an ecosystem of resources that include some of the following:
- Quick Reference Guides/Job Aids/Infographics: Printable one page reference materials that can be posted anywhere
- Online Portal: A company intranet that holds relevant files, website links, directory, and more
- Video Tutorials: A catalog of short videos (less than two minutes) that show how to do particular processes
Designing and implementing a MicroLearning ecosystem can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your training initiatives. So the next time employees have questions about the company’s new privacy guidelines, they can more easily remember the MicroLearning they did last week or quickly access the type of information they need to support their performance.
Article by Johnny Hamilton
Johnny Hamilton recently won a Brandon Hall Silver award for Best Advance in Leadership Simulation Tools and is eLearning Magazine’s 2016 Learning Champion award winner as a High Performer for his “outstanding contributions to the learning industry."