What is Microlearning?

Tips & Tricks  |  September 1, 2019

Are you ready to do a deep-dive to find out more about microlearning? Great! So what is microlearning? “Microlearning” is used to refer to either small learning units or short-term learning activities. These units are concentrated, brief activities that take learners 5–10 minutes to complete, sometimes using a mobile device. 

Lessons are incredibly focused, dealing with only one idea at a time. Learners can complete microlearning lessons when their schedules permit, whether that’s during the afternoon or in the middle of the night. Have you ever used an app to learn another language? You’re taking advantage of microlearning!

Typical lesson formats include:

  • Text (phrases, short paragraphs)
  • Images (photos, illustrations)
  • Videos (of the short variety)
  • Audio (short snippets of speech or music)
  • Tests and Quizzes
  • Games (e.g. simple single-screen challenges)

Not all microlearning applications support every lesson format, so when you consider integrating microlearning into your training, make sure that you choose an application that supports the types of learning experiences you’d like to deliver to your employees. 

Research supports the inclusion of microlearning in employee development programs, and numerous statistics reflect its many benefits. No matter what your organization’s focus, you can provide your employees with microlearning opportunities that will empower them. 

It’s important to think about how you will integrate microlearning into your employee development program. To help you do that, let’s take a look at the features of microlearning, and also its limitations.

Features of Microlearning Opportunities

  • Each content element focuses on one objective. All of your microlearning content should have a single stated “learner objective”–what the learner will know/be able to do at the completion of the microlearning. Multiple related objectives should be supported by multiple content elements. Learners can then be sure that they understand one concept before building on that information in subsequent lessons.
  • Each lesson provides only crucial information. If you take a week-long course in a particular field, you will receive a great deal of information. You’ll probably discover that some of it isn’t useful or relevant to your needs, but that most of it is worth knowing.
    However, there will be some information that is not only worth knowing but also is essential for you to know. Microlearning focuses on this type of essential information: What information do learners need in order to perform a task successfully?
  • Lessons accommodate busy schedules and short attention spans. Learners typically invest 10 minutes or less reading, watching, or listening to the material and completing follow-up activities. Microlearning acknowledges both the cognitive benefits of learning in “chunks” and the user’s busy schedule.
  • Microlearning is often accessed on mobile devices. Many learners have smartphones or tablets, and shorter lessons can be completed easily while on-the-go: while waiting for an appointment, between meetings, or even during a commute. Microlearning applications can be accessed on a computer, but they are typically designed so that all users need to do is pull their phones or tablets out and jump in.
  • Lessons are created in a variety of formats. One of the aspects of microlearning that keeps learners engaged is that not all content is delivered in the same way. Certain topics may lend themselves well to a video, for example, while others might be best communicated through an audio file, a quiz or a short text passage. 
  • Microlearning opportunities can be offered across the training lifecycle. No matter what your overall training objects are, microlearning can be used at any point. You could offer an introductory quiz to assess learners’ knowledge of a particular topic before training begins, or use it to share a short video outlining the training schedule.
    As part of the training, microlearning can help communicate or reinforce specific ideas, procedures, policies, tips and tricks, and other applicable information. Following the completion of training, a quiz or a recap of the training could be offered.
  • Microlearning activities can be offered by themselves or in conjunction with other types of training delivery. Not only can you use microlearning throughout the training lifecycle, but you can also offer them as “stand-alone” elements or in concert with other types of training activities to further supplement your learners’ experience. 

Keeping in mind these features, it’s important to know microlearning isn’t always the right delivery method for every learning experience. For example, if you are trying to help learners understand complex subjects that can’t be broken down into discrete, logical chunks of information, forego microlearning. Likewise, if a particular topic needs to be discussed in-depth or would only benefit from real-time interaction with another person, examine other training delivery options. Remember should use multiple types of activities to help your employees get the information they need. Microlearning can be used to reinforce or supplement other training. 

With new advancements in technology almost daily, it can be hard to keep up! At KnowledgeForce Consulting, we’d love to help you stay in the know about what’s happening in the fast-paced world of corporate learning and ensure you and your team are ahead of the curve. 

Learn more about who we are, the problems we solve, the services we offer, and read about our satisfied clients. Contact us today to help us help you stay on top!

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