Micro learning

On 26th July 2017 I’m delivering a webinar for Bray Leino Learning about microlearning!

Defining micro learning is a challenging concept, as different people think of different points. Shannon Tipton at Learning Rebels states that “microlearning is NOT a new term. It’s just new to the buzzword vernacular. Microlearning has been around for as long as people have been creating work aids to put toner in copy machines.”

In The LMS Features That Drive Employee Engagement (Software Advice, 14 Oct. 2014) Brian Westfall states that “58% of employees say they’d use their company’s learning software more if the content was broken up into shorter lessons.” This highlights the need to move away from scheduled menus of training sessions way off in the future, or the 1 hour click next poorly designed e-learning modules.

What is microlearning supposed to do?

An in-depth read is Micro Learning in the Workplace and How to Avoid Getting Fooled by Micro Instructionists that focuses on the work that Christian Glahn has done for a number of years as Professor for Blended Learning and the Director of the Blended Learning Centre at HTW Chur (University of Applied Sciences in Chur, Switzerland).

He states that “the goal of micro learning is to increase the time on learning and thus reducing the time needed for getting started with new more complex learning activities.”

Later in the article Professor Glahn goes on to say that “the key challenge for micro learning is not its potential but its operationalisation.” He expands on this by looking microlearning with regards to motivation and performance of the learner in a self-regulated environment as well as feedback and reflection.

Get to the point

This Training Zone article has tips for developing microlearning and highlights that “creating concise, focused content is harder than it sounds. Don’t fall into the trap of bloating content and taking it off focus.” This really highlights the point of the microlearning, that it’s one discrete item and not reliant on other materials for understanding.

The same article also encouraged us to “embed microlearning right into the applications and systems that your users use every day” rather than locking it away in a Learning Management System. This is great advice as it makes sure that the learning is in the workflow, where people need it.

Focus on the business need

This Knowzies article highlights the need to focus on “backward design” for microlearning, encouraging us to “identify the results desired and then design activities that will make desired results happen. Microlearning is outcome oriented and so following the backward design method or using approaches like action-mapping can easily assist in creating bite-sized modules that perfectly fit the purpose.” I’m glad to see other organisations also recommending the brilliant Action Mapping, and we should be doing this for all business challenges and learning interventions.

Some other nuggets

Grovo have developed a microlearning infographic you can download that has a lot of different information in it and highlights their approach about shrinking attention spans.

Lastly, this list of tools for learning when you have a short attention span has some great ideas for platforms and apps that may help with your own, or organisational learning.

Get involved

To discuss microlearning some more, come along to the free Bray Leino Learning webinar where I’m guest speaker on 26th July 2017.

Soft skills gap – do appraisals really work for identification?

I was the guest speaker on the Bray Leino Learning webinar, “Identifying and Closing Soft Skills Gaps.” You can watch the recording here.


Appraisals are often used in organisations to review achievement and also look forward to goal setting for the coming year, which should include identifying all sorts of skills gap and how to close them. You can read a brief history of performance management here to get more of a background.

There are some that suggest the annual performance appraisal is a dying process. This includes Josh Bersin in his LinkedIn article, “Are Performance Appraisals Doomed?“.

The negative look at appraisals

In this article from Personnel Today, data from the Corporate Executive Board (now Gartner) showed that “the average manager spends more than 200 hours a year on activities related to performance reviews, but a staggering 90% of HR leaders feel the process does not yield accurate information”.

This Harvard Business Review article commented on the fitness of purpose for the future of business, that appraisals had a “heavy emphasis on financial rewards and punishments and their end-of-year structure, they hold people accountable for past behaviour at the expense of improving current performance and grooming talent for the future, both of which are critical for organisations’ long-term survival”.

Are manager’s supporting the learner?

Moving away from the debate of appraisals and whether they are fit for purpose any more, a recent webinar with Lentum Learning Transfer Software and Lever Transfer of Learning highlighted results from their 2017 Learning Transfer Research (due to be published very soon).

The webinar included these results:


Above shows the steep drop from what is learned initially to sustaining that learning for longer term performance in the workplace, as reported by L&D survey respondents globally.

Lentum and Lever highlight that this is a significant issue in the investment of resources into L&D programmes without significantly showing change in workplace performance.

Additionally, this data was telling about manager support:


A staggering 46% of respondents stated that manager’s were not involved in supporting the learning transfer, and therefore work improvement, of their direct reports.

This post from 70:20:10 framework champion Charles Jennings writes about research that shows “managers who set clear objectives, explain their expectations, and clearly set out how they plan to measure performance have teams that outperform others by almost 20%.”

A great Training Journal blog from Paul Matthews of People Alchemy states that “the delegate should be sent back from the course with a list of actions and goals that will deliver on the desired, paid-for business outcomes. That is the core purpose of learning transfer.”

With this information it seems absolute madness that more organisations don’t have these processes, approaches and, probably most importantly, culture as part of their business. Why wouldn’t you want to improve performance by 20%? If your managers are spending 200 hours (or over five weeks!) a year on performance reviews, why wouldn’t you want to see the pay off from that time?

Is the problem that manager’s are too busy? Is it that they don’t see anything to do with ‘learning’ as their job? Do L&D do a poor job of uniting learning to performance? It’s yes to all of them, and many, many more elements involved too.

Harold Jarche, on his blog, states that ““We have come to a point where organisations can no longer leave learning to their HR or training departments. Being able to understand emerging situations, see patterns, and co-solve problems are essential business skills. Learning is the work.”

What can we do about identifying and closing the soft skills gap?

You can join us on the webinar on Wednesday 26th April 2pm UK time, 11pm AEST, 9am EST, and discuss further!

Watch recording