When the Microlearning is the Learning

In our last blog post we described three Learning Campaigns, representing three different microlearning strategies:

Learn – when microlearning is the learning. There is no prior large-scale learning event.

Master – using microlearning to ensure long term learning mastery after a traditional learning event.

Sustain – using microlearning to sustain long term learning after a traditional learning event.

This week we will look more closely at the “Learn” strategy.

By now we are all familiar with the traditional learning/forgetting curve:

Learning - Forgetting

In the traditional Learning Event model a large-scale learning event (eLearning, ILT, blended) is followed by a mastery certification exam (the vertical grey bar). Decades of research have shown that, absent a continuous learning strategy, there will be a rapid drop-off in knowledge over a period of days and weeks after the learning event.  Consequently, most microlearning strategies focus on post-event (right side of the curve) learning sustainment.

But what if there is no learning event? What if the microlearning is the learning? This can happen under any number of circumstances in which a large learning event is not warranted. For example:

  • a minor update to a product
  • a new marketing initiative
  • a new competitor
  • a new compliance policy

While it might be possible to create a one-off video or microlesson to cover the topic, this is not the best strategy. Why? Because the forgetting curve is just as relevant to a short microlesson or video as it is to a larger learning event. There is nothing inherent in a short lesson that makes it immune to forgetting. So, in this case, a successful microlearning strategy would deploy two evidence-based learning principles:

  • Successive relearning spaced over time
  • Retrieval practice

Or in other words, the microlearning must be spaced over time and there must be opportunity to practice what has been learned to drive knowledge retention. In Intela this strategy looks like this:

Learn Campaign

A Subscription is a magazine-like series of microlessons spaced over time (the timing can be daily, weekly or any other interval, as dictated by the learning requirements). Each Subscription is targeted around a topic area and the number of Subscriptions is also dictated by the learning requirements, so there can be one or more of them. Crucially, each Subscription is followed by a Sprint, which is an adaptive questioning exercise in which the learner must answer and “retire” questions by answering them correctly twice in a row.

Through this combination of Learning Subscriptions and Learning Sprints the content is learned and retained.

We’ve said this before: Microlearning is more than just random learning nuggets. For the learning to be effective it must be part of an evidence-based strategy spaced over time.

Next post we’ll look at the “Mastery”-style Learning Campaign.




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