Can micro- & e-learning help with continuing professional development?

E-learning, Microlearning December 07 2017

rocket-vector-id485761818.jpgWith a few exceptions, training is not something that should be done once and not revisited. Generally speaking, it should be carried out repeatedly throughout an employee’s career, not to just maintain a level of proficiency, but to improve an employee’s abilities overall – and, by extension, to improve the performance of organisations.

This process of ongoing improvement through training is known as continuing professional development (CPD). For it to be as effective as possible, training shouldn’t just be provided on an ad-hoc basis, but should be strategically planned, delivered and tracked. How that should be done depends very much on the employer, the employee and the subject matter of the training itself. Two elements that can make up part of a successful CPD programme, though, are microlearning and e-learning.

Microlearning

The aim of CPD, by definition, is to build up the expertise of an employee. It is not an approach to learning for which large volumes of information should be ingested in one-off chunks as though for a single test. Knowledge needs to be retained effectively over the long-term, like with product knowledge or sales training, meaning microlearning can be a useful CPD technique.

Microlearning breaks topics down into tiny pieces. It aids the learning process because it suits the brain’s ability to learn short, easily consumable segments, rather than being overwhelmed by large slabs of new information. Not only does this lend itself to CPD’s goal of retaining knowledge over the long-term, it also spreads learning over time, making it more manageable for sustained learning approaches like CPD.

E-learning

There are lots of ways in which e-learning – learning with the use of a computer or similar tech – can contribute to a successful CPD programme. For starters, it can be an effective way to deliver content for microlearning. Many app-based e-learning platforms already do this, such as Duolingo for learning languages. Learning content can be pushed to users in small bits and learning can be done at times of the user’s convenience.

In addition, e-learning platforms can play a big role in the crucial tracking element of CPD. As learning content is delivered to employees, they can be tested on how well they are retaining knowledge. Similarly, end-of-section tests can measure proficiency for whole areas of learning. All of this data can then be used to inform both employees and employers about learning progress, top identify new areas for learning and to show learner development over time.

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