Why world's best companies succeed on microlearning?

Microlearning is an approach for skill-based education which deals with relatively small learning units. There must be something in it while the biggest and best-performing companies are taking this approach in everyday governance.

To make microlearning more practical, let's characterize it. This term is often connected with microcontent. It could be some short quotes, a few seconds movie clip, flashcard, short podcast, SMS and more. 

It is believed that we can call the process microlearning if it can be done in the amount of time between a few seconds to about fifteen minutes. It could also be connected with other short-lasting activities.  Nowadays it is most widely used to describe the informal way of how people are learning things using all of the available sources, especially the Internet and some new and advanced technologies.

According to the report "Microlearning: an emerging field in science" by Theo Hug from the University of Innsbruck (Austria) "Freeing MicroContent from its container allows for all kinds of new ways of using, reusing, hashing, mixing and mashing content. Content gains new meaning in new contexts, well beyond the intention of the original authors."

To be sure, that we are dealing with microlearning, let's take a look at all of the dimensions that characterize it. The first one is time, as we previously said, it should be short. A low afford kind of shortness.  The second one is the content, that should be presented in small units, concern relatively simple issues, and possibly narrow topics. It should also be informal, as it is easier to memorize. What form should it have? The best way is to present content in episodes. In this case, you could provide a lot of knowledge in the most digestible way. Two last things to have in mind is the mediality of the content and the consistent learning type.

How Walmart increased personnel safety thanks to microlearning?

When we think about a Walmart, a multinational retail corporation, the last word that will come to our mind is "micro." We name this hypermarket chain operator with adjectives like biggest, wealthiest, most significant, most prominent and so on. But there is one activity in which Walmart excels with "micro" in its name. It is called microlearning.

If you are one of the biggest employers, sooner or later the safety of your personnel will become a significant and vital issue. With 150 distributor centers across the United States with more than 75 000 associates, the chance of an injury is quite big. It is why in 2010, Ken Woodlin, Vice President of Compliance, Safety and Asset Protection for Walmart Logistics decided to introduce a safety program. His goal was to go one step ahead and build a world-class safety culture. He decided to implement it by microlearning.

Woodlin hired a company that was supposed to face a few key challenges. Reducing safety incidents in Walmart Logistics locations was the first point of the agenda. Woodlin wanted to improve employees’ knowledge about safety practices. With multi-generation staff, he needed a solution that could engage all of the employees. The last task was to predict at-risk behaviors.

After recognizing the main problem, the company decided to use microlearning as the best tool to implement solutions that would work with all of the four generations of employees. Something that could be beneficial for the Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. In 2012 he implemented a microlearning platform that identified the knowledge gaps and gave the employees the ability to perform their roles in the best way. The platform works like a quiz that should be taken during each shift. It takes about three to five minutes of playing the nice game and answering some critical questions meanwhile.

The results were magnificent. Incidents at eight of Walmart's centers decreased by 54 percent. About 96 percent of employees applied their knowledge on the job. With more than 90 percent of voluntary participation, it showed that the staff accepts this kind of training. Other results showed that the knowledge level on the topics around safety increased by 15 percent and the employee's confidence in this field increased by 8 percent.

If Warren Buffet uses microlearning,  you can't just pass by.

One of his companies, Berkshire Hathaway Media Group, is managing over 100 newspapers, with over 30 of them published daily. With multinational and multicultural sales team it wasn't so easy to find the one way to prepare a training program that would fit everybody. Thanks to the microlearning platform, 98% of all of the participants found it useful and said that with just-in-time learning options it met their needs perfectly.

How expensive is that solution? 

Walmart is a big company with almost 12 000 stores worldwide and more than 500 billion dollars in revenue. That is huge. The organization is wealthy enough to use the most expensive tools. But we need to remind one thing. Walmart's strategy is to be cost-efficient. That is why this company is an excellent case study for other, much smaller organizations. And microlearning is one of the best examples of that thesis. It is a cheap, efficient, easy to use and engaging proposition for all sorts of companies.

What are the microlearning tools available on the market?

One of the most affordable platforms to use is Highp. Highp is a platform that allows sending short, personalized video and audio messages via SMS or email. The solution is a non-traditional one – since it is not an app, the user doesn’t need to log in or install anything on their mobile device. Thanks to which it can be used in a variety of different situations. The messages are short enough to be listened to in the so-called “meantime”. The recipients choose when and where they want to get acquainted with the content – whether it is in the car, the elevator, the gym or during the lunch break.  Highp is user-friendly, designed to be used by everyone, including those who do not use mobile devices on a daily basis. The platform allows making a queue for messages which are adapted to the needs and individual progress. The owner of the process can quickly check which employees finished the program and who stuck along the way.

Microlearning as a tool for onboarding.

One of the best examples of an activity which is crucial for every company, and could be quickly done with microlearning is the onboarding process. When a new employee appears on the deck, it is a must to introduce them to other employees, their tasks and responsibilities. Even in the smallest organization, it can be a painful and inefficient process. Thanks to microlearning solutions such as the Highp-based onboarding package, the process of introducing a new employee to the organization’s structure could be conducted in a much more comfortable manner almost effortlessly. It could also be essential in building a professional and modern image of the company. Used worldwide it might help the busiest and hard-working employees to focus only on the essential matters, avoiding unnecessary meetings, never-ending emails, and conference calls till the wee hours. What is even more critical, micro-knowledge is easy to memorize and it is less likely to be forgotten.

If the best-managed companies on the planet could use microlearning platforms and get results, it is a perfect solution for every organization. Highp, created by experts from Connectmedica with the help of the best trainers and training authors seems to be the right choice for every aspiring business.

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