Microlearning: A Kirkpatrick Model Perspective

Microlearning: A Kirkpatrick Model Perspective

24 Nov 2023


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This informal CPD article, ‘Microlearning: A Kirkpatrick Model Perspective', was provided by Amber Parkin, People and Learning Science Director at PepTalk, who combine the power of storytelling and behavioural science to help individuals reach their full potential in the business of life.

Training programmes must be effective, efficient, and adaptable in today's fast-paced corporate environment. Microlearning, which delivers bite-sized, focused learning experiences, aligns perfectly with this need. Firstly, it allows people to get the specific information they need, fast, and secondly by applying the Kirkpatrick Model — a widely recognised training evaluation method — we can explore how microlearning meets each level of training effectiveness.

What is the Kirkpatrick Model?

The Kirkpatrick Model has been widely used since Donald Kirkpatrick first created it in the 1950s and has been revised and updated three times since its introduction. Four training evaluation levels exist Reaction, Learning, Behaviour and Results.

  • Level 1 - Reaction: the degree to which learners find the training favourable, engaging, and relevant to their jobs.
  • Level 2 - Learning: the degree to which learners acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence, and commitment based on their participation in the training.
  • Level 3 - Behaviour: the degree to which learners can apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job.
  • Level 4 - Results: The degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training and the support and accountability package.

Of course, there are several criticisms of the Kirkpatrick model, namely that change is hard, and not necessarily enjoyable, meaning a training might fail at the first level, it’s still a useful tool. That’s partly why in 2016, it was updated into the New World Kirkpatrick Model, which emphasises how important it is to make training relevant to people’s everyday jobs. Additionally, all four levels focus on employees, because it is about a real change in employees’ behaviour.

Now, let’s look at each level of success and imagine what it could look like when used in conjunction with a microlearning programme.

Level 1: Microlearning for Immediate Engagement

With an average length of 1-10 minutes per course, microlearning has the chance to capture immediate learner reactions, a crucial first step in the Kirkpatrick Model. Short, engaging modules lead to higher satisfaction rates, as learners can complete them without feeling overwhelmed. This satisfaction is evident in the positive reactions seen in post-training surveys, star ratings, and comments. One simple way to capture the response in your organisation? End Microlearning modules with a quick feedback tool to gauge immediate learner reaction, like a smile-sheet.

Level 2: Knowledge Transfer through Microlearning

The short, sharp and sweet nature of microlearning makes it ideal for knowledge transfer, particularly in a corporate setting where time is at a premium. Interactive elements like short quizzes and scenario-based questions can be embedded within microlearning modules to reinforce learning and assess understanding. When you design microlearning content, make sure that it includes a mix of multimedia and interactive assessments to ensure a robust learning process — however, this content should always be aligned with your desired learning outcomes.

Level 3: Microlearning with Real-world Impact

Microlearning's real-world application shines in its ability to offer just-in-time learning, directly impacting on-the-job behaviour. By providing learners with scenario-based content they can access at the point of need, microlearning facilitates the immediate application of knowledge, which managers can observe and assess. Develop scenario-based microlearning modules that employees can access before performing a task, reinforcing learning through practice.

Level 4: Measuring the Results of Microlearning

The ultimate test of any training programme, including microlearning, is its impact on organisational goals. By analysing performance data pre- and post-microlearning implementation, organisations can measure improvements in productivity, efficiency, and other key performance indicators. In the inverse, it’s essential to regularly review any dipping business performance metrics and link them to microlearning initiatives, providing tangible opportunities to improve the effectiveness of employees.

Final thoughts

Microlearning, when viewed through any angle of the Kirkpatrick Model, offers a comprehensive and practical approach to corporate training. Plus, what’s more, is that it can be applied to almost any topic imaginable, from wellbeing to leadership, DEI to customer experience skills and beyond. Its flexibility, focus on critical concepts, and ability to provide just-in-time learning make it a powerful tool for enhancing each level of training evaluation.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from PepTalk, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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For more information from PepTalk, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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