eLearning Expert Interview: Lesli Smith
Hello Lesli… Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience in micro-learning.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and experience.
For the past 20 years, I have worked in academic and corporate educational arenas, beginning my first career as a secondary English teacher. A colleague introduced me to Moodle in 2003, and in 2008, I chose to leave the classroom and move into the realm of helping others learn how to use Moodle for the learning needs of their organizations. Over successive career iterations in working with online learning, and particularly with Moodle and Totara Learn, I have served as Internal Training Manager, site administrator, implementation specialist, and Moodle/Totara mentor/trainer for various Moodle and Totara partners. I am currently serving as a Senior Solutions Architect for Webanywhere, and one of my chief roles is to facilitate the design and actualization of learning environment improvements for our clients.
What is micro - learning to you and why is it significant ...or not?
I think the trend for offering micro-learning arose out of the demands in the workplace to provide “just-in-time” learning opportunities and resources to employees who need them, oftentimes right there on the job when they need them. The challenge to provide meaningful (and let’s face it, useful) learning objects to a workforce with highly competitive demands for their time and attention is ever foremost in the minds of those who design virtual learning environments today, and we often meet that criteria only halfway. We manage to provide it in smaller chunks, but so many times we fail to offer it in more concise formats with clear, cohesive pathways back to practical applications on the job. In short, I think it is a significant and valuable trend, but only if it is implemented in the right way.
According to Bersin by Deloitte, a typical employee has 1% per week to spend on training and development, how can micro-learning support this?
Micro-learning is only effective if it incorporates a clear organization that is supported by clear objectives on the back end. If done correctly, it can provide the immediate, and sometimes crucial, skills proficiency reinforcement that employees need to have available to them as they are performing the task at hand.
Do you think advances in AI and mobile learning have led to improvements in micro-learning?
Mobile learning certainly has. If staff can access crucial information at the moment they need it, that underscores their learning by providing them with the chance to apply their learning directly to their task. In terms of AI, the ability for software to aggregate data on behaviors and to in turn direct users down certain paths according to those behaviors, well, at first that was an amazing thing. Still AI is not human, and I think the current algorithms and technology in use to guide us in the social network arenas, for instance, are far more prone to filter out actual useful and wanted information than not. In a learning arena, the consequences are far more dire: it amounts to selective education and an imperfectly informed workforce. So I guess you see I am a skeptic of AI, though I recognize its impact is ubiquitous and that we are often now adapting to AI as much as it is adapting to us in the various arenas where it is employed.
What are your experiences in micro-learning? What type of training does it work well with or not?
I confess I have not completely climbed on the whole micro-learning bandwagon, but I have spent a fair amount of time begging my clients to reduce their one to three hour lecture videos (of the most riveting content EVER) down to shorter segments that can be watched and digested in a way that allows the person viewing the lecture to actually take time to reflect on the content.
In your opinion, is micro-learning here to stay?
Well, call it what you like, but the need to provide far more concise and meaningful learning opportunities to those in the workplace when and where they need them, yes, that trend is here to stay.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us