Our attention spans aren’t getting any longer. And our teams are busier than ever. Yet in the rapidly shifting world of work, our employees must be adaptable and learn information faster. Innovative learning methods like microlearning and nano learning are an ideal way to retain information in just a few seconds or minutes. How can busy L&D teams develop nano learning solutions that have an impact on skills development?
Discover 5 essential tips for developing nano learning solutions that work for your organisation.
Reading time: 9 minutes
The world of work continues to rapidly shift. We’re already seeing signs of the future. One in which technological advancements will disrupt (and enhance) work as we know it.
Starting today, employees need to be highly adaptable and learn information faster. What is one of the most effective ways of doing this? Embracing innovative learning methods like microlearning and nano learning.
Both are bite-sized learning. Think: short video tutorials, appealing infographics, interactive quizzes or gamified activities. This condensed learning makes it easier to learn new skills or procedures at a much faster rate.
So, how are they different?
It all comes down to length and depth of content. Microlearning sessions are typically between 3-5 minutes and tackle topics in more depth, while nano learning sessions last between a few seconds and 2 minutes.
The reality is our attention spans aren’t getting any longer. The latest scientific study shows it’s down to 47 seconds on any screen. Plus, we forget about 50% of new information within one hour, and it increases to 90% within a week.
How much can your teams learn in a few seconds or minutes? Quite a lot, actually.
Read on to uncover the top 5 tips for developing nano learning solutions in your workplace.
1. Focus on a single nano objective
When it comes to nano learning, less is more. So how do you maximise the learning potential of each bite-sized learning experience? Focus on one main topic or objective at a time.
As nano learning is so short, its objectives should also be nano - very small and specific objectives that can be combined to achieve a larger goal. Nano objectives can help build momentum and keep employees motivated to work towards larger goals. By breaking down larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks, they can make progress every day and stay focused on the things that matter most.
Nano learning course content should deliver very specific information based around a single idea or concept or answer a specific question in a concise and accessible way. For example, a quick video tutorial on procedures such as booking leave or submitting expenses.
Focusing on a single, nano objective brings many benefits, as it:
- ensures each short learning burst is relevant
- provides focused and efficient learning to get maximum results quickly
- makes information easier to process and understand
- reduces the cognitive load on the learner, ensuring they are not overwhelmed
- increases levels of comprehension and retention of information.
2. Involve employees in generating nano learning content
Another advantage of nano learning is that you can create content with limited time, budget and resources. One of the best ways to do so is to involve your employees in curating content from different sources or creating customised content.
The subject-matter experts in your organisation are perfectly positioned to share their expertise. Carla Torgerson, an expert on microlearning, refers to this as ‘crowdsourcing’ learning content. It allows an organisation to develop more personal, contextualised and relevant content. Employees already have a deep understanding of the organisation's culture, processes and needs, making curating or creating bite-sized learning content much easier.
For example, let’s say a sales executive has a difficult time with a client. They could access a short video or article from another colleague sharing how they dealt with similar conflicts with clients. It can help them reflect on the situation and get quick advice on the best way to handle it.
Crowdsourcing content also works well for Millennial and Gen Z employees as they want to advance in their careers and enjoy feeling like they’re contributing to the organisation.
Involving employees in nano learning creation is a winning strategy because it:
- enhances their sense of engagement and motivation through actively contributing to the organisation
- brings fresh perspectives and ideas to content creation, leading to more innovative and creative learning solutions
- empowers them to take ownership over their own learning and development
- helps promote a learning culture as they are encouraged to seek out new learning opportunities and share their knowledge with others.
To boost the effectiveness of crowdsourced nano learning, encourage storytelling. Stories are a powerful tool. They can immediately capture learners’ attention, make content more memorable and maintain their engagement throughout the learning experience. Storytelling can quickly create an emotional connection, helping learners relate to the content and feel more invested in their learning.
3. Make your content media rich
Our brains are hardwired to quickly take in and process visual information. Using a good mix of multimedia in nano learning can help reinforce learning and improve retention. You can also design nano learning resources for learners with different learning styles and abilities. This ensures content is more inclusive and meets the needs of multi-generational learners.
Focus on creating highly engaging and memorable bite-sized learning content by combining rich media formats such as:
- infographics, graphs and charts
- audio, including podcasts, music and sound effects
Also, try incorporating gamification to increase participation. Through very short situation-based simulations, learners make quick decisions in a fun format. They earn scores, points, or rewards.
However, make sure you use gamification thoughtfully and strategically in nano learning. It might not be appropriate for all learners or learning objectives. Consider your goals, learner needs and preferences, and the overall learning environment when including gamification.
4. Incorporate feedback, assessment and micro certification into nano learning
Nano learning content is not the only thing that is quick. So is the feedback. Include short quizzes and assessments so learners get immediate input on their progress. By doing so, learners can quickly identify areas where they may need additional learning.
The role of assessment and feedback shouldn’t be underestimated. They can help motivate learners to continue learning, improving their overall learning outcomes. For example, provide short simulations so that learners get hands-on experience. Simulations are ideal for helping learners better understand how to apply concepts they are learning in real-world situations.
Another advantage of bite-sized learning platforms is they can provide analytics to track learner performance and report ROI. By monitoring learner progress, you can adjust nano learning content and make ongoing improvements as needed.
Also, consider micro certification, which learners can earn use to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. For example, employees including micro certifications on LinkedIn is a great way to promote your organisation’s L&D opportunities.
And learners prefer flexible learning solutions over traditional courses and certifications. Because it allows them to learn and earn certifications at their own pace. Plus, it’s a great way to encourage ongoing learning and professional development. With nano learning, learners can continue to earn new certifications in different areas and topics over time.
5. Adopt the best practices of social learning
It’s not a secret anymore. About 80% of employees admit to using social media at work. Put their TikTok skills to work to create nano learning resources. And if it involves some dancing, why not?
Choose the most engaging aspects of social media to promote social learning as part of your nano learning course strategy. Some popular ideas include:
- using TikTok and YouTube channels to upload bite-sized training videos
- creating forums where learners can share updates, ideas, and comment on each other’s progress
- ensuring content is accessible on mobile devices so that training is available when they’re on the go
- engaging employees to share opinions on nano learning content through emojis, likes, shares.
Making nano learning more social allows you to create on-demand, engaging and fun content that most employees, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, enjoy. It also creates a sense of belonging within the learning community.
Ready to get started? Before you do, here are some key takeaways to remember:
- Focus on a single objective for each nano learning experience to ensure it’s easier to process and understand.
- Involve employees as a resource for creating nano learning content to enhance motivation, engagement and promote a learning culture.
- Make nano learning content media-rich by using different types of media, incorporating gamification strategically and thoughtfully.
- Incorporate feedback, assessment and micro certification to motivate learners, improve their overall learning outcomes and reward them for learning new skills.
- Boost engagement and make nano learning more social by bringing in the best of social media.
British Council has been partnering with organisations to develop their talent for more than 80 years. Through our 4-step process, we work closely with teams to ensure learning programmes are engaging, relevant and develop the skills your people and organisation need to embed a culture of learning.
Find more valuable tips by reading our blogs:
- 4 essential innovative learning strategies for 2023
- Why a learning culture is vital for success in your organisation
- How L&D can create a learning culture