In the Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) world, mandatory training is likely to be an important and fixed component of any learning program. Indeed, regulators are making increasing demands in this area by adding to the list of mandatory training topics. Now is therefore a good time to reflect on new and creative ways of meeting the mandatory training challenge.
You might not think microlearning for mandatory training is an obvious learning design strategy. But when it’s combined with a considered learning program, it can have more benefits than you might have considered.
Microlearning has been a growing eLearning trend over the past few years, enabled by the rise of mobile-optimized learning content and an incoming generation of learners who are used to consuming shorter chunks of content.
Microlearning and Millennials
Microlearning is perceived by many as the preferred learning solution for supposedly short attention-spanned Millennials and a great tool for upskilling workers in short, timed bursts as they progress through their career.
However, microlearning has generally been seen as less useful for mandatory training, which needs to be completed every year, or when a new employee starts. In this context, it makes good business sense to have a course that achieves compliance in one go, and can simply be updated every year to account for any regulatory updates.
Macrolearning vs. Microlearning for Mandatory Training
Josh Bersin makes the distinction between microlearning and ‘macrolearning’. He defines macrolearning as a more traditional, one-off course format, often accessed via an LMS, and microlearning as short, episodic content delivered in short bursts over time, often through mobile devices.
The two forms don’t have to exist in isolation. In fact, they can be even more effective together. Microlearning can partner with more macrolearning interventions to deliver sustained learning and ‘bed in’ key learning points and behaviors.
When it comes to compliance, getting your learners to complete the training is often the main priority. Tick the box and forget about it for another year. But in today’s regulatory landscape, compliance is more than a mandatory requirement: it’s something that should be embedded within your organization’s culture from top to bottom.
Taking a microlearning approach to training is the perfect way to achieve this goal.
Implementing Microlearning for Mandatory Training
Microlearning for mandatory training should complement more macrolearning interventions. If you’re thinking about implementing microlearning into a wider learning strategy or program, consider the following aspects to achieve optimum results:
This is particularly key for mandatory training, where your learners’ requirements may be quite different. Designing with a consideration of the context or mindset with which your trainees approach your learning will result in higher engagement.
For example, new starters will be coming to your content with fresh eyes and, potentially, will be more invested in completing the learning to get up to speed.
This is the best time for macrolearning, as you can capitalize on these higher engagement levels to help learners achieve basic compliance with longer courses or suites of modules.
That said, it’s still key to focus on the basics and avoid overloading your new employees with reams of policies and regulation detail. This is where microlearning can be beneficial.
Once your new starters have completed their mandatory training, follow up with microlearning. This could be short videos or infographics that target behavioral change, or mini-modules that cover more complex elements with scenario-based learning or even games.
For learners who are revisiting learning for the second or third year in a row, microlearning can be really effective at combating flagging engagement levels and achieving behavioral change.
In this context, you could consider the following strategy:
First, learners complete a test ahead of revisiting any annual mandatory learning. If they can pass, they do not need to complete the learning again. This adaptive approach targets learning effectively and mitigates against learner fatigue.
Then make microlearning available. This content can be ‘refresher’ content, or it can focus on handy tips aimed at embedding compliant behavior across the organization as a standard. For example, you might have a series of short animations to remind learners of safe behaviors when it comes to handling data. Or you could make mini-modules available that focus on some of the intricacies of conflicts of interest—an area that learners may need follow-up ‘nudges’ on over time.
When and how you release microlearning is also an important consideration in your learning strategy.
The benefit of microlearning is that it gives learners more flexibility around when they complete it, as it doesn’t require a concentrated time commitment.
But you can also leverage that flexibility to ensure your learning has the best impact. Phase the release of your content over time to keep up knowledge retention or target specific points in your learner’s journey when they’re most likely to benefit. A thirty-minute course can be broken down into a series of shorter modules; a growing trend for GRC training.
Microlearning is also a potent weapon in keeping up to date with regulatory changes outside of what are often yearly updates to larger mandatory training courses. If new regulations or policy updates are released, you can use microlearning to delivered targeted learning that keeps your learners compliant throughout the year.
Additionally, it’s often the case that news stories in compliance can highlight vulnerabilities in key areas. These are perfect situations to capitalize on—microlearning that reinforces data protection in the light of a high-profile breach is likely to have a strong impact on your learners.
Phased delivery or just-in-time learning is most effective when it can be accessed easily and quickly. Ensure your learning can be accessed on mobile devices or via a mobile-ready LMS for maximum benefit.