Friday, 28 August 2015 06:00

The Myth of Micro-Learning

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By Sharon Boller

Today’s workers and “modern learners” only have 1 percent of their work week to devote to professional development and learning. The concern I have is that we make an assumption that we can and should winnow down all learning initiatives to fit into this 4.8 minutes per day or 24 minutes per week. Most definitely, reinforcement of a skill or reinforcement of a specific body of knowledge can be handled in 4.8 minutes a day. Learning sciencebased platforms such as Knowledge Guru, qStream or Axonify can be very useful in delivering micro reinforcement in this context.

Micro-learning is NOT useful when people need to acquire/learn complex skills, processes or behaviors. Imagine trying to learn any of these behaviors or skills in 4.8 minutes per day:

  • A musical instrument
  • Project management
  • Agile software development and processes
  • Instructional design
  • Any software tool
  • Teamwork skills
  • Sales
  • A [new] product 

 

What our industry needs is better clarity on when we need to formally train people, when we need to reinforce knowledge or skills people are building on their own, and when we simply need to keep key principles or practices front and center (e.g. safety and security practices).

A few years ago, we opted to create a “learning lab” environment in our own organization. We wanted a means of building technical and project management skills — and we recognized that if we want innovation to happen, we have to give it time to happen. This sparked the idea of “skill-builders,” which are formal side projects that employees can do ON COMPANY TIME. This year, we formalized this to the point of letting an employee allocate five full work days of time on a skill builder. Criteria for doing a skill-builder:

  1. The skill-builder needs to link tightly to a competency the company has agreed is important to us. (For example, we use AfterEffects quite a bit. So if a graphic designer wants to learn AfterEffects, he or she can craft a skill-builder around it.)

  2. We need to make sure employees have sufficient time to do it; ideally, they will be able to work in one-half to full-day “chunks” on the skill-builder as it is too hard to stop/start when you are in learning mode.

  3. A formal document needs to be created that describes the project, what skills it will build, what resources are required, and how it links to our business needs.

                  — Sharon Boller is the president of Bottom-Line Performance. Established in 1995, the company creates award-winning learning solutions for a variety of corporate clients. To read the rest of this blog post, visit www.bottomlineperformance.com/the-myth-of-micro-learning.

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