What is microlearning?

What is microlearning LinkedIn


What is microlearning?

Microlearning is small components of learning, whose purpose is to help behaviour changes or support performance. Microlearning is not about learning being a certain amount of time or a certain medium e.g. being under 10 minutes or video. Microlearning is about finding the timing and medium that is right for your learners. For instance, at work we are often constantly distracted, which means we need learning that is short. We also perceive visual information faster, which means infographics and videos work well as microlearning. Additionally, microlearning is a perfect fit for mobile learning, since the use of mobile phones keeps on growing

Maybe we should be talking about micro resources not microlearning

Our definition focuses on microlearning as having the dual potential of behavioural change and performance support. Behavioural change comes because learning is a process of practice, feedback, and reflection that leads to doing and working in a different way. The second half of our definition is that microlearning can be used for performance support. This is one of the most powerful ways microlearning can be used to provide just in time information that is easy to find, access, and consume while someone is working. Maybe what we should be talking about is micro resources, not microlearning. A resource is just a piece of information, it’s not a full learning experience. While we are working, we are actively involved in the process of doing the job task (as well as getting feedback and reflecting). Microlearning that is designed to be used in this just-in-time way doesn’t need to be a full learning experience, it can just be a resource. Checklists, flowcharts, videos, and infographics all make great micro resources.

What microlearning enables

Microlearning is not adaptive and personalised learning, it’s not spaced learning, and it’s not a learning campaign. It's the key enabler for these approaches. Microlearning means you can rapidly re-organise learning experiences. Think about a personalised adaptive learning experience that changes depending on an employee’s strength and weakness. The learning experience might start with a challenge assessment or self assessment. Then the system chooses a smaller series of chunks of learning (microlearning) that are exactly right for a learner. If all your learning is one hour e-Learning modules, it’s unlikely that each of the these e-Learning modules is just going to address a single topic and be suitable for this type of personalised learning. Microlearning gives you more flexibility in your designs.

Spaced learning is smaller chunks of learning that are delivered over time. It's often a strategy that is used to help with learning transfer. If the expectation is for someone to do a learning program every day, they are going to find it hard to spend an hour a day learning, but people are more easily and more likely to engage if it’s a 30 second video or short quiz instead. Microlearning and space learning are great match.

Microlearning is not always the best solution

There are times when microlearning isn't the best solution, When the learner is a trainee and getting started, learning is their job and so microlearning isn't useful. At this stage, people need larger chunks of learning and jumping between elements is a distraction. When a capability is complex and requires deep learning, then microlearning might not be as useful. This type of learning often needs more concentration than what microlearning allows, however microlearning could still be used in these types of programs, to help prepare learners or to follow up after the experience.

A microlearning example

engaging elearning  - a micro learning example

Do you want to see and experience microlearning in action?

At Sprout Labs we have put together a free microlearning course that focuses on one of the common reasons e-Learning is not engaging– it’s often a ‘resource’, not an active learning experience.

During the three day course, you will be sent a series of email messages that are a mixture of self-assessment resources and activities.

It's an example of microlearning and learning campaigns in action.