How the ‘micro’ method is bringing new meaning to eLearning

Published 15 October 2020 by MaryLou Costa

The bite size approach has transformed how we consume content, and is now changing the face of professional development in multiple ways, from micro-credentials to micro-modules, not only elevating the value of online learning but future-proofing company workforces and individuals. 


With the UN warning that global unemployment figures could surge by an additional 25 million thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, organisations worldwide are acknowledging the urgency and priority of upskilling, for both businesses and individuals to stay competitive and valuable in an increasingly uncertain work landscape. 

In Malaysia, for example, the Asia e University has joined forces with tech learning provider iTrain Asia to deliver a mico-credentials programme centred on data engineering, full-stack development, UX design and AI deep learning. It has partnered with individual employers such as AI company Skymind, which has committed to employing 50 deep learning engineers as a result. 

Meanwhile in Australia, micro-credential initiatives that are the product of university and corporate collaborations are normalising the concept of lifelong learning, recognising that the education process shouldn’t cease once someone graduates. Telco Telstra is partnering with six education institutions to focus on areas deemed as critical skills shortages, such as network and software engineering, cyber security, and data analytics

And Torrens University works with the likes of IBM and travel firm Flight Centre, as “a direct response to the increasing and urgent industry priority to efficiently and rapidly train employees to use digital data and tools to solve complex problems,” Vice-Chancellor Justin Belby wrote in the Australian Financial Review.

Lifelong learning, as Telstra partner the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) outlines, needs to be “flexible, real-world and personalised”, in order to create a “global community of adaptive learners and thinkers”.

 

Fitting effective learning into busy lives

Circus Street’s own insights, based on a survey of 250 corporate learners, reveal that executives only have around 30 per minutes per week to spare on professional development – yet that 70% of learners feel more motivated when training on their mobile device, typically studying for 14 minutes longer than those using a desktop or tablet.

This jointly underlines all three of UTS’ points around flexibility, real-world use and personalisation - alongside Torrens’ Belby’s statement around the urgency of digital and data upskilling - as the most prominent drivers for e-learning in 2020 and beyond.

This approach has paved the way for the company’s new Spotlight lessons - 10-minute, mobile-first lessons designed like consumer content, using TV presenters and animations. They’re designed for busy executives to seamlessly fit learning not just into their everyday activities, but at the “moment of need” – such as before a big meeting or presentation, explains Head of Education Jo Roberts, who has noted a 300% rise in the number of people accessing the platform’s content via mobile phones.

We’re constantly striving striving to make sure that education and learning is accessible, relevant, and incredibly inspiring in a world of continuous change, and our new Spotlight lessons are the next stage of that journey,” she says.

Global companies such as Nike, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble and Heineken have already rolled out Circus Street’s Spotlight lessons, which so far boast a 90% completion rate. 

 

Critical learning in a changing retail landscape

Nike’s Director of Digital Commerce Partnerships for Asia Pacific and Latin America, Rafael Maldonado, notes that bite size learning content like Spotlight lessons are “critical” as the retail and digital landscapes continue to evolve and change “so rapidly”.

Now more than ever in our industry, brands and retailers have to understand the trends and dynamics of the market. And one of the first steps to achieve this is making sure that teams are knowledgeable about what are the concepts behind those shifts,” he says.

Short learning sessions like Spotlights are a great way for a team to ensure they're up to date on relevant themes and subjects in a quick, effective and engaging way.” 

The topics covered – AI, blockchain, and big data, among others – are “very relevant to what's happening in the digital world right”, Maldonado adds, “to build those capabilities within our team to enable them to understand all the different aspects of the marketplace, and be able to act on them in a quick and effective way.”

Not only do teams need access to fast ways of learning, but content has to be even more curated, digestible and watchable than in the pre-Covid world, as learners have less one-to-one guidance, states Circus Street Co-Founder and President Jonny Townsend. 

Add to this the digital acceleration Nike’s Maldonado pointed to, then the purpose of micro-modules and bite size learning becomes increasingly clear. 

Pretty much all of our clients are saying that their digital plans have been brought forward five years. They now just can’t put these things off, when you look at the statistics around how money is going towards e-commerce and non-linear channels,” says Circus Street’s Townsend.

Any business really needs to embrace it all, and to do that, has to upskill large amounts of people in their organisation quickly.”

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