The practices and concepts associated with eLearning have been a part of the corporate training landscape for years. Many businesses have found that online self-directed courses save time and money over traditional courses with an instructor and classroom.
But now, a new paradigm is coming to the eLearning world - microlearning. Traditional electronic classes are between 30 and 60 minutes long, and generally cover a multitude of related concepts in the same session. With microlearning, those sessions are further broken down into 10 minute modules focusing on only one concept.
Microlearning, sometimes referred to as mobile learning because it's designed to be consumed on the go on mobile devices as well as on a typical computer, is taking over the electronic learning world.
Mobile learning products made $8.4 billion dollars in revenue in 2014, and that figure is expected to grow to $14.5 billion by 2019 as more companies add it to their training programs, according to a report by Ambient Insight. The growth in the microlearning market is being spurred on by a number of factors.
Employers are looking for new ways to train their employees without losing productivity. In the past, a worker who needed training on a new concept or skill could miss as much as a week of work while they traveled off-site to a seminar or other course.
Microlearning lets companies do away with that kind of time-intensive learning, replacing it with short, bite-sized classes that can be consumed on mobile phones whenever it's convenient, according to an eLearning Industry post by Ayesha Habeeb. The short, concise nature of the modules means an employee could fit in a quick course while they are on the train into the office in the morning, or between meetings during the work day.
Americans born after 1980 are considered part of the millennial generation. According to the White House, millennials became the largest generation in the country in 2013, with one-in-three people able to claim membership.
"They multitask and have very short attention spans, so microlearning is perfect for them."
This generation is the first to grow up in an all-digital world, and they are much more comfortable interacting with the world through their technology. They multitask and have very short attention spans, so microlearning is perfect for them, the eLearning Industry post said. A millennial can easily transition from work to learning and back as they need to gain more information. The short duration of the learning modules also meshes well with the limited attention spans of people in this generation.
Much of the rise of eLearning, and by extension microlearning, has been brought about in an effort to reduce costs. Training budgets are small, and companies demand high-quality courses for as little money as possible.
A traditional class, or even a traditional eLearning class, is designed to present the same information each time it's taught. They cover the same topics in the same way every time. But in the modern world, this is not always the most effective approach.
Thanks to an ever-changing business landscape, the information communicated to workers often needs to be updated on a regular basis. The eLearning Industry post noted that many companies have begun to use microlearning to meet this challenge. Short courses are much easier and more cost effective to produce than longer-form classes, and are therefore better suited for the needs of corporate training.