Enterprises, learning institutions, learning specialists, trainers and lifelong learners have been combating against one of the oldest bugbears in the Learning & Development (L&D) realm, Ebbinghau’s Forgetting Curve, or simply The Forgetting Curve, a study of how information is lost over time when you don’t intentionally retain it.
Most of us have had the experience of attending mandatory, multi-day training sessions, workshops, conferences and seminars only to forget what we’ve learned a month later. You’re not alone. Reports show that 80% of what is learned in a traditional classroom setting is forgotten within 30 days.
The good news is that while forgetting is a pervasive process, it is not random. In fact, it is possible to signal the brain that a particular piece of information is important and that it should retain it. This is achieved through intentional injection of ‘reminders’ through various means of stimuli.
Furthermore, an infographic on the modern learner, published by “Bersin and Associates” in late 2014, seems to suggest that a typical modern learner is easily distracted, and often overwhelmed by information which leads to information fatigue.
To combat such a phenomenon, here are several things you can do to improve retention in your training initiatives:
- Reinforce the training regularly – Ebbinghaus discovered that information is easier to recall when it’s built upon things you already know. Every time we reinforce the training, the rate of decline reduces. However, we need to be mindful that such training should not be overwhelming
- Make the information easier to absorb – If you learn something from a book or an article, it’s easier to forget the meaning, or miss it entirely. Try to represent your information in a diagram, or create a video describing the learning objective
- Make it ‘just enough’ – Nothing beats a custom-made learning resource. In every piece of training you produce, never forget the core purpose of such initiative. The more relevant and timely the training, the easier it is to retain the information
- Make it more interactive – If you don’t give your learners an opportunity to interact with the content, they’ll just drift off and lose concentration. Adding elements of gameplay like a short quiz keeps the learner involved.
- Make the content bite-sized – Making content small makes it extremely efficient. Just the need-to-know information. We call them ‘just enough’.
Micro-learning is an emergent learning strategy known for quickly closing skill and/or knowledge gaps. And it seems to fit what we are looking for.
What is Micro-learning?
Micro-learning is focused learning that is delivered in bite-sized chunks, and using just-enough-technology. Since this method of learning provides small bits of information at a time, it’s best used for delivering information that are procedural or factual, rather can conceptual.
Micro-learning can be achieved using a number of different delivery methods that are ideally mobile and convenient in nature.
So why do we use micro-learning above other learning strategies?
- Avoid the risk of overwhelming learners – We have earlier identified that modern learners are overwhelmed with information. Micro-learning allows learners to move at their own pace, giving them the ability to easily review elaborate (and yet ‘just enough’) contents
- Access training anywhere, anytime – Micro-learning can be achieved using a number of different mobile delivery methods. Learning contents can therefore be easily accessed
- Help to better retain knowledge –Micro-learning breaks knowledge into smaller chunks making learning easier to digest, understand, and apply on the job.
What Does a Good Micro-learning System Offer for Businesses?
- Agility at an affordable price – Due to short training duration, the development cost of micro-learning asset are relatively lower than traditional eLearning. They can be created and deployed much quicker than traditional eLearning content too.
- Easy to update – Micro-learning assets can be updated and corrected quickly to enhance their relevancy, currency and impact.
- Wider application – Micro-learning can be applied for formal learning and assessment (both formative and summative).
- High impact – Micro-learning assets are designed to meet a narrow but specific outcome, which usually results in a positive impact on learning and application. Since these interventions are ‘just enough’, they can be used very effectively to bring about behavioral change.
A recent Global Sentiment Survey conducted by Donald H Taylor suggests that 2017 will probably be the year of micro-learning. While micro-learning is not perfect, it is already labeled as one of the key learning strategies to that can easily be adopted by L&D personnel. Ultimately, the struggle is not about getting people to train anymore, it is about giving them effective learning solutions that cut through the noise.