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5 compelling benefits of microtraining (and one weakness)

By Asif Rehmani
Updated November 20, 2020


What feedback do your employees give about your company’s training? Do you they really enjoy six hours of slideshow presentations on company policies - or do they zone out as soon as the sessions begin?

There is no doubt that professional learning and development is incredibly important, but at too many businesses it just isn't working. A study by McKinsey, the consultancy, revealed that only a quarter of professional training programs had any impact on performance.

As a result, many companies have tried to look at alternatives to traditional business training techniques. And, one of the fastest growing trends in professional learning and development in the past decade has been the use of microtraining.

What is microtraining, and is it right for your business?

Microtraining defined


Microtraining can be defined as any kind of short training module which helps achieve a specific learning goal. As the name suggests, micro training involves the use of short information nuggets which the learner can quickly absorb (modules should never be longer than five minutes).

Microtraining is always delivered electronically and utilizes a wide range of media, including videos, short text summaries, audio and how-to guides. Microtraining modules are usually delivered over a Learning Management System (LMS) where users can select relevant topics depending on their needs.

Learn more: Find out how microtraining boosts technology adoption

Five benefits of microtraining

So, should you be using microtraining at your organization? Here are five key benefits of this approach:

  1. Tackles the ‘forgetting curve’

The forgetting curve is a phenomenon whereby most people forget a significant proportion of what they learn within minutes of receiving the information, and they usually retain less than 30% after a single day. The reality is that people just won’t remember most of what you tell them in their monthly day-long training sessions.

Microlearning tackles this problem. By providing training in small, frequent nuggets, people are more likely to apply the learning sooner and retain it for longer.

  1. Easy to keep up to date

With traditional learning, the trainer must develop several hours of content which is delivered in lengthy blocks to employees. Each training session may take weeks to prepare, and risks becoming out of date very quickly.

With microlearning, by contrast, it is much easier for you to continually update short training modules so they are always relevant. Whether it is a new business policy or a guide to using a software feature, it takes just a couple of hours to create a microlearning module which you can send to all staff.

  1. Most appropriate way to learn

There are some kinds of business training which will always need in-person training. This includes in-depth theory, as well as learning that involves group activities.

However, there are many other kinds of learning which are much more appropriate to provide in short modules and nuggets. This is especially true for training around business processes, administration and technology.

  1. Saves time and keeps people focused

A typical business training session will last several hours and really eat into your employees’ time. Training days are tiring, reduce productivity and often contain lots of information that is irrelevant to many learners.

On the other hand, microtraining tells employees exactly what they need to know in just a couple of minutes - and is only provided to people who actually need to learn it.

  1. Fits around people’s days

Microtraining allows people to dip in and out of learning modules whenever they want. If someone has a spare half an hour, they can dedicate this time to professional development. Without microtraining available, that spare 30 minutes would probably be used much less productively.

The limits of microtraining

Microtraining has received a lot of attention from businesses in the past few years and it certainly has many undeniable benefits. However, there is one serious limitation with the way microtraining is provided at most organizations today:

Microtraining happens out of context

If an employee wants to learn about a specific company policy, process or technology, they are forced to navigate to an LMS, seek out a training module and consume the content. Unfortunately, this requirement to ‘go’ to a separate place to access learning means that many simply won't do it.

And this is why microtraining must be provided in context. If learning modules are provided at the specific moment when an employee is actually struggling, they are far more likely to access the information and apply the learning right away. At VisualSP, we call this contextual microlearning.

To learn how it works, download our whitepaper - Microtraining in Context - and see how your organization can truly benefit from micro training today.

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