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Demystifying Microlearning

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Working in the fast-moving and highly competitive retail industry means most of our employees have jam-packed schedules nearly every day. People have little time to devote to traditional half-day, full-day, or weeklong workshops and training programs. Additionally, as technology, processes, and consumer trends rapidly evolve, information becomes outdated, requiring agile approaches for efficient delivery.

Enter the world of microlearning. While it might be surrounded by buzzwords and industry jargon that add confusion, the applications can be simple and easy to implement once you understand how they fit into real-world scenarios. The ATD Microlearning Certificate program helped demystify ideas about microlearning and showed me how to effectively incorporate them in my department and L&D program.

The ATD TechKnowledge 2018 conference was incredibly convenient, and took place in Silicon Valley, right down the freeway from our Banana Republic offices in San Francisco, allowing me to easily take two days to fully immerse myself in the program. With an industry-leading instructor and a great mix of learning professionals from around the world, the experience provided just the right amount of theory with lots of hands-on working time to dive into tactics.

Between the crowd-sourced vendor recommendations, technology suggestions, examples from the talented participants, robust templates, and tools provided, it was easy to feel confident getting started. I loved that the conversations and ideas spanned a wide range of scenarios—everything from a one-person team with little to no budget, to larger organizations able to make sizable investments in tools and technology.


I was able to take what I learned and put it into action within a few weeks of the certificate program. My team was tasked with reinventing our brand’s approach to onboarding to support upcoming organizational changes, which required hiring almost 200 new employees over three to six months. Thanks to my involvement with ATD, we were able to create a modern, scalable, and agile onboarding approach with key principles of microlearning embedded into the new experience.

Two key technology partners were critical in bringing this innovative way of onboarding to life. We worked with Enboarder to deliver personalized bite-sized “nudges” directly to the inboxes and mobile phones of new employees and hiring managers at every step of the process. Additionally, Oakland, California–based start-up Enwoven allowed us to take new employees through the rich 40-year history of our brand with micro content delivered digitally in interactive frameworks during onboarding.

The results after implementing microlearning principles via Enboarder and Enwoven have been outstanding, with measurable improvements in first-year retention and 95 percent of new hires strongly approving of their initial onboarding experience. The two-day Microlearning Certificate program with ATD was a key inspiration to our new program and a practical way to start working with and learning from other L&D professionals.

Check out this short video for a sample of what our Onboarding in Motion experience looks like!

About the Author

Dan Leavitt is the director of talent development at Banana Republic in San Francisco, CA. He likes to find new and innovative ways to approach the same old problems, like onboarding and team effectiveness. If you’d like to see what he’s been up to, you can check out his portfolio on the Enwoven platform.

Dan went to college and was rewarded with an MS in adult education and human resource development from Florida State University. He has one wife, five sons, no pets, and lots of books. Currently he’s trying his hand at comedy improv; the reviews so far have been mixed.

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Thanks for sharing! It was great to see your onboarding program in action.
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