What is Microlearning?

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microlearningAs we move further into the digital age, it’s become clear that the human attention span is decreasing rapidly. We’re struggling to focus on single tasks for long periods of time, having a tendency to get distra… Oh, look at that dog!

When we’re online, we’re exposed to a sheer overload of information, yet in the past that’s often been our approach to training. We would create a comprehensive training module and bombard the learner with everything they need to know.

Of course, this simply isn’t effective when learners struggle to concentrate on such a mass of information. We would need another approach to make things easier to take in.

Thankfully, big things come in small packages, and microlearning is a fantastic solution!


microlearningRather than the comprehensive approach to learning, it’s often much more effective to chunk everything up into small, focused bursts, which can be completed within just a few minutes.

On top of this, when you’re running a training programme for an organisation you’re bound to discover that people tend to be very busy. Asking them to take time away from their work to learn something is a challenge, but breaking things up into small, digestible chunks is a much easier pill to swallow.

This is microlearning, and it’s perfect for today’s learners! It involves creating small pieces of content, which can be completed in a short time as and when the learner gets a chance. As they work their way through a number of these, behavioural change will develop.

Essentially, all of these small actions will come together to make a big impact!

Microlearning applications

Microlearning is a natural match for a number of other types of learning. Here’s how you can put it to big use:

Mobile Learning

Somewhat confusingly, mLearning doesn’t refer to microlearning, but rather mobile learning. That being said, the two are actually a perfect fit for each other.

When delivering training via a mobile device you have a number of limitations to consider, such as poor connectivity and small screen sizes. Short snippets of content are exactly what the medium needs, since they can be completed on the go and won’t use up all of your learners’ mobile data!

microlearningJust-in-time learning

One of the biggest benefits of microlearning is that it can be completed in a flash. For this reason, it’s a fantastic way to deliver just-in-time learning!

This training should be delivered at the point of need, so learners should be able to find and complete it there and then. This means that they won’t have an hour to work through an in-depth learning piece. Instead, having a small piece of content will give them a quick refresher which they can put into practice right away.

Adaptive learning

Adaptive learning is a clever branch of personalised learning, where a training programme is automatically tailored to suit the learner. For example, a learner might complete an eLearning unit, and based on their performance the LMS could automatically push extra content to them.

The original unit should have done a good job at covering the topic in general, so another massive unit would be overkill. Instead, microlearning units are a great way to plug these knowledge gaps, since they can be short and absolutely focused on the area that the learner struggled with.

Keep an eye out for plenty more entries into our Online Learning Glossary over the coming weeks!

And if you’re looking to put together a massively successful online training programme, then you’ve come to the right place! Download your free Engagement Engine Workbook to map out a strategy which uses gamification, social and personalised learning:

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