Microlearning is all about the small, and it appears that small is the next big thing.

Tiny bursts of elearning in video (or any other highly digestible media) is defined as microlearning, and it usually means that the short subject of the training can be learned in a very short period of time. It’s a completely different approach than long-form training or macrolearning.


Here are the defnining characteristics of microlearning:

  • It’s narrowly focused
  • It’s presented in small chunks
  • It’s designed to have a minimal time impact on the learner

All of the above make microlearning perfect for mobile. It’s also ideal for refresher training, and for training on the most important topics. Why would you use microlearning for your most important topics? Because you can keep these key topics front and center without infringing on your students’ time. You could hit them up every day with the same key topic if it’s mission critical.

Microlearning, when done well, can have the same enagagement and impact level as advertsing. Ads have a HUGE impact in a very short span of time. The car companies don’t need 12 hours of online learning to explain why you should buy their car. These types of messages are carefully crafted to make their point quickly and impactfully (a disclipline sorely lacking in the eLearning space).

Many have claimed that microlearning is the natural outcome of the millenial generation and their short attention spans. There’s some truth to that. But it’s also true that humans digest information in short “chunks” natively. It’s our natural way of understanding things. We actually can’t comprehend long form training as well as we can these microbursts.

In fact, microlearning has been used for ages for memorization: flash cards, cliff notes, mnemonic devices are all examples.

And all of the many one or two minute single-subject videos on YouTube. How to fix your faucet, etc. These are microlearning for the modern age.

Of course, in this busy day and age, attention spans are shorter. And that makes microlearning perfect for learning on your phone while you’re on the train to work in the morning. Or just getting started with your day—especially when you know it’s not going to take an hour of your time.

It’s not likely that microlearning will replace long-form training. In fact, just the opposite.

With its natural tendencies toward isolated chunks of learning, micro-learning is not so great at providing a framework, or the big picture of the training material, and be able to connect disparate elements of it into one coherent picture.

Microlearning is just another tool in the toolbox. It’s really ideal for refresher training and follow up training.

And it’s particularly good when it’s active, not passive. What I mean is, when the eLearning is sent to the student as opposed to the student having to go seek it out.

Passive microlearning is great for topics where the user is highly motivated to research and discover the information (the YouTube broken faucet example).

But what if you are trying to push information out to a set of learners. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to send it directly to their inbox or text them on their mobile phone?

In this new landscape, microlearning will be a wonderful new tool for modern eLearning, as it hits all the sweet spots:

– It’s short and therefore engaging
– It’s natural because it’s the way humans learn
– It’s mobile and can be done on-person anytime

Small is the next big thing!If you want to learn more about microlearning or ExpandShare’s microTuneUp microlearning tools, check them out at http://www.expandshare.com/microtuneup or check out our eBook on the subject.