Blending Microlearning and Instructor-led Training: When and Why
Blending Microlearning and Instructor-led Training: When and Why

Blending Microlearning and Instructor-led Training: When and Why

Employee Learning & Development   — 3 MIN


Generally speaking, we all like shiny new things. When scrolling through our social media feeds or checking out what's new on Netflix, our minds enjoy moving from one item to the next. Microlearning provides the equivalent to this in the L&D world. It meets us where we are and offers short bursts of information to reinforce material we’ve already learned or to teach us something new in a way that's accessible and relatable for our digital-era brains.

Companies are embracing this fresh, energizing learning format in growing numbers and it's easy to see why: microlearning allows for detailed analytics and easy-to-assess ROI, while reducing the strain on the organization. The flexibility of the microlearning platform breathes life into corporate training and continuing education that have, in many cases, become cumbersome and less effective in this fast-paced world. Imagine accessing your session on Cultureboarding on your phone as you commute (via public transportation--not while driving, of course) or whenever your schedule allows. That adaptability, along with the engaging way in which microlearning is presented, turns down the stress of “one more thing to do” and flips the “must-do” into an anticipated breather.

A perfect pair: microlearning and instructor-led training

For many, this independent learning is just the ticket to accommodate a busy schedule. However, there is some training that still benefits from face-to-face instruction and the human connection that comes with classroom learning. This is where instructor-led learning really shines. In these cases, microlearning can take a supportive role in providing helpful pre-learning prior to class or ongoing reinforcement and practice after it's over. It can complement conference-style learning by bringing the information chunk approach to re-energize your workforce in a measurable way.

A white paper developed by Chief Learning Officer Magazine reports that 87.6% of the organizations polled use Instructor-led training (ILT) as a primary learning modality or a hybrid that included ILT. This allows the opportunity for learners to dialogue with the instructor and colleagues, as well as opportunities for immediate feedback. Instructor-led training is important for the sake of connection, but the cost and logistics can become burdensome. That’s where the microlearning part of the equation brings balance. It allows for affordable anywhere-any time learning that can be complemented with group interaction when possible.

This dual approach allows for variety that best suits many organizations. Perhaps it’s important for participants to read through a microlearning module before arriving at a meeting. Or maybe there are break-out groups that continue discussion and report back to the class with action plans.

A key ingredient: The learning environment

It’s important to think more in terms of learning environments rather than learning programs, says Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte, an analyst and researcher. He shares that the most successful training organizations function as though their business is changing all the time whether it is or not. They are nimble and are constantly re-evaluating their practices. A dual approach to learning allows for this type of flexibility, for example, leaning in to one method more as content and audience needs evolve.

This is also demonstrated by the Five Moments of Learning Need as articulated by Conrad Gottfredson, PhD in psychology and technology.

The Five Moments of Learning Need:

  • learn for the first time (New),
  • learn more (More),
  • apply what you’ve learned (Apply),
  • when things go wrong (Problem Solving)
  • and when things change (Change).

This concept reiterates that the learning process is a continuing flow and supports the reinforcement inherent in microlearning. Learning doesn’t start and stop with a class, so why not give people nuggets of pertinent information on a regularly scheduled basis, then enhance that with opportunities to engage with others who have shared experiences. This enlivens the process for all, allowing trainers to tailor instructor-led material to best serve each particular group, and providing learners with a variety of ways to enhance their knowledge in practical ways.

Did You Know: According to Deloitte Human Capital Trends re-inventing careers and learning is the #2 issue in business today (#1 is reorganizing the company for digital business). Employees want a company-backed approach to updating their skills and learning quickly and, if it’s not offered, they would rather change jobs than remain with that company. For more on this, check out: Digital Learning: Ten Things We’ve Learned by Josh Bersin, global industry analyst.

Have you experimented with a blended microlearning and instructor-led training approach at your organization? Were the results what you expected or did they surprise you? We’d love to hear about what’s working and what needs additional solutions in your corporate learning culture.