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The Concept of Microlearning

The Concept of Microlearning

The Concept of Microlearning

The Concept of Microlearning

At Gyrus, we believe it is our duty to identify, discuss, and communicate our thoughts on upcoming industry trends. Today, we will evaluate microlearning and the potential it carries in reference to bolstering a learning program. To start the microlearning discussion we must first define what it is. Microlearning is a brief (less than 5 minute) learning component with a focus on a very particular learning object (specifically a skill, behavior, or compliance piece). This could be applicable to topics that do not need the granularity of a full course, or can be used as a supplement to learning exercises throughout a student’s learning within an organization. The concept of Microlearning is not that new. However, with the migration of learnings to more accessible on the go mobile learning (mLearning) platforms such as phones and tablets, their need becomes a bit more noticeable.

Picture if you will an eLearning that takes an hour of your employees’ time. Users have to watch it, then they have to answer some questions, then they have to click a couple things. But the topic of the learning is something exceedingly simple that is only being conveyed to the user for a compliance issue. In the business world the old adage “Time is money” still rings true through today. Now, imagine you can achieve the same certification results in under 5 minutes, using a learning that is not only engaging but entirely focused. The shorter learning will not only be better for the organization as a whole, but it will also allow for a higher completion percentage and adheres to our multi-focused daily life. Where our multitasking is so engrained in a workflow that we cannot allow more than 5 minutes on any given task before needing to refocus on a bigger picture.

Wait, it appeals to shortened attention spans and works great with our hustling staff who is constantly on the go? Why aren’t we doing this already? What’s the catch? Microlearning is not designed to be the end all be all form of learning that people may wish for it to be. It has been slowly established and vetted as a credible offering, with some adverse perceptions causing for a slow adoption. It is, however, a means to augment your current offerings, as well as further the reach of content which may be underutilized or unnecessarily complex. Because they’re so brief, microlearnings are quick to make, implement, and can be a real game changer for your training courses if implemented correctly.

So how can we ensure great microlearnings?

In order to address the need for a microlearning, refer to the following: As referenced throughout this post, one must evaluate the learning needs they wish to address with the microlearning. Is it something that lacks the complexity to warrant an entire eLearning? Can a student master the content in a single sitting? Are you yourself as an instructional designer capable of ripping out the fluff and unnecessary components in order to optimize the microlearning?

Microlearnings need to be concise in order to be effective. The moment the content becomes tainted with alternative concepts or distractions from the general topic, the effectiveness deteriorates sort of like a sidebar conversation you would have with one of your co-workers without the benefit of an immediate follow-up communication to serve as a reminder. As such, microlearnings must also be repeatable. When you implement a microlearning into your learning environment, ensure that the user is required to take it in an acceptable window that will focus them on the skills, compliance, or potential behavior that you are attempting to introduce.

In order to capitalize on the short attention span of your learners, the content must be created in a platform that will be accessible for mLearning. You may have the greatest microlearning in the world, but if it is required to solely be taken on a laptop or desktop, it will quickly be muddled in a sea of tabs and alternative work related processes.

How do I know if my microlearnings are working?

Because they’re so short and the topics are so specific, this would be a great time to survey a small portion of your user base. Those familiar with the previous cumbersome courses will beam a ray of positivity to the training. You will also most noticeably recognize a higher completion rate over a shorter period of time because it is a lot easier to make time for something as brief as a microlearning. As the formation of a microlearning is so new and a relatively inexact science, be sure to enlist feedback on how to possibly make the learnings more potent. As well as ways to convey a clearer message on the chosen subjects you are planning to implement.

If you are already implementing microlearnings in your course curriculum and training, be sure to reach out and tell us how they’re doing. We’d love to hear from you on your success stories, and ways in which we can further promote this interesting new(ish) concept. Also, any feedback on our social media pages would be much appreciated, as to whether you would wish us to further explore this exciting topic.

Academic vs. Corporate LMS – Where the Lines Blur

Academic vs. Corporate LMS – Where the Lines Blur

Academic vs. Corporate LMS – Where the Lines Blur

Academic vs. Corporate LMS – Where the Lines Blur

In the vastness that is the LMS market, there are two clear market segments; referring of course to the Academic and Corporate Learning Management Systems. Though these two approaches may be very different, it appears as if everyday solutions are providing a means to bring them closer than many would care to believe. In principle, these two types of systems offer the same foundation for their intended organization. This groundwork includes the ability to house, execute, and reward learning in either environment. Beyond this basic foundation, we quickly encounter immediate differences, and in order to understand where these two separate entities are beginning to merge, we must first take a brief moment to understand the severity of these variances.

The manner in which education is perceived varies uniquely between these two platforms. This is most identifiable in how the LMS presents itself and how the learnings are organized in each environment. In an Academic LMS, a learning path is defined by a variety of options that do not exist in the corporate realm. Collegiately, this could be a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, with intense emphasis on prerequisites and the specific output of grades. In the employee training realm, these learnings are typically grouped by position, department, region, and a variety of other factors. The goal output of educational LMS are forming a foundation of understanding on a chosen path of learning, whereas employee training is strictly ROI (Return on Investment).  

Organizational Definitions

In these two separate methods of LMS, some of the terms are the same, but are alarmingly different in implied meaning. Here we will take a quick look at critical vocabulary for each system type, and apply a written definition to further comprehend these differences.

Educational Terms

Syllabus: Overall course outline, with an overview of what is expected and links to corresponding materials.

Courses: We can define a course as an overall themed learning, with a set duration of weeks, comprised of many classes.

Classes: a furtherance of courses, allowing for instruction and defined building block learning style.

Tests: Typically tests are defined as examinations administrated to segment class learnings or personal learnings. Occurring at pre-defined increments during a course, culminating in a final exam, to ensure measurability of overall learning.

Quizzes: Occur weekly/bi-weekly to reinforce class assignments and instruction.

Gradebook: In the education realm, grades are very important. They allow teachers and administration to measure a student’s amount of correctness, and an overall average of cumulative courses. Which creates an all-encompassing student profile on individuals for reporting purposes.

Corporate Terms

Calendar: In the company realm, syllabi are not required. The work comes first and foremost and the training follows to improve career activity and function. As such, it is more important that a workload can be traceable from an administrative perspective. This in turns shapes the methods behind courses.

Courses: In the business realm courses are no longer many week events (with significant exceptions based upon organization), instead they are one or two days, with a span of specified time, or a collection of e-learnings to be completed by a certain time.

Classes: Often used interchangeably with “course”, as course instances may only include one class.

Tests: eLearnings occasionally accompanied by one final certification exam.

Certifications: Instead of a grade book, employees are measured by their certification output. A certification puts you into compliance

Duration of Studies

I’ve hinted at this in my above definitions; semesters, as opposed to business’ quarterly scale is one very noticeable difference. In the business setting there is no real defined ending (people can work at an organization for a year, of stay there for 40). Whereas in the educational role, the time scope is very well defined 4 years for an undergraduate, 13 years for k-2, and depending on post-graduate studies there are defined rules of duration. For each setting, files must be kept on hand for if a student/user swaps an internal organization or role, or changes their course of study. In the educational LMS realm, there are clearly defined grade levels, which coincide with a full year of usage. In the business world, it may be contingent to re-take a course yearly. Courses mean different things. In business, a course could be a single 3-hour instruction with an evaluation at the end. Whereas in the educational world, a course refers to many instances of a class, and all of the materials that fall under its umbrella.

Teaching Focus

What are the students getting out of this? In the academic world, the goal is to lay a foundation of knowledge of which a student can access later in life/ later in their career. In the business world, the typical goal is to introduce new materials in a defined and regimented way, reinforce policies, and create a structured actionable methodology which can be repeated. How are they supported? Reinforced in the educational class setting via instructor, multiple assessments, and social interaction with peers. In the business realm, this is more of a self-exploratory study. Find your way to an answer, own that answer, and make it promote the business as a whole.    

Where the Similarities Begin

  1. Operation: Baseline operations, How the LMS works, what people are being tested on, and how they interact with the content. Both areas are trending towards each other as new advancements are proving to create a better uptick in appealing to the user’s independent motivation.

 

  1. Brand: Branding is always important. The practice of quality branding allows users to be familiar with their environment, as well as extend the reach of an organization’s marketing practices! Branding options are comparable regardless of what type of system you are encountering.

 

  1. Social: The addition of social platforms is becoming a trend in the business world. Currently, the usage of discussion boards and wikis are best suited in the academic field, but this is changing. Professors’ talk to their students, students discuss learning topics, then work with one another to produce materials. The possibilities are quite enticing when discussing the corporate learning community.  

 

  1. Hosting: With the ever-changing demands of users, hosting requirements have changed as well. With an influx of commuters and the tendency for corporations to fall into multiple time zones. It is becoming more and more practical to have a reliable connection to the content from anywhere the user may be.

 

  1. APIs: Though used less in the academic realm, the existence of pre-built APIs aid in the functionality of most academic systems. The ability to diversify program hooks could go a long way in reshaping the usefulness of academic systems in the very near future.

 

  1. Single Sign On: As more and more educational tools become available, the need for SSO will become more necessary in academic environments. Currently, this is a principle focus of the corporate community.
How We Learn - Capitalize On Knowing

How We Learn – Capitalize On Knowing

How We Learn - Capitalize On Knowing

How We Learn – Capitalize On Knowing

Before I start, it is best to issue a few disclaimers:

  1. I am not a neuroscientist; this blog post is not written with appropriate scientific method.
  2. This post is written based on my personal understanding and could reflect deficiencies experienced in my own personal learning process.


To begin we should evaluate what a younger version of myself experienced in the learning process. As a child, picking up certain ideas and applying them just sort of came naturally to me. Whereas other ideas were best suited for the minds of my friends. But why? I used to think it was based on my ability to learn. Teachers used my IQ to recommend me for advanced courses, and such avenues awarded me the ability to attempt learning more difficult topics. But even then, I often felt my mind drifting off in class, doodled on notes, or encountered moments where I was not motivated enough to attempt to process the course content. Our learning instruction we receive from youth into early adulthood is fairly regimented; teachers are taught how to convey information to students, and for the most part, they engage in the same methodology across their efforts. Do the one-size fits all approach not work? The answer is:  it’s complicated. People learn at different paces and best with very different methodologies. Some people are able to see something once, and commit that piece of knowledge into their memory for the rest of their lives. While, others must spend days scrutinizing a tidbit of information to determine its worth, write the virtual book, and shelf it in the library stacks in their mind. The best instructors and course developers are able to evaluate how their student’s learn and cater their offerings to get the best out of the situation.

Scientists have embarked on the challenge of truly determining how we learn. This research may one day, reshape the conceptualization of the Learning Management System. The whole process is fascinating, and worthy of a quick Google search if you’re so inclined. However, for this post, my purpose is to let you know different ways in which people can learn and currently do. If you fall asleep on your book or learning materials, it turns out a magnet doesn’t fall out of your head and absorb the metallic printed material on the page. Also, the practice may aid in the process, but memorizing definitions for a quiz is most likely not going to yield long-term results. So, what are good practices we can instill in our corporate learning environments that will ensure the highest level of safety, the greatest output, and best compliance to corporate guidelines?

There are five major types of learning styles. People are said to either be an auditory (learn through hearing, can recollect a majority of information presented to them in lecture), visual (learn through seeing or reading, can recollect a majority of information presented to them in written/ presented form), tactile or kinesthetic (learn through hand’s on training, this is how a process is done from start to finish), global (big picture first – attribute detail when needed) or Analytic learners (Detailed oriented, like hearing or seeing as much information as possible in reference to processes or content). I personally am a bit of a hybrid, I start as a global learner and apply an analytical style of learning when I find topics that interest me. But I’m also very adept to visual learning. If I read or see something, then there is a good chance I will be able to recall important factors of what was presented. Knowing this has aided me immensely in my quest for knowledge. Knowing what style your employees are can yield unexpected positive outcomes in your business process. So how do we cater to these five major types of learning styles?

Know they exist

  • Be open to the idea that even in the corporate world, people are not going to be completely onboard with your style of learning.
  • Do not be afraid to survey your department: People know how they like to learn. If John in Marketing learns best via Instructor-Lead training, and Suzy in Document Control works best in an impersonal self-instructed pathway. It is best to accommodate their needs.
  • Work with individuals who need more personal attention. As the sum of knowledge in your department can one day be the difference in universal sales across channels, to observing breaks in the chain.

Use various forms of media

  • YouTube videos are easy, and often times, there is a great video available in relation to what you would like to instruct about.
  • E-Learnings can quickly instruct and measure user issues with content, and let you know what further actions may be necessary.
  • Images are a great way to reinforce verbalized and written processes.
  • Consider Instructor lead training to add the human effect of seeing learning styles first hand.

Convey teachings in a manner that doesn’t sound like a dictionary definition

  • Use language that relates to the user. Why do I care about 55 oranges and 16 coconuts?
  • Be able to write what you want the user to learn in a plain language. Testing on the definition of a compliance article does not ensure that the user understands that article of compliance.
  • Use gamification to incentivize users. Learning differences in some ways can be overcome via a great deal of effort. If users obtain results from appeasing their competitive streak, then, by all means, this should be incorporated in your learning designs.

Join me as I continue to tackle the realm of learning and best relate these processes and suggestions to the industry. Knowing how we learn, can only support our abilities to better serve our employees, clients, and stakeholders.

Elearning vs Classroom Training – Let’s Understand Their Pros and Cons

Elearning vs Classroom TrainingElearning is the new and inexpensive alternative to classroom training, which is becoming more popular and preferred method among organizations.

However, the debate on the effectiveness of eLearning compared to classroom training is often a subject of interest among learning and training professionals. Some prefer the real-time interaction with an instructor while others like the flexibility brought by eLearning. Both eLearning and classroom training methods share common attributes, however, eLearning is proving to be a more cost-effective and flexible method for organizations.

Let’s understand the pros and cons of both eLearning and classroom training:

Learning Context:

One of the main differences between eLearning and classroom training is that classroom training allows learners to actively interact, engage with instructors and other fellow learners. The instructor can move the learners around, group them in different ways in order to provide the most effective learning experience. In an eLearning environment, learners mostly work in isolation and are required to be self- driven. Virtual classroom training, video training, and other similar elements are being used to bring the human element in the world of eLearning, however, it still may not bring the feel and the benefits of being with a live instructor in the same room.

Cost Difference:

Another major difference is the cost effectiveness of eLearning and classroom training. It is estimated that organizations save about 50% to 70% on training when they introduce eLearning over instructor-led training due to reduced travel costs and non-requirement of logistics. Classroom training requires the presence of an instructor each and every time the course is supposed to be delivered, whereas once eLearning is developed, it can be used multiple times without any additional cost.

Availability and Flexibility:

Elearning can be accessible to the employees 24/7. Employees across the globe can take an eLearning course at their own pace, preferred time and even place. On the other side, classroom training is only available at a fixed time and day. One instructor can manage only one location and a limited number of employees at one point of time.

Reporting and Monitoring:

This is one aspect where eLearning easily surpasses the benefits of classroom training. The tracking of learners’ progress in a classroom training setting is usually done manually and often gives inaccurate results. On the other hand, eLearning courses are mostly delivered on the Learning Management Systems (LMS), which allows tracking and monitoring of learners’ progress, usage, and other parameters automatically in an efficient manner.

Content and Delivery Consistency:

Each instructor comes with his/her own style of training and content delivery and hence consistency can be a concern with classroom content. With eLearning, the course content and delivery is exactly the same each time. With eLearning, you can ensure standardized process and consistency in the delivery of content, which is difficult to attain in classroom training even if the same instructor delivers the training at different locations and with different groups.

Debunking Misconceptions about Mobile Learning

Mobile LearningMore than half of the world’s population now has a mobile subscription. The Mobile Economy report by GSMA intelligence indicates that an additional one billion subscribers are predicted by 2020, taking the global penetration rate to approximately 60%. . Mobile training not only offers learning on-the-go, but also allows learners to gain an instant access to information whenever and wherever they need it. However, there is often a misunderstanding on mobile learning capabilities and its usage for corporate learning and training.

Let us look at some of the common misconceptions about mobile learning or m-learning through this blog:

Mobile Learning Means Learning via Mobile Phones

While it is true, that a mobile phone can be used for mobile learning, it is not the only device that can be utilized. One can use a variety of handheld devices such as netbooks, tablet computers, wearable devices, e-readers (kindle for example), etc. as mobile learning tools. Mobile learning targets all such devices equally and learners can use any of these various mobile devices for learning.

Mobile Learning Is Used to Provide E-Learning on Mobile Devices

While a mobile device is used to provide online learning, it doesn’t imply that you will be doing the same kind of e-Learning that you would do using your laptop or desktop. Mobile learning differs from e-learning in terms of the size of courses that can (or should) be provided on mobile devices as well as the context in which mobile learning is accessed. The smaller screen (in most cases) and touch based interaction demands a change in the size of the course and the way it is being presented.  If your current content is not mobile friendly, you cannot replicate it for mobile learning purpose.

Mobile Learning Signifies Learning on the Move

While, it implies learning on-the-go, it is not a prerequisite for mobile learning. Learners can engage in mobile learning even when they are not travelling. The “mobile” in mobile learning also focusses on the devices being used along with the learner’s mobility. Learners have the flexibility and ease of learning through a mobile device and it does not matter whether they are at home, office, etc. or travelling.

Mobile Learning Is Not Serious Learning

People presume that smaller screens will not facilitate serious learning and mobile learning attracts distraction. This is not true as mobile learning captures micro-learning approach, which makes it easier for learners to initiate, complete, and absorb learning courses at a time and place convenient to them. And, if we talk about the distractions, it can be there in a classroom training setting as well. It is difficult to exactly find out how and what distracts each individual learners.

Mobile Learning is Not Secure

This is partially true as it is easier to lose a mobile device especially when learners are travelling and this can heavily compromise a company’s intellectual data. However, advanced security solutions coupled with latest mobile technologies allows you to deliver a secured and safe content. Companies can encrypt the content on any device as well as the browser in order to ensure a secure, safe connection. Security settings such as password protection, remote wipe/erasing of data, encryption are minimizing the security risk associated with mobile learning.

 

 

 

The Boundaries of Learning: Does Your LMS Cater to International Learners?

Learning has no boundaries. This does not only mean that it has no knowledge boundaries—meaning we never truly stop learning—but this also applies to physical boundaries. Learning in the workplace occurs everywhere, in every department, and in every location. Since the learning process can be so widespread, it’s critical that you’re learning management system is able to accommodate for this kind of international learning (we will call it distance learning).

Distance learning refers to the delivery of education to learners who are not physically present in a traditional learning environment, where learners and the information source are often separated by time and/or distance.* Distance learning is not a new concept, however the ability to educate learners in various locations has been made increasingly easier thanks to technology. An LMS can also open up the opportunity to build a relationship with learners in your organization that are far away in distance.

If your organization has learners across the globe, you’ll want to make sure you can deliver training to these learners as well as those who are in your home country.  One major benefit you’ll want to make sure your learning management system includes is a multilingual capability. Can the software be easily translated into the learner’s native or preferred language? The more translation languages available, the better you will be able to accommodate for learners during training. A web-based product can also makes learning more convenient for your learners because they will be able to access the software virtually anytime from any location (which accommodates for different time zones).

Customer support is critical for international learners. Does your software vendor consider that some of your learners may be in different locations and different time zones? It’s important that these learners get the support that they need as often as the other learners in the organization. A vendor that provides multiple channels of support, such as live chat, phone, email, and/or support tickets is available to respond to all of your learners when necessary.

An LMS like GyrusAim is an ideal solution for international companies because of its ability to deliver to any learner, regardless of where they are located. It is scalable software that is great for companies who are looking to build a global presence in the future. If you’re looking to grow your organization’s global presence in the future (or improve your current relationship with your global learners), look for an learning management system that can grow with you toward success.

 

* Information provided by Wikipedia

Blended Learning

The days of learning being solely instructor led are gone forever. Today we have multiple sources of learning, even with the same content.

The best way to learn a particular piece of content depends on the time, the place, the learner, and the urgency. Blended Learning may be a video, an online course, or an instructor-led course. The key is to have the proper content available in the best form to suit the learner at that time. Course content has advanced to the use of multiple media within the same course. Courses now combine eLearning, video, instructor-led, and both hard and soft document learning objects leading to a complex matrix that must be assembled and managed.

Your LMS should handle all of this for you.

The core is a learning object. A learning object is the smallest information nugget and is designed to provide the learner with one skill at one level. A learning object never has multiple skills and never has multiple levels for one skill. A learning object has one medium, such as eLearning, instructor-led, and video. Courses then, are a collection of learning objects. A course on Microsoft Excel would contain several learning objects for Excel fundamentals, Excel pivot tables, and Excel macros for example. This then becomes the agenda for the Excel course.

Using learning objects inside of a course adds some interesting and useful options. For example, the GyrusAim learning management system allows for drop-ins to take a part of a course. Instead of making a learner sit through five learning objects as part of a course, he could attend only the learning object that applies to the skill that he needs to acquire. This reduces the burden on the learner, the instructor, and the work flow as the training lessens the worker’s time away from work.

A learning object can have a prerequisite. The prerequisite is not for a course or even another learning object however. The prerequisite for a learning object is a particular proficiency in a skill. A learning object is not concerned with how the learner acquired the skill, just that there is a certain expectation of what the skill proficiency of the learner is before attending the learning object. This makes the learning more effective, not just for the learner, but also for the other learners if it is an instructor-led learning object.