Making the Case for Microlearning at Your Organization

Mina Shin March 5, 2020 By: Mina Shin

Members are still looking for continuing education and other professional development, they just want to be able to do it at their own pace. That’s where microlearning comes in. A look at the benefits that come with it.

Microlearning—delivering education in small, bite-sized burstsis not just another buzz word in the association world; it’s an essential modality of learning that every organization should look to adopt.

As members fight the clock to find time for continuing education and training, associations need to adjust their offerings to meet their needs. A look at why you should offer this type of learning to your members and how to effectively implement it.

Understand the Why

Studies have shown microlearning allows members to retain more information and that they better engage with the content, thanks to the online discussions, gamification, and sharing that is often a part of this learning.

Elizabeth Lepkowski, MATD, chief learning officer of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, implemented microlearning at AACE by taking content she already had and repurposing the topic into small, bite-sized pieces. “This helps pull out the real nuts and bolts of the learning goals in order to make the activity very short and straightforward,” she says.

AACE takes the medical case reports submitted to AACE Clinical Case Reports and breaks the articles down into short microlearning activities like three-question tests. By offering these activities in their learning management system, members are able to earn a small amount of continuing medical education credits for completing them. Thanks to co-promotional tactics, this also drives traffic to both AACE’s journal and LMS.

A focused lesson makes it easier for members to digest and retain the information.

Lepkowski said that the biggest challenge was setting up the structure and process for microlearning internally—specifically, receiving the case reports from the journal and then contacting the authors to assist with content development. However, once that structure was set up, the program has run smoothly.

AACE has also benefited in other ways from their microlearning effort: Members who contributed to the case reports have become more engaged with the organization after their authored work received recognition.

Microlearning participants also benefit from the experience. KiKi L'Italien, CEO and host of Association Chat, says she was skeptical to try the format at first, but after giving it a fair shot, she’s completely won over. “I love the feedback given, where the option for peer-reviewed assignments exist,” she says. “I also love engaging in conversations and the types of metric updates you get."

How to Implement Effective Microlearning

Now that you understand the benefits that microlearning brings to both associations and participants, you may be interested in implementing it at your organization. Here are six tips to get started:

Begin with a simple evaluation of your current offerings. Ask yourself two questions: Is our education program agile, adaptive, personalized, flexible, collaborative, and results-driven? Is there content that can be repurposed? For example, consider cutting a 60-minute webinar into two or three shorter clips.

Keep the content short and concise. A focused lesson makes it easier for members to digest and retain the information.

Utilize multimedia. Short videos and podcasts are great mediums for microlearning and can help keep lessons interesting.

Don’t be boring. According to L'Italien, being too scripted or too slick will turn people off since we’ve all learned how to tune out anything that resembles a commercial or appears too boring. Show personality and speak in a way that people will connect with on a human level. 

Engage with your learners. Ask your audience to respond to a question about the subject to check that they’ve understood the key concepts, according to L’Italien. Provide feedback. And if you can provide metrics, offer those to your learners, as well, so they can visually see their progress.

Inspire sharing. Encourage participants to share what they’ve learned by providing methods along the way, whether it’s through social media or connecting with other participants on an online community.

As association look to remain relevant to their members, it’s important that they adapt to their evolving learning preferences. Microlearning is one avenue to explore to achieve that.

Mina Shin

Mina Shin is managing director for the Association for Healthcare Foodservice in Arlington, Virginia, and a member of ASAE’s Healthcare Community Advisory Committee.