Micro-training has become a hot topic in professional education. Organizations and educators alike are recognizing micro-training as an opportunity to deliver learning in a way that can improve learner engagement, make the transfer of learning more efficient, and provide an experience many learners prefer.

Simply defined, micro-training is the delivery of brief, targeted learning events designed to efficiently achieve very specific outcomes. In this article, we will break down three key reasons to consider incorporating micro-training into your professional education program.  

Micro-Training Helps Learners Achieve Specific Outcomes Quickly

Imagine sitting down at a piano for the first time with the goal of learning to perform  Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. You would become frustrated pretty quickly. Thankfully, that’s not how we teach people to play musical instruments. Instead, we start with small lessons. You learn how to sit and place your hands, then you learn the basic music theory. You then learn simple melodies and so on. Each lesson along the way has a very specific goal and builds upon prior lessons. Mastering each of these building blocks represents a small accomplishment on the way to acquiring the knowledge and skill to play whatever you want.  

There’s a feeling of accomplishment learners experience when they master something new. Micro-training helps learners achieve validating results more frequently. By breaking learning into small lessons, you create more opportunities for achievement for learners along the way, and that keeps them motivated to continue.

Learners Prefer Micro-Training

Learners’ preference for micro-training has led some to jump to the conclusion that the way we learn has somehow changed. Others assume technology and media have directly influenced the attention spans of learners. There is no substantive evidence to support such claims. The fact remains that our brains have a limited capacity to interpret and retain new information. Learners zone out during long, monotonous lectures, but that’s nothing new. Learners’ preference for micro-training has more to do with its ability to retain their interest.

Good content remains the basis for effective instruction. How you choose to deliver that content can make the difference when it comes to a learner’s likelihood of success. A learner could spend three hours reading a research paper on a topic or watching a movie about it. Most would prefer the latter. Because micro-training delivers the content in a way our brains are designed to operate, learners are more likely to acquire and retain the knowledge we deliver.   

Micro-Training Improves the Instructor’s Awareness of Efficacy

Oftentimes, we teach by laying a foundation of knowledge and then building upon it. As we continue to build upon prior lessons, it becomes critical that students understand what we are teaching—their ability to learn the next concepts depends on understanding the previous one. Instructors can more easily identify how well students are progressing in their comprehension when instruction is broken up into smaller pieces. If we level set along the way, we can remediate in a more timely fashion and ensure we aren’t leaving learners behind.

Our learners come to us from all walks of life with varying backgrounds and experiences. Teaching to such a broad audience can at times be challenging. Micro-training allows you to break up learning events and ensure all learners are keeping up and have acquired the requisite knowledge to move on.  

Micro-training isn’t a magic bullet. It’s not applicable to all learning situations. But for the situations it is applicable to, it’s quickly becoming recognized as an incredibly effective, learner-centric way to approach learning design.