Microlearning microskills in 2017
Digital learning solutions that target skill development in the 21st century will increasingly be centered around engagement as opposed to compliance, as Josh Bersin from Deloitte rightfully noted in his post on Digital Learning. The focus on skill development will have to center around the way in which we learn not only the device through which we learn.
With dropping attention spans among learners and a burgeoning number of skills slated to become obsolete in various industries, the objective of skill development has never been more important — for prospective employees, organizations and even governments.
Changing the approach to learning
But as the time to learn continues to put pressure on the learner, it also is forcing organizations to relook at what exactly within a skill needs to be learnt in the first place. Whereas a skill such as objection handling for a sales person is critical to win the trust and confidence of buyers, there’s no end to the degree of mastery a learner can gain from this skill. Yet research points out that we only apply a small percentage of a learnt skill on the job, owing to various factors.
It’s safe to assume that if we could cluster various applications of the same skill, we could break it into smaller sub skills or microskills which would have a higher likelihood of being learnt and therefore of being applied on the job. Similarly, by leveraging digital learning solutions, the approach of microlearning or learning in bite sized sessions of no more than two to three minutes can work very powerfully to learn a set of microskills.
Taking the example of microlearning and microskills further, consider a week-long classroom onboarding program on customer service at a fast-growing consumer focused organization. While adopting a digital learning approach in the form of mobile learning for 1,000 new hires (and an additional 100 monthly new hires) is a no-brainer, the challenge of adoption and completion of the learning course would depend on the approach towards learning that the new hire would experience on his or her mobile phone.
Simply breaking the week-long program into mini modules or interactive and short videos may not be sufficient. When we think about instant retention and application, we first must consider what skills are immediately applicable during an interaction with a customer — say in the first 10 seconds. For instance, besides a professional outlook, you may consider it important to have a pleasant expression and a welcoming body language and tone. While you can argue that this is basic information, unfortunately, during work exigencies and time pressures, such finer details are often either missed out or not applied authentically.
Similarly for a consumer bank, a decline in the US dollar might trigger the bank to target foreign exchange linked product knowledge to their relationship managers. Like customer service, product knowledge on foreign exchange may also be learnt in a similar experience wherein content is:
- Categorized into small instances that promote immediate application
- Sequenced based on a typical interaction with a customer looking for a forex linked banking product
Instant recollection of these messages via interactive content in the form of a microskill can
- Reduce the “perception of time” barrier drastically and encourage learners to trudge along
- Enable quicker retention and hence application
In this new age of digital learning and skill development, adopting an approach towards microlearning and microskills can not only improve learner utilization but also retention and application, thereby leading to better analysis on the effectiveness of the skill itself.
Taking that example one step further, microskills and microlearning can enable organizations to iterate on their learning curriculum by identifying skill gaps across learners and building newer content (microskills) to personalize the learning experience for employees, based on the iteration of content in an effortless manner.
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