Macro Vs. Micro eLearning: Coexisting in the World of Skills Acquisition

The world of skills training online has evolved into two distinct learning models, both of which have advantages for those seeking to upskill and re-skill their workforces. The macro-learning model is based on a structured, longer-term learning path and curriculum. It is geared generally for companies who wish to enhance the skill sets of workers in areas primarily driven by technology change and evolution: digital marketing, cloud computing, data science, artificial intelligence, software development and other digital disciplines.

Conversely, micro learning is designed more for shorter-term, one-off learning needs. Video-based modules are made available in training libraries for anything from mastering Excel spreadsheets and data science tools to improving business writing skills. Micro learning has the advantage of offering bite-sized, easily digestible morsels of learning. In and of themselves, they don’t constitute an entire learning program, but rather a supplement.

For companies that are about the take the plunge into online skills training to keep their workforces current with the latest trends and technologies, a hybrid approach may be the most effective approach. With 40 percent of employers globally now finding it difficult to recruit people with the skills they need to succeed, the right combination of e-learning strategies is a great way to bridge the digital skills gap.

Macro Learning Provides Structure for a Continuous Learning Culture

Macro learning has proven to be the most effective way to create a learning path that achieves long-term results. Macro-based training programs can easily accommodate technology novices with broad-based foundational instruction to put them squarely on the learning path, then pick up where they left off with advanced, next-stage learning to enhance their mastery of needed skills and achieve advanced certifications. 

One example can be found in the digital marketing discipline, one of the hottest areas in skills training today. Any company that conducts email marketing campaigns, keeps up a regular cadence of social media content or invests in pay per click advertising is highly dependent on digital marketing experts who understand the inner workings of these key disciplines, and how to get the most bang for their buck. 

Macro-learning paths in digital marketing allow beginner-level learners (such as younger new hires without much experience or more mature workers that are adding to their resume or changing career paths) to get started with “foundation” courses. Popular paths include broad-based Introduction to Digital Marketing or Digital Marketing Certified Associate courses geared to creating foundational skills to work with digital marketing tools. As they grow into their jobs and careers (or as their managers set new certification goals for them), they move on to advanced skill sets such as the Digital Marketing Specialist Master’s Program that includes advanced social media marketing, advanced SEO and pay per click, advanced analytics training and much more. Micro learning programs simply don’t have the depth of real-world skills acquisition nor the pre-designed learning paths that macro can offer for multiple levels of expertise.  

Video Adds a Micro-learning Flavor

Video-based e-learning has become a key tenet of the micro-learning value proposition. A video makes it easy for learners to click-and-learn at their own pace as they absorb smaller, bite-size snippets of content. But a video isn’t limited to micro learning; it is also playing a growing role in the macro-learning world. Learning management systems that employ a hybrid online-classroom/video e-learning approach offers a taste of micro learning that is a crucial supplement to a full-fledged training program. If a learner misses a class, he or she can go back and review a video recording when convenient, or brush up on specific skills before a certification exam or an upcoming work project. Given the fact that IP video traffic will be 82 percent of all global consumer Internet traffic by 2021 (up from 73 percent in 2016) and that 98 percent of organizations said they would implement video as part of their digital learning strategy, a video will continue to have a major influence on the macro-learning framework. 

Blended Learning Is the Key to Skills Acquisition Harmony

The hybrid approach to e-learning that combines all the benefits of both micro and macro learning is the core of what’s commonly known as “blended learning.” Blended learning incorporates the best practices in skills training, such as encouraging deeper engagement between students and instructors to ensure a more interactive learning experience. It allows program managers to flexibly structure the right type of training for the right type of worker, an online mechanism to for easy and high-touch support and service, and the practical application of learned skills through real-world projects and simulations. And it provides a more measurable, certifiable outcome that can be tracked to show real results to the management team. Blended learning is so effective that 70 percent of students say they learn best in these blended learning environments, and 59 percent of teachers report students are more motivated in a blended learning environment. 

The most important advantages of macro and micro learning are finally coalescing around a hybrid blended learning approach to upskilling that produces measurable learning outcomes. As your teams start their journey down the path to skills certification, they’ll be sure to encounter the traits of both macro and micro learning methodologies. 

About the Author

Shivam AroraShivam Arora

Shivam Arora is a Senior Product Manager at Simplilearn. Passionate about driving product growth, Shivam has managed key AI and IOT based products across different business functions. He has 6+ years of product experience with a Masters in Marketing and Business Analytics.

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