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Microlearning: The answer to overloaded L&D teams and overwhelmed employees

03 Sep 2020

Microlearning: The answer to overloaded L&D teams and overwhelmed employees

Mette Olesen, Marketing and Communications Manager, LMS365. eLearningForce 
Microlearning: The answer to overloaded L&D teams and overwhelmed employees

The internet offers an incredible ability to find, learn and create information at a record rate. However, this hyper-ease of accessing large amounts of material has had negative impacts on human cognition, one of which being a rapidly decreasing attention span. In fact, since 2000, the human attention span has shrunk from an average of 12 seconds to around 8.25 seconds, officially making our attention span shorter than a goldfish’s - averaging around 9 seconds. 

This has not only impacted our attention, but our memory as well.

Modern professionals report checking their email up to 30 times an hour and picking up their phone around 1500 times in a week! No wonder our minds are feeling fuller and our memory more stretched. 

To adapt to these changes, businesses are making major shifts in how they present information, however employees are becoming increasingly unengaged and disempowered in their work. Most report feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information they are required to absorb. 

It is exactly this cognitive overwhelm that is leading to lower employee motivation and training effectiveness in modern businesses. Let us look closer into cognitive overload and how it manifests itself in learning environments. 

Cognitive overwhelm and its effect on learning efficiency 

Cognitive overwhelm can be described as the consequential feeling of having ‘too much’ to process at one time. When our minds are bombarded with copious types of information, we can easily get overloaded and suffer from stress, anxiety and low self-confidence. 

Modern learners are asked to absorb ample amounts of data from a variety of sources, whilst simultaneously integrating past, learned experiences. All this in addition to picking up new technologies and strategies. Online learners suffer most as they encounter extraneous online information even before login. Just think of how many emails, pop-ups and banners you see on your way to a work page or company intranet. 

Of course, employees aren’t at fault here. Unfocused training presentations that lack context or real-world frameworks make it difficult for them to remain focused on the most important information. This overload is changing how humans think, learn and operate. Therefore, it is expected that educators and leaders must also change, hence the advent of Microlearning. 

Microlearning for modern learners 

One of the largest contributing factors to cognitive overwhelm is the amount of information delivered to learners. Macrolearning has been the norm for decades, focusing on the delivery of large amounts of information in order to provide the learner with the ‘whole picture’. 

In opposition - and in response to shrinking attention spans - Microlearning is delivered in shorter, bite-size pieces such as infographics, videos, short quizzes and interactive PDFs. This compressing of information makes the material more digestible and makes the transfer of learning up to 17% more efficient. 

So, instead of L&D teams giving employees long-winded paragraphs of text to memorise, they might use a microlearning-friendly format of a vibrant infographic that highlights the most important facts and figures. 

Not only do 94% of L&D professionals favour this type of training method because it can speed up content development by 300%, but also because it has shown to create 50% more engagement from employees and modern learners. 

In this way, both learners and organisations are reclaiming valuable time and attention. Microlearning eases overloaded learners by delivering focused, condensed content to cut out the clutter. The modern learner is able to: 

  • Spend more time engaging with and exercising the training they are provided 

  • Learn in a customised and flexible way that fosters more engagement and creativity 

  • Release themselves from stressful learning environments, improving their health, happiness and overall productivity 

  • Stay competitive and adaptable to the ever-changing work environment, boosting self-confidence and professional agility 

When integrated with online training platforms, learning becomes more flexible, agile and accessible, all the important makings of a modern digital workplace. 

Real-world impacts of LMS microlearning integration 

Learning Management Systems (LMS), such as LMS365, allow L&D teams to customise content in a way that best serves employees organisational education. When an LMS - which is comprised of interactive documentation, group communication tools, and streamlined training programmes - integrates microlearning approaches, people gain more experience, better training and have more fun within the system. 

Three ways that an agile LMS utilising microlearning techniques can promote learners’ success: 

  • On-the-go learning capabilities: By catering to the flexibility and mobility of our lives, an LMS allows people to learn on their time, whether it be on their commute home or on a walk. Learners can find the time and space best for them and always have access to important learning through integrated mobile applications available through the LMS. 

  • Microsoft communications tool, Teams: By incorporating microlearning methods into Teams, your people have a dedicated space for specific projects. People can then collaborate with team members, creating a more structured learning environment and eliminating extraneous or distracting information not connected to task at hand. This, all being possible in one integrated Teams and LMS. 

  • Engaging Video Storytelling: Did you know that 59% of senior executives report that they would rather watch a video than read a block of text? With the collaboration of an LMS and microlearning, it’s easy to create engaging videos that use responsive designs to help learners absorb more. Effective videos are shown to be between 2-5 minutes. 

The human attention span might be shrinking, but our need for critical information is not slowing down anytime soon. Therefore, we must combat the effects and cater to the modern learners who crave flexibility, accessibility and simplicity. 

Mette OrelsenMicrolearning methods are here to stay, being increasingly integrated into more mobile learning apps and AI-supported programmes. Becoming an adopter will allow your L&D team to support your learners’ diverse learning styles. 

And with the combined efficiency of an LMS, you can prevent cognitive overwhelm and promote a more adaptable, connected workforce of empowered employees.    

Mette Olesen
Marketing and Communications Manager
LMS365. eLearningForce 

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