From “one & done” training to continuous microlearning

Posted: April 8, 2020

Ever watched that show called “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?”, where adults compete against 10-year-olds on basic knowledge? If we’ve all spent years studying, why can’t most of us answer the questions correctly, much less beat the kids?

Most educational programs provide large amounts of information over a short period of time, followed by a one-time assessment to confirm knowledge. The reality is that humans can’t retain all this information. Over 90% of it is forgotten within 30 days [1]. No matter how good the training is, no matter how much time and money is invested, our brains just aren’t designed to drink from an educational firehouse.

So how do you make learning stick? Cognitive psychology research says that we can increase long-term knowledge retention upwards of 90% by exposing people to short bits of learning content over time [1]. This is called microlearning – a 3 to 5-minute daily training session. By increasing retention, microlearning is a key piece in maximizing the return from your training investment.

Microlearning drives behavior and culture change

Microlearning is about more than just making sure people remember the answers to a pop quiz. It’s about sustained competency that ensures workers instinctively know all that crucial information when they most need it. Think about it this way: If you were to hit a patch of ice while driving, what would you do? Driving classes teach you to take your foot off the gas and steer into the skid, but when was the last time you had to do that? How confident are you in your winter driving skills? If the action isn’t instinctive, you’re much more likely to panic in the moment. The consequences are serious, even more so on the job when dealing with a process upset in a complex industrial system. People not only need to know the information to do their job, they need the confidence to put it into action in the moment, regardless of the circumstances. Knowing what to do but panicking in the moment, is just as dangerous as not knowing at all. When learning is continuous and happening every day, critical information is top of mind and proper actions become second nature, driving behavior and culture change.

Microlearning can be delivered on any device right in the flow of work to provide people with just-in-time information accessible at their fingertips. This short training session can take different forms depending on what concept you’re trying to reinforce, from questions to 3D animations, to simulation-based videos and more. By applying AI to the data collected from these microlearning moments, we can continuously identify individual knowledge gaps and automatically adapt the content that is pushed out to fill those gaps. Training is always personalized and tailored to avoid training someone in things that they already know how to do. And thanks to the vast amount of data collected through microlearning, we can link training efforts to plant metrics, giving actionable insights on how to drive plant KPIs in the right direction. Coupling this with simulation and XR training exercises where people can learn by doing in a safe and controlled environment leads to tangible performance improvements and drives long term retention. In fact, it’s 4X more effective than other techniques as it creates deeper memory traces in the brain.  84% of learners state that microlearning helps them perform better [2] .

One and done training is over

To truly improve worker performance and safety, we need to get past one and done training. In an era where consistency in performance is more important than ever, dedicating a few short minutes a day to microlearning can make a world of difference in avoiding human error and maintaining competency.

Microlearning helps workers retain content. To see what that content can be, read our blog post on Standardized Training.

[1]  H. Ebbinghaus. “Memory: A Contribution to Experimental psychology”, 1885.

[2]  Axonify

Are you ready to transform learning? Read our Training for Tomorrow Digital Document to see how AVEVA helps companies address both the human and technical aspects of learning.


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