As we delve deeper into understanding different mechanisms and ways to enhance nurse learner engagement, I would be remiss if I didn't touch upon microlearning. As the name implies, microlearning is basically delivering our educational content in small, bite-size, easy to digest, chunks. It has also been referred to as short-term activities. Now, the terms "small", "easily digestible" and "bite-size" may be very subjective depending on the Educator, but I am referring to the universal definition of small or short; the opposite of the hour long presentations that we are often delivering via lecture...or the 100-slide, text-rich PowerPoint presentations that many Educators are working tirelessly to finish and place online for elearning, only to notice that barely any of our learners are engaged, taking ownership of the content and actually retaining it. Nursing is chock full of information that has to be delivered in a finite span of time for either nursing students or nurses in practice. We have a lot of content to deliver, so how do we do this in a way that is meaningful, memorable, not as labor intensive (depending on how you look at it) and gets us our return on investment? Enter...Microlearning!
One of the best ways to utilize microlearning is starting with content that the nurse learner already knows, but needs a light refresher, whether its annually, every 6 months, etc. Instead of having the learner review the entire original module, with all the great information you poured into it (which they have to finish reviewing and consuming in a short period of time) create a version that is shorter, easier to digest and will boost their compliance and completion of the learning exponentially. That is essentially what microlearning is all about. In a previous blog, I talked about The Modern Learner. The Modern Learner transcends the generation mix we are seeing in Nursing today. This is referring to the fact that with so many other ways to access, process and learn information, learning can now be taken to go! Our learners need fast, easy access to required content. In order for that to happen, it needs to be bite-sized content. This has also been considered to be a very learner-centric pedagogy, in that often times microlearning is asynchronous, which allows the learner the control of when, where and how they will access the information. Microlearning helps breakdown the copious amounts of information our nurse learners are required to take in, which helps them process and retain the information better. The learner can then take the small bits of information and make connections, essential for critical thinking and clinical reasoning.
Micro and Mobile Learning: Made for each other
Mobile learning and microlearning often go hand in hand because content that is scaled down to the micro level is usually accessed on a mobile device. The element of anywhere, anytime education accessibility couldn't be better demonstrated than with micro and mobile learning. Just-in-time training is also often used interchangeably with microlearning. Originally used in the automotive industry, Nursing is all to familiar with this type of training, which provides immediate information, when its needed. It works specifically well for nurses and support nursing staff, as we are the main point of care providers for the patient.
So what does this mean for Nursing Education and Professional development? Microlearning is mentioned few and far apart in the Nursing literature, specifically nursing professional development literature, which is concerning to me. I decided to write about this topic as I thought it was an important and flourishing form of education delivery, that has been around for at least the past 5 years, if not more, but Nursing really does not harness the possibilities that microlearning can bring to the table. According to De Gagne, Park & Kim (2019), even though microlearning has been shown to have positive effects on health profession education (Nursing included), there is still a level of discomfort with this type of pedagogy as well as "technological inequalities". There are a multitude of factors that build the case for why we should be integrating microlearning into our content development and delivery plan for Nursing Education and Professional Development:
Busier schedules-nurses are expected to hit the ground running. What better way to meet them where they are than with short bursts of much needed information for them to connect with and transfer to provide better patient care.
Distractions-we are in the age of distractions. Push notifications, bells, whistles, alerts, the list is endless. Long educational sessions do not cater to modern day learning. Going lean with the content, as is done with microlearning, is not only engaging (generates more than 50% engagement) but effective.
Better retention and completion compliance-it is a known fact that we learn better in smaller chunks than with larger amounts of content. Key information gets lost, leading to decrease in skills and performance.
In what ways can we use microlearning?
Now time for the good part! How can we effectively use microlearning for Nursing education and professional development? What about our "deskless" remote nurses in home care? We need to meet them where they are, literally and figuratively. Check out some of these tips:
Video is king-learners of today love video! On YouTube alone, people watch over a billion hours of video daily and 70% of this is done on a mobile device. Scale your video to optimize it for the small screen. Keep them short and sweet-the epitomy of microlearning. You will have competing distractions in terms of other external factors that will grab your learners attention so you have to decide how you will keep them on your content
Address one objective at a time-we are notorious as Educators for having 3-5 if not more learning objectives. We cant do that with microlearning. We can only address one pain point at a time
Use different visuals-perhaps you can use video with some small amounts of text or animations
Make it interactive-require your learner to do something. Active learning immerses them in the content, no matter how short it is while simultaneously assessing their knowledge. Use unfolding case studies that replicate real-world issues and have it unfold or unwind depending on the learners answers.
With so many ways to tackle microlearning, why wouldnt we give it more of a try in Nursing Education and Professional Development? For more tips or help with using microlearning for your staff or students, contact me for a free phone consultation!*
*Free consultations are limited to 30 minutes.
Andriotis, N. (2019 October 28). How To Optimize Microlearning Videos for Mobile Learning. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/how-optimize-microlearning-videos-mobile-learning
De Gagne JC, Park HK, Hall K, Woodward A, Yamane S, & Kim SS. (2019). Microlearning in Health Professions Education: Scoping Review
JMIR Medical Education, 5(2)
Janoska, L. (2019 October 29). What is Microlearning and How Does It Drive Employee Engagement? Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/microlearning-drive-employee-engagement
Panday, A. (2019 September 17). How To Enhance Induction And Onboarding Training With Mobile Learning. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/induction-and-onboarding-training-with-mobile-learning
Tine Health (2017 March 13). How Microlearning and Just-In-Time Training Can Improve Nurse Care Training. Retrieved from http://tinehealth.com/2017/03/13/how-microlearning-just-in-time-training-improve-nurse-care-training/