Agile, flexible and bite-sized: Microlearning at Next Learning Bootcamp

Event Annika Willers · 3 years ago

At Next Learning Bootcamp 2015 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, a group of 50 L&D and HR professionals had the chance to discuss and learn about various topics, such as team learning, gamification, didactics in design and Microlearning. In his opening keynote, Bob Mosher, leading e-learning expert since 30 years, provided an understanding of how training can be sustained, which is an approach well suitable for Microlearning. An essay about the value in agile and flexible learning in the context of L&D framework such as the 70-20-10 model and the ‘5 moments of need’.

Keynote by Bob Mosher
„Learning doesn’t stick unless you put in place provisions that support performance in the workflow” – Bob Mosher

Key in effective training is reducing content and shifting the focus from training itself to sustaining learned material. How can you do that if presenting learning content is extensive and hardly leaves time for practice, feedback and review? Bob Mosher, Chief Learning Evangelist at APPLY Synergies, and keynote speaker at Next Learning Bootcamp 2015, recommends discriminating between importance and criticality. Charles Jennings, founder of the 70-20-10 framework, noticed that manager find “everything important” and are reluctant to take out information. However, the vast majority of things that people need to know to do their jobs are not at that level of criticality. Taking out information that is not critical for qualification, gives trainees the opportunity to focus on key elements and memorize them effectively.

This is in fact what Microlearning is about. Microlearning is a concept for efficient learning: flexible and agile. In Microlearning, trainees focus on key elements, presented in bite-sized units. But there is more to it. Let us take Bob Mosher’s inspiring keynote to translate a couple of learning concepts like the 70-20-10 framework or the “5 Moments of Need” model into a Microlearning example. How can learners’ needs be implemented in an online training platform? How can online features such as comments, quizzes and video sustain learning?

Effective training applies to learners’ needs

Limited capacity in learning forces trainers to focus on critical information in trainings. What is more, training needs to fulfill learners’ needs in order to be effective. Bob Mosher introduces 5 moments of need: New, More, Change, Solve and Apply.

Traditionally, training is seen as a formal instruction. It indeed forms the basics for qualification. Applicable situations for instructional learning include:

  • New: When learning for the first time
  • More: When wanting to learn more

Further in the process employees need more information, in order to stay qualified and sustain gathered qualifications. Those situations include:

  • Apply: When Trying to Apply and/or Remember
  • Solve: When Something Goes Wrong
  • Change: When Something Changes

Applying knowledge and providing adequate information for solving issues and changing contexts seem critical and time consuming, especially in online training settings. On the other hand, online training can be fast and efficient when something goes wrong or changes. Online training communicates the critical information immediately, whereas face-to-face meetings take time and effort and might not reach all the important people, especially in times of working hour flexibility, home office, and outsource production. For this flexibility, Software-as-a-Service solutions are needed that are browser based. Online training set up as Microlearning also gives the participant the freedom to return and refer to information at a later stage. Apply knowledge by interacting with other participants and getting engaged in questions. Charles Jennings suggests breaking away from structured, inflexible learning. Microlearning does this by offering continuous learning in flexibly scheduled units.

Using the 70, the 20 and the 10 in online training

The L&D framework commonly known as “70-20-10” model divides learning into 3 basic categories:

  • The 70: learning by doing (experience)
  • The 20: learning by social contacts (networks and references)
  • The 10: learning by formal programs (classroom-settings, books and software)

A common misconception about the 70-20-10 framework is for corporate training, to use the 10 only. The 10 is highly important as it is the foundation for qualifying employees. However, the 70 and the 20 can be used as well. In an online training platform like Coursepath, practice, feedback and social activities are integrated into learning content. A training based on Microlearning focuses on critical content and places additional content in download options or later modules. This way, you create capacities for Showing How, Practice, Feedback and Review. Features such as quizzes, video embedding and a variety of social interactions enrich text-based content to a full learning experience.

Performance-centered approach by Bob Mosher
The performance-centered approach by Bob Mosher integrates Discussion, Showing How, Practice with Feedback and Review into corporate training.

Snacking information at dinner tables

An important part of Next Learning Bootcamp is the informal talk about corporate learning related topics. Mujibor de Graaf, Director of Coursepath, hosted the table “Microlearning – snacks for the digital generation?” In three rounds with various dishes and changing participants, HR professionals discussed this topic together, coming to the conclusion that Microlearning is a necessary provision for training employees who often feel torn between being overloaded with information and the need to be trained. How can you make participants follow training content, practice and give each other feedback in a tightly scheduled working life? Make it bite-sized and flexible.

learning snacks
Snacks at Coursepath hosted table “Microlearning – snacks for the digital generation?”

Microlearning qualifies employees in an efficient way. Many participants wondered whether ‘snacking’ on learning units is meant for younger generations, who are used to short snippets of information like on Youtube or Twitter. It was agreed however, that even more experienced employees need updates that are memorable and can be integrated into busy schedules. Flexibility is the key: in times of on-demand services in television and radio, even corporate trainings need to be on call. When employees feel insecure about changed or critical situations, they re-visit trainings and get in contact with their trainers or co-participants. This recall, together wit the freedom to manage capacities makes training more effective and sustaining. Motivated participants are engaged with the learning content, get active in discussion and help each other, making full use of the 70 and the 20 while naturally applying the 10.

This article was published in Dutch language at nextlearning.nl. It is based on Bob Mosher’s presentation at Next Learning Bootcamp, extended with best-practice information about Microlearning in Coursepath. If you would like to learn more about Microlearning, online training and creating your own courses, visit our website www.coursepath.com for information, trial accounts and our demo academy. Should you have more questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at info@coursepath.com or +31 (0) 20 305 76 60.