How to Use Microlearning to Transform Your Soft Skills Training

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It’s fair to say that 2020 saw our workspaces becoming, well… a little empty! But if there’s one thing you don’t want empty in 2021, it’s your employee’s skill sets. It’s critical to develop new strategies and new skills designed for the future of flexible and remote work. And updating your soft skills training programme should be central on that list.

Soft skills might sound cute, but key focuses like adaptability, collaboration, and creativity are the base for good business and could be worth tens-of-thousands of pounds to your bottom line according to this Deloitte study. Now, with survival reliant on such fundamentals, soft skills development should be the cream to your tea, the chicken to your egg, the… you get the idea. Whatever you want to call it, 92% of hiring managers agree that soft skills are fundamental to job success, even pre-pandemic.

The question is, how exactly can you tackle this without overwhelming an already confused workforce? The answer, in large part, lies in video-based microlearning delivered through a reliable learning experience platform (LXP) or learning management system (LMS). That way, you can provide bite-sized chunks of soft skills training in a way that suits modern learners. If that sounds like something your company needs, keep reading to find out how microlearning can set fire to your soft skills at last.

Additional reading: For an in-depth guide on how to transform your learning programme, check out our free eBook — So, You Need a More Effective Learning Platform.

What the hell is microlearning?

Put simply, microlearning refers to small learning units. Why is that good news? Because modern-day employees are only able to focus 1% of their working week on training. Worse, there’s clear evidence that human attention spans are now around the 8-second mark. Yes, we officially retain information for shorter periods than a goldfish!

That pretty much puts traditional teaching on the backburner. Luckily, according to the National Credentialing Institute, knowledge transfer from microlearning is around 17% more efficient, with employees able to answer questions 28% faster. There’s also evidence that the easy-to-consume nature of microlearning helps to conquer Hermann Ebbinghaus’ so-called ‘forgetting curve’, which suggests that we forget 80% of what we learn within 30 days.

A graph showing the forgetting curve over 6 days

Other microlearning benefits include:

  • Learner-centric solutions
  • On-demand teaching
  • Affordability
  • Time-saving opportunities
  • High-impact learning

Critically, microlearning delivers tangible outcomes every time a learner engages. Rather than having to slog through hours of content to finally learn something, every microlearning module ends with a takeaway that learners can actually use. This dramatically reduces barriers to getting started, and creates a string of positive experiences that keep learners coming back time and again.

Key takeaway: If you want to provide the training your team needs right now, you needn’t look further than the magic of microlearning.

Content that compels

So, that’s microlearning in a nutshell, but you won’t be able to crack this until you work out the best way to implement those micro-modules. Ultimately where fast learning is concerned, there’s one keyword to remember, and that’s video.

You may think we’re a little biased on the video front, but there’s a good reason for that! We certainly aren’t the only ones, with more than 75% of employees saying they would rather watch a video than tackle chunky training texts, a fact that’s led to as many as 74% of trainers claiming video is the way forward.

So, you set up a camera and you’re good to go, right? Perhaps not. Any old video is never going to serve, and that’s where the pros come in. A professional company can provide the microlearning content you need at the click of a button, and they can do it with a whole lot of know-how.

Of course, like anything, microlearning is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and even within the professional sphere, you’ll need to consider content options such as:

Off the shelf content: As the name suggests, this is content you can pick straight off the metaphorical shelf. If you’re looking for general soft skills microlearning with easy implementation, off the shelf options might be for you. Benefits of this include:

  • Speed
  • Diverse application
  • Proof of past success

Bespoke content: If you feel your soft skills applications are too niche, why not try bespoke content? Here, a professional team will produce content 100% suited to you. This may take a little longer, but bespoke content certainly has benefits of its own, including:

  • Curated content
  • Driven learning outcomes
  • The personal touch

Key takeaway: 75% of employees value video in microlearning and either off the shelf or bespoke professional service is the best chance you have of engaging that need. Check out some of our sample off the shelf content, or get in touch and find out what kind of bespoke offerings are right for you.

Maximise the value of your learning platform using
these simple techniques.

Maximise the value of your learning platform using these simple techniques.

Resources AND courses

It’s no secret that a LOT of people learnt to make bread during lockdown, right? Do you think each budding baker signed up for PhDs? Of course not. They probably just found the fastest YouTube tutorial and popped one in the oven before you can say “ready, set, bake”.

The second time you went to make bread, however, you probably didn’t want to watch that same video — but you still wanted help. A quick bullet point guide or recipe probably became your go-to.

There is a current L&D buzz term — “resources not courses” — that is making the rounds, which we believe is both a great idea, and far too restrictive. This bread example is a perfect anecdote for why.

“Resources not courses” claims that short attention spans and busy lives elevate the importance of quick-access resources for learning. This is very true, but it also misses a broader point that some level of understanding is required to even comprehend a resource. And the narrative format of “courses” is an invaluable jumpstart to effective skills training. This is particularly true for soft-skills.

Courses are valuable when teaching soft skills for a variety of reasons, such as:

  1. Engaging first-time learners
  2. Getting a big idea across in a small amount of time
  3. Delivering the foundations necessary to use resources

Resources, however, are great for:

  1. Regular revision
  2. Guides for complex tasks
  3. In-depth research

Microlearning is also complementary to the resources approach to learning. Short videos mirror many of the quick-access elements of “resources”, and can help learners review material that doesn’t really make sense within a resource context. Particularly when it comes to learning soft skills, there is a lot of nuance that is aided by presentation.

For example, learning about leadership greatly benefits from seeing examples in action — the same goes for teamwork, collaboration, resilience and more. Microlearning videos provide an effective bedrock of your course material, and fill a critical resource role as well. Applying this small but mighty technique to soft-skills teaching means you’ll be able to bake that bread and eat it, too. Or at least, you’ll be able to appeal to short-attention spans without compromising on course benefits.

Key takeaway: Learning focuses are changing, but that doesn’t mean turning away from what works. Rather, soft skills microlearning unites the wonderful pairing that is resources AND courses. However, it is important to remember that video-based microlearning is just one component of a broader and comprehensive learning programme.

And what about access?

So you’ve got killer video content. Nothing could let your soft skills training down now… Well, nothing apart from a lack of access.

Your video content can be Oscar-worthy, but you’ll end up more shafted than Leonardo Decaprio if you don’t think about how employees can actually access it. This is especially crucial considering that incentivised, voluntary microlearning is really where the magic happens.

And the key to access? A reliable delivery system. Even before this year, 58% of employees preferred microlearning delivered through the right learning platform which really brought home that ‘ease-of-use’ message.

Luckily, professional content curators are also on-hand to provide the ideal platform, the two main options being:

  • LMS (Learning management system): This old management system offers soft skills training in a course-like way, using file systems and linear learning.
  • LXP (Learning experience platform): More suited to a modern and flexible learning system, this Netflix-style on-demand offering means you can focus on soft-skills with flexibility, self-learning, and incentives like gamification.

Key takeaway: Microlearning is useless if employees can’t access content, so make sure to implement either an LMS or LXP depending on your preferences. If you are starting from scratch, a more flexible LXP is the way to go. But, don’t get too hung up on the platform itself — simply providing online access is the key, and your existing LMS will work just fine if updated with the right content.

The long and short of soft skills microlearning

Soft skills are essential. If you feel like you’re behind that curve, you need to get on top fast. No method could get you to that endpoint sooner than the right microlearning content.

Here at Video Arts, we’ve been pairing companies and content for an astounding four+ decades. That means we know what your microlearning needs, and we’re on-hand to help your soft skills training win that Oscar at last… sort of. We’re here to make sure you develop an engaging and effective learning programme — get in touch if you want help.

The secret to effective learning experiences is engaging content.

The secret to effective learning experiences is engaging content.

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