On-the-job learning is part of every industry. But it also has a tendency to be disruptive, although that’s never the intention. Managers reschedule staff to ensure attendance at training while still covering the floor or clients, for example; employees may lose momentum when stepping away from a project, especially for an extended, day-long training session. But microlearning offers another way: embed small learning opportunities into employees’ workday, providing education without interrupting their (and the organization’s) workflow.
Making learning part of the job
Industry analyst Josh Bersin calls this model Learning in the Flow of Work®. He suggests that this concept is a natural progression of the training and education methods that came before in conjunction with tech advancements. In essence, Bersin’s Learning in the Flow of Work® encourages folks to connect and disconnect with learning opportunities in an environment where content is strategic in nature. It’s different than many other online interfaces where the goal is to get someone to continue clicking, where eyeballs equal revenue – in this case, it’s important to limit the engagement in an appropriate way.
So what’s the advantage to developing or contracting for mobile learning that facilitates learning in this way? Efficiency and effectiveness.
Mobile learning: Why it works
People are already busy and crunched for time at home and at work, regardless of the sector. Bersin’s research shows that folks have less than half hour per week for training. Embedding learning opportunities into the work day provides staff with necessary tools for success and productivity at their fingertips. It makes learning part of everyday tasks and alleviates additional stresses (to the employee and the supervisor) that come with scheduling and shift coverage to accommodate training needs.
Mobile microlearning customizes employee-driven and typically independent learning. Employees get training content that’s targeted to their needs. And it empowers a workforce by trusting them to participate and do so at the time that best fits their schedule, whether that’s during a commute, a 15-minute break or an unexpected slow period in between tasks. That level of trust can drive employee motivation and engagement.
Microlearning provides useful learning opportunities seamlessly, when and where an employee has a question or there’s an organizational need for it. A just-in-time model makes learning available on-demand; perhaps a machine operator needs to verify a setting or a customer service rep wants to confirm the exceptions to a new policy in an effort to satisfy a customer’s demands.
Alternatively, mobile learning modules can be plugins to existing productivity systems (e.g., Slack). Education materials can be queued up for staff to complete at the beginning of a shift, in advance of a new product roll-out, or other prescribed times that are identified by management and leadership as appropriate. This makes training seamless for the employee and management; no worries that someone will miss it or can’t catch up.
On-demand learning in bite-sized chunks like this can improve cognitive understanding and retention. Studies show that folks can hold only a few pieces of information in short term memory. Mobile learning doesn’t overload folks with more than they can reasonably retain, avoiding frustration and disengagement. Customized microlearning content, like videos for example, can also be inclusive, allowing folks who learn better in ways other than text to benefit equally from workplace learning opportunities.
Putting learning opportunities in front of people during their natural workday is the most efficient and effective way to help them learn by providing immediately useful content in a manageable format.