theSkimm®: Opening My Eyes to the Power of Microlearning

In 2013, if someone had asked me about a change at the Vatican or President Obama’s second term, sadly, I would have had no idea what they were talking about. In fact, at that point in time, I most likely wouldn’t have been able to converse on a single top news story. I was so uninformed, it was embarrassing … but it wasn’t because I didn’t care.

As a recent college graduate, I was working full time in my first real role as an HR representative at Chrysler. In addition, I danced professionally for an NBA basketball team. So, when I wasn’t at work, I was on the court. I was left with almost no time for a personal life, and certainly no time to watch the news and catch up on current world events. This, of course, led to two major problems:

  • First, I felt uninformed and unable to participate in conversations with my peers, leaders, and clients; this left me feeling inadequate.
  • Second, I wanted to learn what was going on in the world but had zero time to consume news in the format it was being offered to me.

Enter theSkimm.

A coworker and friend of mine told me about theSkimm, an internet service that emails a daily newsletter called the Daily Skimm. Each Daily Skimm quickly summarizes top news headlines in a factual, unbiased, and hilarious way. The content is written in a chatty tone and uses humor to engage the audience, but it’s backed by facts.

Daily Skimm is delivered to my inbox at 6 a.m. every weekday and only takes me five minutes to read. I quickly went from being an ignorant, new millennial in the workplace, to an informed and confident one. Instead of casually backing my way out of “adult” conversations, I was starting them!

Just a few weeks ago, I read an article, “How the Skimm Became a Must Read for Millennials”, and it hit me… Daily Skimm is a GREAT example of the power microlearning has to educate and impact learning!

According to the article, more than 1 million people read Daily Skimm each day. This means a significant number of people are being educated about the world’s current events through a single email. theSkimm founders chose email as the delivery method because most of its target audience (20- to 30-year-olds) checks email before even getting out of bed. That means learning is happening just-in-time, when and where they need it. Each section of the Daily Skimm includes a quick summary of all the day’s top stories in politics, business, culture, and sometimes sports. In addition, those readers who have extra time and want to dive deeper into a particular topic can click on each story’s embedded links for additional details.

The success of theSkimm is both refreshing and encouraging for me as a training and development professional. There are many ways to gain knowledge and information. It doesn’t have to be accomplished via a full-length e-learning course, or in my case, an hour-long newscast.

So, what can we do to make our microlearning more successful and impactful at work? I think we need to ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Is microlearning an appropriate solution for the particular need?
  • Am I using the right delivery method?
  • Is the solution available just-in-time, when and where the learner needs it?
  • Does it capture the learner’s attention?
  • Is the learner walking away with knowledge gained?

I’d love to hear any microlearning success or failure stories from your organization. Are you currently implementing something similar to theSkimm in order to push information and content to employees? Has it been successful?

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