A New Approach for Nonprofit Professional Development: Micro-Learning | Beth's Blog

A New Approach for Nonprofit Professional Development: Micro-Learning

Instructional Design

Recently, a nonprofit professional said to me, “I don’t have time to learn anything new because I have too much work to do.” Indeed, she had a calendar full of meetings, an endless to do list, and an inbox that was anything but zeroed out. Yet, we know that  learning continuously  in a complex world is critical because otherwise our skills are quickly outdated.

Enter micro-learning, resources that can be quickly read, viewed, or consumed and take only ten minutes or less. Micro-learning online courses consist of a video, an info-graphic or list of tips, and a set of instructional or assessment questions that help us think differently about the topic and find something bite size to apply immediately. Micro-learning is often self-directed, so the first important step is figuring out what you need to learn.

According to talent and development experts, micro-learning is disrupting more traditional  types of learning: a longer online course online or an in-person course workshop. Micro-learning is on demand, fast, and can be consumed anywhere, any time.

Now to be honest, as an adjunct professor and someone who has facilitated and taught workshops for over 25 years, I used to think that long, intense courses was the only way to go.  But we need different ways to learn at different points in our professional careers. Micro-learning has become more important because the way we work has dramatically changed.We work in an information jungle, spending a lot of time seeking and looking for information and we are constantly facing a deluge of information, emails, texts, and more.

But learning at work is more than toggling between longer form learning and micro-learning or using one approach versus the other. As Josh Bersin points out in this article on “The Disruption of Digital Learning: Ten Things We Have Learned,” traditional coaching, training, and culture of learning is also still needed. He points out that professionals must have time to learn and the need for discussion and reflection, and giving people space and freedom to discuss mistakes, ask questions, and often experiment with new ideas. All of this modes work together to create a distributed learning ecosystem at work.  That’s the future.

As someone who has been designing and delivering professional development, training, and coaching for nonprofits, I was curious about the best practices of creating micro-learning opportunities.  I was lucky enough to work closely with the team at NonprofitReady , a free nonprofit online learning portal where you will find hundreds of micro-learning and other online courses for nonprofit professionals. We created three micro-learning courses on avoiding burnout at work based on my new book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit, co-authored with Aliza Sherman.

The first two are available now for free.

How To Get Started With Walking Meetings This micro-learning course teaches you how to integrate walking meetings into your organization. Walking meetings not only improve physical health, but can improve productivity, increase creativity and strengthen work relationships. The course offers practical resources on how to plan and manage a walking meeting so it can become an effective part of your working routine.

Course objectives:

  • Understand the harmful effects of prolonged sitting
  • Plan and manage walking meetings to improve personal wellness and work effectiveness

Preventing Technology Burnout:  This micro course shares the research on how the daily use of technology can result in emotional, mental, and physical burnout. It also includes a self-assessment that indicates your risk for burnout as well as practical tips for effectively managing your personal technology.

Course objectives:

  • Define and recognize personal technology burnout
  • Learn personal technology productivity tips

Check it out and let me know what you think!

One Response

  1. Paul Clolery says:

    Hey Beth … I love this column. Can we use it (with a little editing you’d see before running)? We do a professional development section for October and would love to use it.

Leave a Reply