In today’s cycle of life, there are just too many things that need to get done in any given day. There’s an innate pressure to remain on top of your game at all times, whether it’s with colleagues or with friends and family.
You can easily become inundated with notifications popping up every few minutes on your desktop, laptop, or mobile screen. You'll find yourself switching between new projects, old projects, and projects in the pipeline, and you'll still feel pressured to improve yourself as a professional. That’s not to mention the pressure you may feel in your off-time. People require you to be constantly “on”, in every aspect of your life that you share.
How and when is it possible then to study new things and learn new skills, to increase your value to the world? How to deal with tasks that disrupt the rhythm and find the time to engage in development and learning?
The Myth of Studying for Longer Hours
Traditionally, people have adopted macrolearning. This is when you absorb big chunks of information for a certain period of time, after a prolonged and focused study. You certainly have done that in school before. It’s also known as “cramming”. Macrolearning has its benefits and has proven success in all sorts of scenarios, such as when you start a new role in a business, or you access a new source material in college.
Microlearning, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish. Due to the understanding of the human brain and thanks to neuroscience, we know a little bit more about how our brains operate best when it comes to absorbing new information. Interestingly, the brain prefers this information in small and repetitive bits, rather than larger chunks.
This sits perfectly in today’s world, a world that discourages long periods of focus. Whether you're receiving a text, someone just sent you an IM, there's a knock on the door, anything can interrupt these long sessions. According to Basex research, interruptions cost the U.S. economy $588 billion a year. All those “Got a minute?” interruptions are undermining our ability to effectively and efficiently complete our work.
Connecting to a workplace in this way doesn't encourage macrolearning. It actually benefits microlearning. This is because we've already developed that short attention span and now we need to work on focusing deeply. Not longer, but deeper and uninterrupted.
The Difference Between Focused and Unfocused
Staying focused is such an important part of learning anything new. But when you focus excessively, you turn off your brain's imagining circuits, which can impact your brain's planning to reach your goal. You exhaust your brain and it makes you feel tired, impulsive, carefree, and more inclined to make suboptimal decisions. Also, when tired, you're unable to be as effective as you normally are when you are fresh, allowing less information to be used and absorbed. When you compare that to learning in short bursts over spread out instances, you are able to retain it in your short-term memory easier, thus committing to your long-term memory easier too.
Studies show that employees can focus on average for 11 minutes without being interrupted by an external stimulus. And it takes about 25 minutes (23 minutes and 15 seconds, to be exact) to regain focus after an interruption, according to Gloria Mark, who studies digital distraction at the University of California.
So, not only will you struggle to stay focused for hours at a time, the fact of the matter is that you may not need to. Evidence shows that quick, focused bursts will help you get the job done, often quicker and with more efficiency. Spaced out learning is key to retaining information better and to recalling it quicker when you need to apply it in practice.
Macrolearning and Microlearning Compared
Learning is subjective, and honestly hard for anyone to tell you which method is better. However, here's a brief comparison between the two, in order to choose what suits you best in full knowledge of the facts.
Macrolearning can be more attributed to entire courses over a long period of time, seeing an end goal in the distance and getting there by “cramming” when the time gets near to write a test or exam. Macrolearning enters the world of schools and colleges. It’s the kind of learning that you can attribute by means of formal training. It involves an instructor or course coach, and information that is released to you in its entirety. It’s then up to you to learn, repeat and retain this information however you choose to do it. Whether you write it down, highlight course material or simply just sit there and absorb it.
Over time, you'll be quizzed and be given assignments to demonstrate that you fully understand the course material, at which time, you'll complete that course and will now have a qualification saying that you can perform in a job or role.
Microlearning does very much the same, except it addresses all of the shortfalls of macrolearning and it builds on all empirical evidence science has achieved on our brain's neural activity, attention span and memory. Yes, you'll still learn, you'll still be quizzed and tested, and you'll soon be able to earn the qualification. But in the interim, you'll have learned all of the course specifics in your own time, piece by piece. You'll get tested on information that's fresh in your brain and you'll be able to do so using digital content that has been proven successful by thousands of students before you.
With microlearning, you're learning in chunks that you can absorb whenever the mood strikes. It will require that you take time out of your schedule to learn small stints of applicable knowledge on a more repetitive basis. The bright side is that this is less than 10 minutes per learning task, so it's something that everyone can afford to do.
How We Can Learn Better
Companies around the globe have been seeing this challenge when trying to put employees through training sessions. They also have seen that the traditional training method, where employees were sent away or taken for long hours or days at a time to pick up new information, just doesn’t work. As it was previously proven.
Instead, turning the training into something more feasible and more digestible to the trainees, this type of learning can occur, especially when employees carry their office with them all the time, on their smartphone.
With microlearning, employees can get involved in training and still upskill themselves without having to put so much time aside. With the spacing effect, employees can put between 3 and 7 minutes aside for a quick and effective training session. Anything longer than 20 minutes, no longer qualifies.
Within that time, with the help of gamification, employees have the chance to feel like they're earning rewards, leveling up and unlocking new features. This goes hand in hand with positive peer pressure, where people are creating groups across companies and competing with each other. Employees can also get real-time feedback from trainers or managers to seize coachable moments, and to improve the learning experience as a whole.
Integrating the Process into Everyday Work Life
The best part about microlearning is that you don't need to be in a specific place, you can take a few minutes whenever you like, and best of all, you're improving your skills on the go. The second best is that it will get you into the habit of learning, a skill that should be lifelong. Why not use that time to learn?
Whether you are an employee or an employer, with Code of Talent's methodology of microlearning and gamification, this type of training will be second nature in no time. Employees and trainers will get to choose from 8 different types of learning missions and will be able to engage in 3 to 7-minute sessions. Simply accepting the microlearning challenges will provide learners this opportunity, along with real-time feedback, on knowledge they can absorb whenever they choose.
The microlearning and gamification approach that Code of Talent supplies can cut learning & development costs by up to 50%. This results in a 20% increment in information retention, ensuring that employees are learning and bettering themselves. People will learn new skills in their own time and will be able to apply them far more effectively than before. This perk will cost the company half the price of regular training too!
Learn better and faster, at your own pace to give yourself the knowledge you need to succeed. There's a good reason why Code of Talent has a 92% engagement level, with 89% course completion. It's because this type of learning works. In allowing employees to learn at their own pace, it's allowed companies to reduce the cost of training, while increasing the speed of development by 300% compared to traditional courses.