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Learning pills: a powerful mobile and microlearning strategy

• 5 min read

With more and more information easily available at your fingertips, the way you acquire new knowledge is also changing. One of the positive side effects of today’s fast-paced world is the emergence of learning pills.

These are not the type of pills you’ve probably seen in some sci-fi movies. They don’t grant you instant knowledge and know-how in martial arts or science fields. Learning pills won’t make you into an instant genius like in the movies but they will help you get the exact information you need when you need it.

That said, let’s explore what learning pills are and how they can be applied to your mobile and microlearning strategies.

What is a learning pill?

A learning pill (also called a knowledge pill) is actually a learning technique. It’s a type of microlearning methodology that offers a way of acquiring new knowledge on a given topic based on short snippets of factual information.

Similar to swallowing pills for quick pain relief, this learning technique introduces learners to small packets of practical information for an immediate work-related need. Both in higher education and corporate training sessions, knowledge pills help learners get the necessary know-how in only a few minutes. Learners don’t need to sit for hours listening to entire lectures to find what they need. A concise piece of content will often suffice, especially if it’s a refresher on something they’ve already learned.

Types of learning pills 

Depending on their use, learning pills come in various types. The main three categories are:

  • Concept knowledge pills which take a theoretical approach. They teach learners definitions, classifications, theories, or descriptions of a given topic.
  • Exercise knowledge pills which have a more hands-on style. Learners use these to acquire practical skills and competencies through problem-solving activities. They often apply concepts learned in other parts of their training sessions.
  • Testing knowledge pills which evaluate the new knowledge and know-how learners have acquired throughout their training.

With this basic information out of the way, let’s now take a look at some of the benefits that this learning technique has to offer.

Advantages of using learning pills

The learning pill methodology has its roots in social learning where you acquire knowledge with or from others. Knowledge pills are both a formal and informal type of learning depending on who is sharing the knowledge (a trainer or learner), in what format it is delivered, and in what setting it is presented. For example, small microlearning tips given by a mentor throughout the workday would be considered informal while short mobile learning instructional videos in a library bank would be considered more formal.

Learning pills can aid in knowledge sharing or identification. They often fill in any knowledge gaps or update any obsolete information within an organization’s repository. In addition, learning pills have the added benefit of:

  • Enabling the gathering and consolidation of professional expertise. This, in turn, makes possible the creation of tailored training sessions based on the specific needs of each job role.
  • Turning every employee into a training agent by allowing them to share their insights with their peers through shareable learning formats.
  • Allowing accessible training opportunities for employees as well as customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
  • Avoiding the constant repetition of irrelevant content information regarding the topic at hand.
  • Consolidating existing knowledge in the form of organizational memory.
  • Reducing the costs of traditional corporate training through agility and adaptability.
  • Making changes or updates in company processes and procedures easier to communicate.

Similarly, knowledge pills are flexible enough for independent use or interconnected use, to form a more comprehensive educational series. Thanks to this versatility, learning pills work very well for mobile learning, be it in the form of short videos, infographics, or presentations.

To that end, let’s take a look at how to implement learning pills with mobile learning and microlearning.

Learning pills as a mobile and microlearning strategy 

Mobile learning has been a major topic of conversation at industry events and seminars for several years now. Still, there seems to be quite a bit of confusion on how to successfully deliver knowledge on mobile devices.

With the prevalence of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and other messaging platforms, the way people interact with mobile devices is somewhat different from how they interact with desktop or laptop computers. Your learning strategy should reflect this.

Learning on a mobile device vs. computer

People use smartphones and computers differently and the way you build specific learning strategies should reflect that. Each learning medium should have its own specific learning strategy. Audience-targeted learning sessions that map to training assessments should include different delivery models and learning elements. This is what’s known as multimodal learning.

Many e-learning developers, when designing their mobile strategy, focus too much on the technology working across platforms. They rarely consider the learner’s psychology, what state they will be in when partaking in training, or the proper pedagogical design of the course.

Most learners are comfortable with sitting down at their computer and taking a 20- or 30-minute e-learning course (although, in our opinion, anything over 15 minutes at a time is too long). Few learners are going to spend that much time on a mobile device looking at the same content. Today’s workforce is better engaged with mobile devices, too.

Drive learning content engagement on mobile devices

The best use of mobile learning is to push concise learning modules (i.e., learning pills) either in a just-in-time fashion or by allowing users to have access on-demand. Creating these pills exclusively for mobile also allows your competency mapping and assessments to focus on more targeted skill areas.

Avoid highly complex or extremely technical subjects. Learners may be accessing these on the go when they have only a few minutes to spare. They may not be in an environment where they can fully concentrate on dense material.

How to create mobile-friendly learning pills for microlearning

Docebo Shape is an excellent artificial intelligence (AI)-powered learning pill designer. It automatically turns internal and external learning sources like articles, case studies, white papers, or PowerPoints into short and engaging knowledge pills. These pills are great for pushing out updates about company policy, compliance issues, job aid/task-related subjects, or small soft skill modules.

It allows learners to get the information they require without digging through a full course. They can also do it while they are on the move. One of the nice things about creating a large amount of knowledge pills is that they are highly reusable and can go into your larger courses as well. They are quickly consumed and don’t take up much time. Pair them with a couple of quick knowledge checks and you can quickly and easily see how your learners are doing.

There are, however, a few other things to consider.

Disadvantages of learning pills 

Although there are plenty of benefits, there are several potential complications to consider regarding learning pills:

  • They require more frequent updates to remain relevant.
  • Being a fast-learning technique, learning pills need a more careful selection of content.
  • Instructors have to choose the correct learning pill format that aligns with the specific application needs and processes.
  • For a seamless implementation, they require a proper learning tool and methodology adoption.
  • The design process of learning pills has to follow a somewhat standardized format to maximize learner engagement and information retention.
  • Instructors need to develop special expertise in using this microlearning method, which can raise the cost of implementation.
  • They don’t allow for in-depth training and aren’t ideal for complex processes or concepts.

Despite these issues, knowledge pills are still an effective learning method in today’s fast-paced working environment.

Produce learning pills with the right LMS

Learning pills play an increasingly important role in today’s business environment. They fill in any existing knowledge gaps and provide learners with the exact information they need to get the job done. By knowing how to use them properly, businesses of all shapes and sizes will stand to benefit a great deal.

If you want to see exactly how they work and how to implement them, schedule a demo with Docebo today.