Microlearning secret sauce

Microlearning: The Key To Successful Learning… Or Key Ingredient?

Fulcrum Labs
138 posts

KFC’s 11 secret herbs and spices are legendary. It takes 23 different flavors to make Dr. Pepper achieve a level of cult-status delicious. And in the WD-40 recipe, the “40” stand for how many attempts it took to get the right combination of “ingredients”.  

Great recipes are all about the sum of their parts – how the ingredients come together to make magic. Each of KFC’s 11 herbs and spices might be good on its own, but it’s the combination that makes the recipe “finger lickin’ good”.

It’s not just fried chicken and soda pop companies that special recipes. Learning platforms can have them too. We certainly do. In fact, Fulcrum is based on a unique combination of interdependent learning techniques (like learner autonomy, 3.0 adaptivity and content analytics to name a few) that allow us to deliver the most effective, efficient experience possible.            

One of the key ingredients – the one that actually gets a disproportional amount of attention as a part of our  “secret sauce” — is microlearning.

There’s so much evidence of the benefits of microlearning with more seemingly appearing every week. So, people are naturally interested. Since microlearning is top of mind these days, lets look at some reasons why we’ve built our Adaptive 3.0 platform around a microlearning framework. (Full Disclosure: we recommend a microlearning approach, even if you’re not using our platform.).

What’s Microlearning

Microlearning is an approach that presents content in small, succinct, engaging learning units. (For reference, in our platform, we typically cover 1-3 learning objective per microlearning Section and the average unit lasts from 3-5 minutes.)

Why Microlearning (Really, Really) Works

Research proves that microlearning is effective because it:

  • Mitigates cognitive overload – our brains can only handle so much information at a time. Microlearning breaks learning objects down to just the essentials, making it easier for our brain’s working memory (what we use in learning) to encode new learning into long-term memory (what we use in knowledge application)
  • Increases the likelihood that learners will remain attentive during the whole session – According to Bersin by Deloitte, “most learners won’t watch videos longer than 4 minutes because the modern day worker is overwhelmed, easily distracted and impatient”. Microlearning, with its short, interactive bursts, keeps learners’ attention focused on the content (which also happens to be a key prerequisite for learning and long-term memory formation).
  • Improves retention – A recent study out of Germany indicates that short content drives up 22% more information retention. That’s a pretty clear path to training ROI, and consistent with the results that we’ve seen.

In the world of L&D, these microlearning benefits translate into tremendous real-world advantages (especially when combined with some other “ingredients”). It’s also a win for other reasons that learners, themselves, have identified. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by the Rapid Learning Institute, 94% of Learning and Development professionals stated that microlearning modules were actually preferred by learners. That is an incredibly substantial and emphatic number coming from learners that we should be listening to. The reason for this is two-fold:

1 – Microlearning fits easily into busy employee schedules. An employee can complete a quick microlearning section between projects, while they wait for a meeting to start or on the subway into the office.  And with research indicating that learners have just 24 minutes per week to dedicate to training, you can see how learning in short, targeted bursts might be so appealing.

2 – Microlearning is also motivating. Whether the training is mandatory or voluntary, finishing small learning units gives learners a sense of accomplishment, and taps into one of the main motivators for behavior – the need for achievement.

Microlearning A Key Ingredient of Adaptive 3.0

While microlearning can be a good format for learning on its own, when we support it with other techniques, we dramatically maximize its efficacy. Like we said in the beginning, it’s the combination of ingredients that make the magic happen. And we are an outcomes-focused company, as you can see by case study results like these. That’s why we incorporate microlearning, but why it’s only one of the ingredients in our “secret sauce.” In fact, it’s the combination of microlearning with other “ingredients” like those listed below that make the Fulcrum platform so distinctive:

  • A Competency-Based Approach – In the Fulcrum Platform, learners master one competency at a time – at their own pace – until they’ve mastered the course. Only once the foundations are mastered, is the learner able to advance to more challenging material. This approach improves a learner’s ability to remember and apply the learning long term.
  • Optimal Challenge – Fulcrum adjusts content in real-time to deliver the “Optimal Challenge” for each learner – presenting microlearning content that’s the exact right level of difficulty for each individual’s needs. This technique keeps learners engaged and motivated to complete their learning tasks – and come back for more with greater efficiency.
  • Adaptive Hints and Feedback – When learners are struggling with a particular question, rather than providing the right answer, Fulcrum helps people learn the correct answers by delivering hints based on their unique answer choices, just like a personal, one-on-one coach or mentor would. These “adaptive” hints build cognitive scaffolding and boost knowledge retention.
  • Learner DirectedAdult learners are most likely to stay engaged when they have the power to make decisions about their learning. That’s why our microlearing framework provides several opportunities for learner “direction”, including how they want to engages with the content, how they want to review feedback and options for self-remediation…to name a few.

So, while microlearning is a key part of Fulcrum’s platform, it’s just one piece of the big picture — Fulcrum’s Adaptive 3.0 learning platform – and our ability to deliver transformational results for our partners.

If you’re interested in learning more about microlearning, or about our other “secret sauce” ingredients, let’s connect. Also, make sure to check out our other articles on microlearning and follow us on LinkedIn to see more content like this.