However, this hyper-ease of accessing large amounts of material has had negative impacts on human cognition, one of which being a rapidly decreasing attention span. In fact, since 2000, the human attention span has shrunk from an average of 12 seconds to around 8.25 seconds, officially making our attention span shorter than a goldfish’s – averaging around 9 seconds.
The expansive increase in information has not only impacted our attention, but our memory as well. It’s been reported that humans are becoming more forgetful and increasingly more distracted. Modern professionals report checking their email up to 30 times an hour and picking up their phone around 1500 times in a week! No wonder our minds are feeling fuller and our memory is feeling more stretched.
To adapt to these changes, businesses are making major shifts in how they present information in order to stay relevant and attractive to distracted minds. Though, when it comes to the employees, they are becoming increasingly unengaged and disempowered in their work, as most report feelings of overwhelm with the amount of information they are required to absorb. It is exactly this cognitive overwhelm that is leading to lower employee motivation and training effectiveness in modern businesses. Let us look closer into cognitive overload and how it manifests itself in learning environments.
Cognitive overwhelm can be described as the consequential feeling of having “too much” to process at one time. When our minds are bombarded with copious types of information, we can easily get overloaded and suffer from feelings of stress, anxiety and low self-confidence.
Modern learners are asked to absorb ample amounts of data from a variety of sources, whilst simultaneously integrating past, learned experiences. All this in addition to picking up new technologies and strategies that are being introduced within business and organizations every day. Online learners suffer most from this cognitive overwhelm, as they must encounter extraneous online information before even login into their dedicated training platform – just think of how many emails, pop-ups and banners you see on your way to a work page or company intranet.
Of course, the employees aren’t at fault for this; unfocused training presentations that lack context or real-world frameworks only further cloud the learner’s mind and make it difficult for them to remain focused on the most important information. This information overload is changing how humans think, learn and operate. Therefore, it is expected that educators and leaders must change how they offer their relevant material to learners and employees. One of these shifts in information presentation is shown through the advent of Microlearning.
One of the largest contributing factors to cognitive overwhelm is the amount of information delivered to learners at a given time. Macrolearning strategies have been the norm in education for decades, focusing on the delivery of large amounts of information in order to provide the learner with the ‘whole picture’ of a situation.
In opposition of this – and in response to shrinking attention spans – Microlearning has developed as learning that is delivered in shorter, bite-size pieces such as infographics, videos, short quizzes and interactive PDFs. This compressing of information makes the material more digestible for the modern learner and actually makes the transfer of learning up to 17% more efficient.
So, instead of L&D teams giving employees long-winded paragraphs of text to memorize, they might use a microlearning-friendly format of a vibrant infographic that highlights the most important facts and figures. Not only do 94% of L&D professionals favor this type of training method because it can speed up content development by 300%, but also because microlearning has shown to create 50% more engagement from employees and modern learners.
In this way, both learners and organizations are gaining back valuable time and attention by integrating microlearning techniques into their business training structures. More specifically, with microlearning structures, the modern learner is able to:
- Spend more time engaging with and exercising the training they are provided
- Learn in a customized and flexible way that fosters more engagement and creativity
- Release themselves from stressful learning environments, improving their health, happiness and overall productivity
- Stay competitive and adaptable to the ever-changing work environment, boosting self-confidence and professional agility
Microlearning techniques provide ease for overloaded learners by delivering focused, condensed content to cut out the clutter. When microlearning approaches are integrated into online training platforms, learning becomes more flexible, agile and accessible, all the important makings of a modern digital workplace. Next, we will look at exactly how focused microlearning approaches are being integrated into learning platforms to create real improvements in learning environments.
Learning Management Systems (LMS), such as LMS365, allow L&D teams to customize company training content in a way that best serves their employees and their organizational education. When an LMS – which is comprised of interactive documentation, group communication tools, and streamlined training programs – integrates microlearning approaches, their employees are able to get more experience, better training and have more fun within the system.
Here are three real ways that an agile LMS utilizing microlearning techniques can promote learners’ success:
- On-the-go Learning Capabilities: By catering to the flexibility and mobility of our lives, an LMS allow people to learn on their time, whether it be on their commute home or on a walk. Learners can find the time and space best for them and always have access to important learning material through integrated mobile applications available through the LMS.
- Microsoft communications tool, Teams: By incorporating microlearning methods into this system, your organizational teams have a dedicated space where they can find all necessary information for a specific project. Bonus, is that employees can then collaborate with members of that team, creating more structured learning environment and eliminating extraneous or distracting information not connected to task at hand. This, all being possible in one integrated Teams and LMS.
- Engaging Video Storytelling: Did you know that 59% of senior executives reported that they would rather watch a video than read a block of text? With the collaboration of an LMS and microlearning approaches, it’s easy to create engaging video content that use responsive designs to help learners absorb more information. Effective videos are shown to be between only 2-5 minutes, so it’s more accessible for L&D teams to create these more interactive pieces of content and these videos can be placed in determined sections of the LMS so learners know exactly where to look to find the information they require.
The human attention span might be shrinking, but our need for critical information is not slowing down anytime soon. Therefore, it is best that we seek to combat the effects of our fast-paced world and cater to the modern learners who crave flexibility, accessibility and simplicity.
Microlearning methods are shown to be here to stay, being integrated into more mobile learning apps and AI-supported programs. Becoming an adopter of these beneficial microlearning strategies can allow your L&D team to support modern learners and those with diverse learning styles. And with the combined efficiency of an LMS, you can prevent cognitive overwhelm and promote a more adaptable, connected workforce of empowered employees.