Posted by Rachael Jones on May 25, 2017 8:54:00 AM



If your company is like many, you’ve probably invested a lot of time and money in creating, implementing and managing your learning and development program. The question is: do you know how effective it is? Are the learners not only understanding the information but also retaining it? Are they able to put the learning into practice in their daily jobs?

Retention is often a challenge for L&D professionals. “While forgetting depends on many factors, research shows that on average, students forget 70 percent of what [they are taught] within 24 hours of the training experience.”1

For learning leaders, that is an alarmingly high percentage. The good news is, one effective way to improve training retention is with microlearning.

Microlearning is learning in short, easy to digest chunks of material. Topics can be broken down into modules of three to ten minutes, and are made available on-demand, and on multiple devices so learners can access the material when it is convenient for them. Research shows that adults learn and retain information better when it is presented in a shorter format.

This is supported by the work of German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus, who studied memory and is known for his discovery of the “spacing effect” and “forgetting curve” in learning retention.

The spacing effect is the phenomenon whereby learning is greater when studying is spread out over time, as opposed to studying the same amount of content in a single session.2

The forgetting curve shows how information is lost over time when there is no attempt to retain it. A typical graph of the forgetting curve shows that humans tend to halve their memory of newly learned knowledge in a matter of days or weeks unless they consciously review the learned material.3

The basic principles of microlearning address both the spacing effect and the forgetting curve.

Achieve training sustainability

Microlearning is not meant to replace longer, in-depth training designed to teach complex or detailed subjects, but it can complement it to achieve training sustainability. This is the idea of reinforcing the information provided during a traditional training program by creating short microlearning modules that are available on-demand or shared regularly after the formal training is complete.

As an example, a leading pharmaceutical company hosted a two-day product launch meeting for their sales representatives. The amount of information the reps had to absorb about each new product was quite overwhelming. The learning leader decided to use microlearning to reinforce the training.

In the days following the event, the sales team could access a series of short e-learning modules available on the company’s learning management system (LMS) highlighting the main features and benefits of each product. The reps could take the courses on their own time, and also access them if they needed a quick refresher prior to a client call.

Learn more about TrainingFolks’ hosted LMS.

Another good use of microlearning is to reinforce ongoing human resources topics such as safety or cyber security. After the initial training, these are areas employees often forget about in their daily jobs. A series of two to five minute mobile-friendly videos on different aspects of the topic could be sent weekly or monthly as a reminder to keep these subjects top of mind for employees.

In the case of cyber security, individual modules could include best practices for passwords, instructions on the types of software programs employees can and cannot install on their work computers, and procedures for what to do if they receive a suspicious email or link.

To improve the effectiveness of your training programs and ensure long-term retention of the information, “…what you do after training is more important than what you do during training.”4 You may want to consider a microlearning component as part of your overall learning and development strategy.

Is microlearning right for your organization? Download the free e-book “Microlearning 101” to find out.

Microlearning TrainingFolks

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Topics: microlearning

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