1. Define microlearning

Microlearning is a bit of a buzzword these days, but the concept is really just ‘learning in very small chunks’. A chunk might only run for a single paragraph (like this one), take less than a minute to do and is usually focused around a single learning outcome.

So, to really appreciate the benefits of microlearning and how we might use it for our business, let’s dive right in and set a series of short, achievable goals.

By the end of this article, you should be able to:

  • Define microlearning (achieved!),
  • List examples of microlearning,
  • Use microlearning to align tasks to learning outcomes,
  • Explain some of the benefits of microlearning, and
  • Let us know about your next microlearning project.

2. List examples of microlearning

Examples of microlearning include:

  • Instructional YouTube videos
  • Gamified language apps, such as DuoLingo
  • ‘Word of the day’ calendars.
  • A furniture assembly manual

Basically, any learning of limited duration and scope is technically microlearning. However, when learning designers refer to microlearning, we usually mean a short interactive learning module that takes no longer than a few minutes to complete.


3. Use microlearning to align tasks to learning outcomes

More practically, microlearning often involves breaking a larger and more complex learning outcome into discrete learning objects, each of which aligns with a single learning outcome. Or viewed from the other direction, these small learning outcomes can be threaded together to help the learner achieve a larger, multifaceted skill.

For example, if you wanted to teach someone how to make a sandwich, you might start by breaking this down into small, achievable steps:

  • List the components required to make a sandwich (bread, fillings)
  • Assemble sandwich (bread, filling, bread)

In addition, you might add a few conceptual steps to contextualise your learner’s activity and help the learning ’stick’ .

  • Define ‘sandwich’
  • Explain the purpose or benefits of sandwich-making
  • List the components required to make a sandwich (bread, fillings)
  • Assemble sandwich (bread, filling, bread)

A good microlearning practice can involve aligning each of these learning outcomes with a single screen or set of screens.

So, a minute spent learning how to define ‘sandwich’, followed by a minute on how to explain the purpose of or benefits of sandwich-making (and so on) gives you a short but comprehensive training course that covers all the specific achievements of basic sandwich making for the learner.


4. Explain some of the benefits of microlearning

Humans retain comparatively little of what they learn. Microlearning can orient the learner around a few key takeaway skills and messages, to ensure a higher retention rate, particularly when used in conjunction with more formal learning. 

By focusing on learning outcomes as practical skills, microlearning is also more active and less theoretical than much online learning.

It’s less time consuming and can easily be accessed on demand, which is a significant benefit for the learner.

Because it’s so short and granular, microlearning is also modular and easily updatable, with short elements able to be substituted for other parts when the content becomes outdated.

In many cases, because those elements are discrete learning objects, they can also be rearranged, or taken out of their original context and slotted into a different learning project without losing their impact.


5. Let us know about your next microlearning project.

We’d love to hear from you, and we’re just a click away. Contact us to chat about your project and how we might help you develop a learning solution. 

In addition, we’ll be rolling out our own learning content development tool later this year, which will make it even easier for you to put together a learning program based around achievable learning outcomes.


Dave Bloustien is a Learning Designer at Savv-e