Microlearning is a method of training and development that’s rapidly gaining popularity. With the evolution of technology only gaining speed, our lives have become overwhelming. Each day, we’re faced with endless distractions, and our ever-shrinking attention spans make sitting down to engage in any type of training program a challenge. Enter: microlearning.
Microlearning takes training content and breaks it down into tiny, digestible, bite-sized chunks. It takes traditional training programs and makes them more accessible and engaging by working with our busy schedules (and mobile devices) instead of against them. But, just how bite-sized are we talking?
It seems that throughout the talent development industry, the answer to that question varies greatly. Some would say one to two minutes, while others say up to 20 is just fine. But microlearning takes time and resources to roll out. We don’t want our results to be just fine. If we’re going to invest, we should know how to maximize the results, based on data, and not on opinion.
A recent poll conducted by ATD Research focused on two important questions: What’s the ideal length for a microlearning event and what’s the maximum length for a microlearning event. The average maximum amount (reported by 144 talent development professionals) was 13 minutes. Yet, the average time they said it should be is 10 minutes.
These polls informed further research. We’ve partnered with ATD Research on a research report: Microlearning: Delivering Bite-Sized Knowledge. You can access the report here!
In the report, there were 228 respondents whose organizations currently use microlearning. Of the respondents, 59% indicated that the most effective microlearning events were longer than two minutes but shorter than 5 minutes. And yet, they also indicated that about a third of microlearning used in their organization was from 10 to 15 minutes long. Meaning, the majority of microlearning events used in their companies are longer than they believe to be ideal.
What would be the reason for this? It seems that, as with all methods of education, it’s best to provide adequate time to convey to learners what needs conveying, rather than adhering to strict, yet arbitrary time constraints. The shorter and more concise, the better, but not at the expense of transferring the knowledge. Microlearning then, is a constant balancing act between opting for enough time and detail, and staying short and concise to hold the learner’s attention.
A focus on the content then, rather than the length, is at the crux of getting microlearning right.
If you’re interested in learning more about microlearning access our research report with ATD Research: Microlearning: Delivering Bite-Sized Knowledge, available now!
You can also tune in for a webinar with ATD on Wednesday, April 19th to learn the highlights of the microlearning research report. Register here!