the last word
NEXT-GEN TRAINING FOR RAPIDLY CHANGING BUSINESS ENVIRONMENTS
The Association for Talent Development (ATD) reports
the average time spent training is over 30 hours per year
per employee (higher for larger companies), and that’s actually
five hours longer than it was a decade ago. And even
when trainers strive for brevity, their aim has been to consolidate
content down to a day instead of a week, or reduce to 90 minutes
what used to be a three-hour-long training session. That’s quite
a bloated meal for an audience who’d do better with snack-sized
content they can take back and consume on the job.
Simply put: attention spans are dwindling, video consumption
is up and technology is turning over so rapidly that traditional
L&D training methods can’t keep pace. Why? Old school training
is expensive, time-consuming and simply can’t be produced
fast enough to react to a constantly changing work environment.
Not only do digital skills need an upgrade every few months, they
need an overhaul every few years: Deloitte recently estimated digital
skills have a half-life of just 2.5 years for any given role.
Microlearning – defined as learning in short, digestible, bitesized
units – is next-gen training for an audience seeking curricula
that matches their own rapidly evolving tastes: short, necessary
and results-oriented. Microlearning is all of these things, and it’s
beneficial to both learners and trainers in a variety of ways.
For learners, the chunks are easily understood and consumed on
a worker’s own time, facilitating “just in time” learning (i.e., when a
worker needs it, when it’s relevant to their work and when they’re
the most receptive). Because if you need immediate, on-the-job
training, you can’t interrupt the work for long – which means it’s
just as viable as a performance aid as it is a training tool.
It’s also ideal for trainers, because the content is quick to create,
manage and distribute – and perhaps most excitingly, far more affordable;
some estimates say you can cut your training budget in
half (leaving plenty of room for experimenting with different
formats and far higher production value).
Last and best of all, microlearning is more effective
than traditional models. Distributed practice aids
in retention (or, if you think of it in terms of nutrition,
aiming to eat fairly well at every meal is
far better than a weekend of crash dieting). And
while traditional training often yields few longterm
takeaways (90 per cent of new skills are
lost within a year, research suggests), estimates say
a microlearning methodology consistently yields four
to five learned takeaways per course.
If that’s not enough, microlearning works well for both
new and veteran workers, since the longer somebody’s
on the job, the more directed their learning requirements
are over someone new (they can orient themselves in
the course content, only spending time on what’s necessary).
Microlearning is also ideal for global training,
because small segments are easily translated for different
With workplace technology moving at the speed of
sound, HR professionals need a way to ensure their
workforce is at the forefront. Microlearning allows
companies to adopt the specific techniques needed
for their own organizations to streamline any and all
training programs. n
Jeff Fernandez is the cofounder and CEO of Grovo.
By Jeff Fernandez
48 ❚ MARCH/APRIL 2015 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL