Microlearning: How To Create Engaging Safety Training for the Goldfish Attention Span
13 October 2023 - Evotix
The jury’s still out on whether our attention spans are truly shrinking. Still, we’ve grown accustomed to bite-sized content—from TikTok videos to Instagram reels to the brief Facebook headlines we read in place of full-length articles.
The way we learn is changing too. Microlearning is just one of the new learning methods making waves in schools and workplaces. You’ve likely come across it already. From language learning app Duolingo to meditation app Headspace, microlearning has become a regular part of our lives.
In this post, we’ll cover the basics of microlearning, the infamous Forgetting Curve, the benefits and drawbacks of microlearning and how it can be used to deliver health and safety training seamlessly.
What is microlearning?
Microlearning describes a series of small learning units or short-term learning activities that learners can consume and revisit. Microlearning can take the form of short videos, audio recordings, text, images, quizzes, games—in other words, almost anything. It can be delivered via smartphone, computer or in person, but it’s particularly suited for a mobile format.
Microlearning modules should be:
The Forgetting Curve
Do you remember how it felt to spend sleepless nights studying, only to take a test and forget all of your new knowledge within a week—or even days?
In the 1880s, Hermann Ebbinghaus developed the Forgetting Curve, a theory of memory retention which purports that without continued attempts to retain information, we forget roughly half of newly learned knowledge each day. But with repetition based on active recall, Ebbinghaus found that the forgetting curve flattens. In other words, we forget much more slowly with every repetition.
That’s why, when you took the time to study repeatedly instead of rushing to cover the content in one night, you performed better in exams and retained the information in the long term. (Ouch—your teachers were right all along.)
Regularly revisiting and reconsidering those bite-sized chunks of information is key to successful microlearning.
Benefits of Microlearning
Presented in three- to five-minute chunks, microlearning modules fulfill three essential purposes:
1. Improves engagement and retention
Classroom training isn’t the most exciting way to learn—and it isn’t always great for knowledge retention. Overloading workers with information once a year (or less) won’t do much to starve off the Forgetting Curve.
With microlearning delivered in short, regular increments, workers will be more likely to retain newly learned knowledge in the long term.
2. Gives learners the flexibility to learn on the go—whenever and wherever
With microlearning modules installed on a mobile app or computer, workers can access microlearning at their own pace or whenever they have spare time.
Instead of leaving the workplace to take part in a four-hour training session, workers can determine their own schedules.
3. Gives instructors the ability to create and adapt modules with ease
Hiring an expert for a day of training can break the bank. But with microlearning, instructors and employers can choose specific lessons or even use software to create their own courses.
Instead of changing an entire course to accommodate a change in a process or protocol, employers can remove or change a single module.
Drawbacks of Microlearning
1. Not good for in-depth learning or complex topics. Difficult and in-depth topics might not be suited for microlearning. Longer training sessions where workers can focus on a complex topic for a longer period may work better in this case.
2. Might require additional training. Because microlearning happens over an extended period, workers may need additional training for pressing or time-sensitive topics.
Microlearning and Safety Training
Microlearning is uniquely suited for on-the-job health and safety training. Depending on the industry, task and complexity of the topic being taught, microlearning can be an excellent addition to (or even a replacement for) long classroom safety training sessions. Here’s how:
Microlearning modules are designed to be accessed anytime, anywhere. With microlearning happening on the job, workers will be able to put their learning into practice immediately and won’t have to leave the workplace for training.
Safety training is often delivered rarely and in large chunks. With regular microlearning modules, workers will retain safety knowledge for longer periods.
Offering workers the option to choose when and where to learn helps to combine training seamlessly into their schedules.
With microlearning integrated into a software solution, workers and managers will be able to better keep track of training progress.
To learn more about mobile and microlearning, download our white paper, Mobile and Microlearning in Health and Safety.
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