Microlearning has proven itself as a game-changer for learning and development. It’s ability to target content to the learner and be delivered and developed in a small, modular approach makes it particularly attractive to keep learners engaged and up-to-date with valuable skills. It is much faster and cost-effective to update brief, digital training than long, printed manuals. Learners tend to prefer micro-learning because of its low barrier to entry, easy accessibility, and engagement.
While the concept of microlearning is not new, modern technology, constant connectivity, and busier lifestyles have converged to make microlearning evolve since the early days of the internet age. The quick shift to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic created an onslaught of quickly developed micro-learning, some of which has dubious quality. Now that microlearning is becoming more normalized in learning and development, the current trends are as follows:
Interactive vs. Passive: Learners continue to prefer video to print content, however, interactivity is becoming more important, even in video-based microlearning. There is a wide variety of rich learning content to address learner preference or accessibility needs and more tools are becoming available to help content creators design interactive lessons, increasing learner engagement.
Personalized vs. Prescriptive: Learners expect to have a voice and choice in their learning options, modalities, and content. Microlearning can offer a modular experience where learners can pinpoint specific skills they find valuable. The increase in universal design for learning offers learners multiple means of representation. While some may prefer video, others may learn better from an infographic, yet others from reading. Modern microlearning tends to offer options for consuming content.
Assessment vs. Completion: In order for microlearning to be credible, the rigor has to be measurable. Seat hours don’t demonstrate effort or mastery. Modern microlearning should contain some type of assessment throughout the course. Quick knowledge checks, scenario-based application of knowledge or creation of a learning artifact are all ways microlearning can assess learning.
Mobile vs. Stationary: In addition to choosing how to learn, learners want flexibility in where to learn. With over 85% of the world’s population owning a smartphone, mobile-friendly learning is critical. While some learning is easier on a large screen, lifestyles don’t always allow for focused time. Being able to learn on-the-go, helps modern learners be more productive.
Gamification vs. Compliance: Continuing education is a reality in may industries, but gamification through elements like challenges and leaderboards can provide psychological or tangible incentives to keep users engaged. Rewards systems within microlearning gamification increase fun and motivation. Integration of gamification in a comprehensive learning ecosystem allow both the employee and the employer track progress and learn which microlearning tactics are the most successful
Despite the long runway of the microlearning evolution, there is much improvement to be had in how we develop, use and evaluate microlearning. Not all microlearning is created equally and there are vast differences in quality, efficacy and cost. Microlearning is definitely here to stay, but it will get an upgrade in standards and credibility from emerging technology in the very near future.
Learning and development professionals should be on the lookout for these emerging trends in microlearning:
Advanced analytics: The ability to track and analyze data is getting increasingly sophisticated. Mountains of disparate data is expensive and ineffective. Companies will be shifting to more comprehensive learning ecosystems. Ecosystems will integrate with learning management systems and various learning platforms for a more holistic and varied learning experience. Learners will be able to seamlessly shift between microlearning and deeper learning.
Grounded in research: Neuroscience and cognitive research continue to reveal how the brain works and how people learn. As the field of machine learning grows, there will be increasing examination of the human brain and neural networks. As these fields continue to advance, microlearning will become more aligned to researched-based practices to optimize microlearning and knowledge retention.
Microtraining: Moving from theoretical learning to practical application will soon be more accessible in micro-learning through augmented and virtual reality. Augmented reality can support learners in the flow of work, as needed, instead of taking time out to train on a needed skill. Hands on experiences can be offered through virtual reality, providing active learning experiences to apply new learning right away and solidifying learning through doing.
Relationship based: The narrative that technology hinders relationships will be challenged by enhanced ability to connect to other humans. Learners can connect with mentors or experts in real time for advice or insights related to their work. As online collaboration tools evolve, professional learning communities, membership organizations and interest groups will have the opportunity to engage in rich learning regardless of their physical location.
Verification and recognition: Learners will be looking for ways to capitalize on their learning efforts to current and future employers. Blockchain technology can be used to transparently share verified microlearning credentials. Digital credentials will continue to increase in respectability and become affiliated and aligned with an increasing number of institutions and professional standards. Micro-learning has the potential to disrupt traditional, lengthy, classroom-based certification processes and be more accessible and valuable to learners faster.
Microlearning has unquestionably transformed the field of learning and development, thanks to its adaptability, accessibility, and focus on engagement. Its significance as a valuable tool for both contemporary learners and organizations cannot be overstated. As we navigate the constantly evolving realm of microlearning, it remains imperative to remain aware of emerging trends. These include the increasing sophistication of advanced analytics, the alignment with research-based practices, the expansion of microtraining using augmented and virtual reality, the fostering of relationship-based learning, and the growing significance of verification and recognition.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into the world of microlearning, be sure to check out our latest episode of The HIVE in FIVE. It’s a valuable resource for staying updated on the latest developments and insights in the field of microlearning. Keep learning, keep growing, and stay ahead in the dynamic realm of learning and development!
Edwards, D. (2023). The Future of Learning: Microlearning’s Emerging Trends to Watch. In Robotics & Automation News.https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2023/08/23/the-future-of-learning-microlearnings-emerging-trends-to-watch/71492/
Islam Mozumder, M. A. (2022). Technological Roadmap of the Future Trend of Metaverse based on IoT, Blockchain, and AI Techniques in Metaverse Education. ICACT. ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/10079464
Petroc, T. (2023, July). Mobile network subscriptions worldwide 2028 | Statista. Statista; Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/330695/number-of-smartphone-users-worldwide/
About The Author:
Andrea D. Kopp is a learning and leadership consultant with over 20 years of experience. She holds a M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership as well as an MBA. Her professional experience includes serving as a Senior Human Capital Consultant with Deloitte as well as leading educational associations as a Chief Learning Officer, Executive Coach and Director of Professional Learning and Business Development. She resides in the Washington DC metro area and recently joined the St. Charles consulting community.