Updated: Jun 5
In this blog, you will discover
What is Microlearning?
Microlearning is a learning approach that breaks down new information into small, easily digestible chunks. These bite-sized sessions typically take under ten minutes to complete and can even be as short as one minute.
Microlearning solutions can take many forms, including interactive videos, quizzes, games, simulations, and more, and are often personalized to meet the specific learning needs of individual users.
This approach to learning is gaining popularity in the business world as a way to increase productivity, engagement, and knowledge retention among employees.
What is the Microlearning Theory?
Microlearning theory is based on the pioneering research of Hermann Ebbinghaus, who in the mid-1880s developed a scientific approach to studying memory and introduced concepts like the learning curve and forgetting curve.
Ebbinghaus studied the capabilities and function of memory in his subjects and discovered that memory does not stay consistent throughout trials, and can increase, decrease, and fluctuate many times. This led to his groundbreaking work on the forgetting curve, which revealed how quickly we forget information if we don't actively retain it.
Moreover, Ebbinghaus discovered the concept of memory savings, which refers to knowledge that is retained even after a significant time without using it. He found that strictly memorized information can be recalled much more easily after learning it again, even after a long time.
These insights form the basis of microlearning theory, which emphasizes learning in small, easily digestible chunks to maximize retention and minimize forgetting.
People typically lose 80% of the knowledge they learn within a month.
Learning large amounts of information does retain for a certain amount of time, but if that information isn't considered 'crucial,' the knowledge tends to degrade over time.
The Microlearning concept can be used to tackle this issue.
Splitting the content into small pieces can help improve knowledge retention and productivity.
Recalling different parts of the content over time can also contribute to better retention
What are the benefits of Microlearning?
Each microlearning course targets one specific item, eliminating the need for employees to sift through a large course to find the information they actually need to learn, saving them time and increasing their productivity. Below are the other benefits of a microlearning solution:
The #1 reason employees often avoid engaging in workplace learning is because they don’t have the time. A microlearning solution provides a quick, efficient way to learn new skills and information, with sessions typically taking under 10 minutes. With less time needed for training, employees can still learn extra skills for their jobs, without sacrificing valuable work time.
Increases Learner Engagement
Long learning sessions can be difficult to remain engaged in, even for people with great attention spans. A microlearning solution provides bite-sized, easily digestible modules that cater to shorter periods of engagement. This way, employees can stay engaged with new information, leading to improved learning outcomes.
Improves Knowledge Retention
A microlearning solution provides targeted learning focused on specific skills or concepts, improving the ability of employees to remember what they learn. By breaking down complex information into smaller pieces and recalling different parts of the content over time, it can help improve knowledge retention and productivity.
Enables Learning on the Go
A microlearning solution is accessible on any device, not just computers, making it easy for employees to learn on the go. Short, bite-sized lessons make it easy to fit into a busy schedule and learn nearly anywhere, anytime.
Supports Self-Paced Learning
A microlearning solution allows employees to learn at their own pace, whether it’s a subject they excel in or one they need more time to master. Employees can review specific pieces of information without delaying the rest of the learning course, allowing for flexible and personalized learning paths.
Enables Personalized Learning
A microlearning solution allows you to construct your learning paths with short, informative pieces of learning, which are specifically relevant to the employee’s role. It makes it easier to recommend different pieces for different roles, enabling even more flexibility and personalized learning paths.
Challenges to Microlearning
Content development requires effort: Developing effective microlearning content requires time and resources, especially for subjects that require a deep understanding. The content must be well-researched, well-designed, and well-delivered, which can be a challenge.
Maintaining content can be time-consuming: Like any learning solution, a microlearning solution needs to be updated and refreshed regularly. This requires ongoing maintenance efforts to ensure the content remains relevant and accurate, which can be time-consuming.
Technical constraints: Implementing a microlearning solution requires specific technology, such as a mobile app or a specific learning management system, which can limit their accessibility and usability.
Balancing depth and breadth: Microlearning is designed to deliver information in short bursts, which can make it challenging to balance the depth of information with the breadth of topics covered.
Measuring effectiveness: While microlearning can be effective in delivering specific pieces of information, it can be challenging to measure its overall effectiveness and impact on employee performance.
What are the differences: Microlearning vs elearning
Microlearning and eLearning are two popular forms of digital learning that have gained a lot of attention in recent years. While they share many similarities, there are significant differences between the two that can impact the learning experience.
Short, bite-sized modules
Long, comprehensive courses
Typically under 10 minutes per module
Can take hours, days, or even weeks
Targeted and specific to one topic
Covers a wide range of topics
Keeps learners engaged with short bursts
Can become tedious and unengaging
Enhances knowledge retention
May result in information overload
How Microlearning and Sports Are Alike
Overall, microlearning and sports share several key similarities, including a focus on small but consistent actions, an emphasis on mastery, immediate feedback, goal-orientation, practice, and continuous improvement. By adopting these principles, learners can effectively build their skills and achieve their goals in a way that is similar to how athletes approach their sport.
Focus on Small but Consistent Actions
Microlearning and sports both prioritize the importance of taking small and consistent actions towards a larger goal. Just as a sports team must consistently train and practice in order to improve, microlearning encourages individuals to learn in small, manageable increments.
Example: A basketball player may spend a few minutes each day practicing their free throws, while a learner may watch a short video or complete a quick quiz to reinforce a specific concept.
Emphasis on Mastery
Both microlearning and sports place an emphasis on mastering skills and concepts. In sports, athletes aim to perfect their technique and develop a deep understanding of the game. Similarly, a microlearning solution emphasizes the mastery of specific knowledge or skills through repetition and reinforcement.
Example: A tennis player may practice their backhand stroke over and over again until it becomes second nature, while a learner may repeatedly review key vocabulary terms until they can recall them easily.
Feedback is crucial in both microlearning and sports. In sports, coaches and teammates provide immediate feedback on an athlete's performance, allowing them to identify areas for improvement. Similarly, a microlearning solution often incorporates immediate feedback, such as quizzes or assessments, to help learners identify knowledge gaps and make necessary adjustments.
Example: A soccer player may receive feedback from their coach on their positioning during a game, while a learner may receive instant feedback on a quiz question they answered incorrectly.
Both microlearning and sports are goal-oriented. In sports, athletes set goals for themselves, such as improving their speed or endurance. Similarly, microlearning encourages learners to set goals for themselves, such as mastering a specific skill or completing a course.
Example: A track and field athlete may set a goal to improve their 100-meter sprint time, while a learner may set a goal to complete a microlearning module within a specific timeframe.
Practice Makes Perfect
Just as practice is essential in sports, a microlearning solution also places a strong emphasis on practice. By practicing consistently and repeatedly, learners can reinforce their knowledge and build their skills over time.
Example: A golfer may practice their swing for hours each week in order to improve their technique, while a learner may repeat an activity or review material multiple times to solidify their understanding.
Finally, both microlearning and sports encourage continuous improvement. In sports, athletes strive to continuously improve their performance and reach new levels of excellence. Similarly, microlearning promotes lifelong learning and encourages individuals to constantly seek out new knowledge and skills.
Example: A basketball player may work on improving their ball handling skills throughout their career, while a learner may take additional microlearning courses to expand their knowledge in a particular area.
There are various formats and techniques that can be used in microlearning. Here are 10 examples you could consider to leverage a microlearning solution:
Real Companies, Real Solutions: Microlearning Inspiration for L&D Teams
Take your L&D strategy to the next level with these successful microlearning solution examples from top companies in the industry. Learn from the best and incorporate their methods into your own training programs.
Challenge: IBM needed to train its employees on complex software and systems quickly and efficiently.
Solution: They created a microlearning platform that broke down each software or system into smaller modules that could be easily learned and mastered in short bursts.
Why the Solution worked for IBM: IBM's employees were able to learn and apply new software and systems quickly and efficiently, leading to increased productivity and faster time-to-market for new products.
Industry: Food and Beverage
Challenge: McDonald's needed to provide consistent training to a large, decentralized workforce across the globe.
Solution: They implemented a microlearning program that provided bite-sized training modules accessible from any device.
Why the Solution worked for McDonald's: Employees could access training on-the-go, at their own pace, and in multiple languages, resulting in increased engagement and better knowledge retention.
Challenge: Cisco needed to train its sales team on a wide range of complex products and services.
Solution: They created a microlearning program that used interactive videos and quizzes to provide quick, engaging training on specific products and services.
Why the Solution worked for Cisco: The program allowed the sales team to quickly and easily learn about a product or service, resulting in better sales and customer satisfaction.
Challenge: GE Healthcare needed to train its sales team on complex medical equipment and procedures.
Solution: They created a mobile app that provided bite-sized training modules, accessible from anywhere, that focused on specific products and procedures.
Why the Solution worked for GE Healthcare: The app allowed the sales team to quickly learn about a product or procedure and demonstrate its features and benefits to customers, leading to increased sales and better customer relationships.
Challenge: Google needed to train its employees on a wide range of topics, from coding to management.
Solution: They created a microlearning platform that provided employees with personalized, on-demand learning opportunities.
Why the Solution worked for Google: Employees could access the training they needed, when they needed it, leading to increased knowledge and skill development and ultimately, better job performance.
How to create a Microlearning Course
As previously stated, microlearning is more focused on the delivery method than the content itself. However, the content should align with specific key concepts, such as single-outcome learning objectives and chunking, which we will discuss in this section. Additionally, your approach to designing microlearning will depend on how you intend to deliver it. Therefore, this guide will cover how to create microlearning courses or modules in six simple steps.
Step 1: Choose a Focused Topic
The first step in creating a microlearning solution is to research and choose a narrow topic. The more focused your topic, the easier it will be to create learner-focused, outcome-driven content. However, it's important not to rush into the topic selection process. To ensure a worthwhile return on investment for your microlearning solution, put yourself in your trainees' shoes to ensure that the subject matter aligns with their specific roles within your organization. By doing so, you can maximize the perceived value of the training and increase overall engagement.
Step 2: Understand Your Audience
When creating a microlearning solution, it's essential to consider your audience. Once you've chosen your topic, narrow down your audience based on which colleagues or team members will find the content most useful. Understanding your audience's specific needs and preferences can help you create a more effective and engaging microlearning solution.
Step 3: Identify a Singular Learning Outcome
Determining a singular learning outcome is a critical step in creating an effective microlearning solution. Learning outcomes define the specific skills that learners will acquire through your course. This step is second only to understanding your audience because learning outcomes should be driven by the learners' needs, not your own goals. Failing to correctly understand your audience may result in missing the mark when it comes to developing learning objectives.
Step 4: Develop and Chunk Your Content
Once you have identified your clear learning outcomes, it's time to create and organize your content for your microlearning solution. Brainstorm and flesh out your ideas to develop sufficient talking points. Then, organize these talking points into an outline for your microlearning course. To maximize the effectiveness of your microlearning solution, practice "chunking" your content. This involves dividing your content into sections, breaking each section down to its "atomic state" to ensure that it cannot be logically broken down any further. This approach helps to simplify complex topics and improve learner retention.
Step 5: Build Your Microlearning Solution
With the planning and content development process completed, it's time to start building your microlearning solution. You'll need authoring software to bring all the content together effectively. Fortunately, several tools allow you to create a microlearning solution without a single line of code, making it a straightforward and quick process. In just a matter of minutes, you can create a professional-looking microlearning solution that engages your learners and achieves your learning outcomes.
Step 6: Distribute Your Microlearning Solution via a Platform
Once your microlearning solution is complete, and you're happy with the final product, it's time to distribute it to your audience. Consider distributing a pilot version to a test audience to work out any kinks and unforeseen issues before launching it to a wider audience.
Many companies prefer to deliver microlearning training through a dedicated microlearning platform or learning management system (LMS) that provides numerous benefits. With a microlearning platform, you can automate the training process by uploading your microlearning solution to the platform, assigning it to your learners, and tracking their progress and results.
Microlearning platforms make it easy to deliver training to large audiences and provide learners with a flexible and engaging learning experience. Here are six of the most popular microlearning platforms available in the market:
TalentCards is a mobile-first microlearning platform that enables organizations to create bite-sized training content and deliver it to employees via mobile devices. With its user-friendly interface and engaging content, TalentCards is an excellent choice for companies looking to upskill their employees on-the-go. TalentCards offers features such as gamification, analytics, and integrations with other learning management systems.
G2 Review Rating: 4.7/5
Price: Starts at $49/month
EdApp is a free microlearning platform with an integrated authoring tool. It is loaded with features such as spaced repetition, gamification, rewards, and analytics. These features make learning fun and engaging, thereby improving knowledge retention. EdApp also enables mobile learning that brings benefits such as push notifications for lesson reminders, cloud distribution, and translation, plus the ability to deliver microlessons directly to learners’ pockets.
G2 Review Rating: 4.8/5
Price: $0.00 – $2.95/month
OttoLearn is an AI-powered microlearning platform that delivers personalized training content to employees based on their individual learning needs. The platform uses spaced repetition, gamification, and adaptive learning algorithms to deliver the right content at the right time to each employee. With OttoLearn, learners can earn badges, certificates, and rewards for completing training modules.
G2 Review Rating: 4.5/5
Price: Starts at $299/month
MobieTrain is a mobile microlearning platform that offers engaging and interactive training content for learners. The platform uses gamification, quizzes, and simulations to keep learners engaged and motivated. MobieTrain offers features such as real-time feedback, analytics, and integrations with other learning management systems.
G2 Review Rating: 4.7/5
Price: Starts at $399/month
Grovo is a microlearning platform that offers a vast library of ready-to-use microlearning content. It covers a range of topics such as leadership, compliance, and technology. The platform also provides a simple authoring tool to create custom content. Grovo is best suited for companies that require pre-built content for their training needs.
G2 Review Rating: 4.4/5
Price: Contact Grovo for pricing details.
Taps is a microlearning platform that enables you to create and deliver bite-sized learning modules quickly and easily. Its features include a simple authoring tool, mobile support, and analytics. Taps is best suited for companies that require a flexible and scalable learning platform.
G2 Review Rating: 4.9/5
Price: $0.00 – $99/month
Great job on making it to the end of this article! Your attention span has proved to be long enough (despite the common misconception about attention spans and goldfish memory!)
It's important to remember that while microlearning can be a valuable approach, it's not always the best option. Some types of learning require dedicated time and effort to truly stick.
If you want to maximize the effectiveness of microlearning, here are some helpful advantages of microlearning.
To ensure the success of any digital learning project, it's essential to focus on the goals and tailor the solutions to meet the needs of the audience.
If you're unsure about the best approach for your elearning project, feel free to download our instructional design guide or check out this useful blog on implementing crucial L&D strategies, which includes information about microlearning.