Traditional E-learning, Micro-learning, or Nano-Learning – What’s Right for my Employees?

The demands on employees’ time are immense. Despite technological advancements speeding up our work processes, it seems like our people have even less time. In this scenario, fitting in learning, whether company-mandated or certification-based (or both), becomes a challenge. Clients often approach us to address this issue by designing learning programs in smaller, more manageable chunks—enabling microlearning or nano learning. But are these truly the silver bullet solutions they claim to be? Let’s delve into each option and explore situations where each might excel.

E-learning Types

If you ask ten different learning professionals to define each type of learning, you are likely to get ten different answers. Most of learning professionals will agree in principle to the characteristics I’ve laid out here.

Traditional E-learning – Traditional eLearning courses introduce multiple concepts, providing learners with opportunities to apply those concepts through practice. These courses may incorporate scenarios or simulations, offering interactive reviews with evaluative feedback to solidify concepts before a final assessment against the learning objectives.

  • Good use cases: Teaching complex concepts, or developing skills, with a consistent approach across a large group of employees with competing schedules. Also, compliance-based courses that require demonstration of completion and comprehension. The self-paced nature allows flexibility in completion time and ensures every employee experiences the same messaging.

Micro-learning – Microlearning courses, akin to traditional eLearning, focus on a single topic. They stand alone, introducing a concept and providing opportunities to apply what has been learned through review interactions, culminating in a final assessment. The lighter content allows them to fit into a smaller package, reducing the time to complete.

  • Good use cases: Level-setting learning cohorts to fill potential learning gaps before beginning a broader instructor-led program. Also applicable to any content easily focused into a brief standalone learning. Multiple microlearning courses can be combined into learning paths to cover a broader range of interrelated topics.

Nano-learning – Bite-sized learning interactions, best suited for mobile delivery, nano learning is not comprehensive but serves as an excellent supplement to comprehensive programs. It acts as a content refresher, concept reinforcement, or an independent opportunity to practice a new skill. Short simulations, where learners navigate through scenarios and make decisions, are excellent uses of nano learning, allowing application of skills to simulated scenarios they are likely encountered in daily life.

  • Good use cases: Short simulations focusing on a specific skill by navigating through a scenario mimicking life; refresher blasts to employees for policy reminders, etc.

So, are microlearning and nano learning silver bullet solutions for busy employees? Not really. Any form of eLearning can be designed to allow the learner to step away when needed, and most learning management systems (LMS) enable bookmarking for a seamless pick-up where they left off. What truly impacts the form factor of your learning program is the content and what you want your learners take away from the course.

At Smartfirm, we have over twenty years of experience in delivering award-winning eLearning courses. We’d love to hear what your training need is and work with you to develop the right solution for your employees.

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