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Microlearning: Why It Works and How You Can Use It

Published Mon Nov 26 2018


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Microlearning is best used to teach one small objective at a time. Microlearning instruction should focus on a single skill to be learned in no more than 5 minutes. Think about a learning completion time of 3 to 5 minutes focused on a single task. Microlearning can be as simple as opting to present learning objectives in a short video instead of explaining these objectives in text form. Some 70 percent of Millennials visited YouTube monthly, and they will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. Microlearning techniques such as instructional videos are an increasingly viable way to engage the up-and-coming generation in their professional development.

Get Right to the Point

If a task can’t be taught in short video demonstration, break it down into smaller chunks. Less is definitely more for today’s workforce. By taking a minimalist approach to training, learners can be satisfied with the small objective they’ve learned and return later to complete more small activities to build on their new and existing knowledge. Repeated short-term learning reinforces long-term formal learning.

Using a short video to teach at the moment the learner is ready—just-in-time learning—yields a better completion rate for learners. Videos should be available for learners when they want and on their device of choice. Mobile-friendly training is important; after all, there are more than 1.2 billion learners worldwide who have access to such devices as smartphones and tablets. And, with today’s technology, video can be produced cheaply, and easily fixed and updated.

Make It Fun

What’s the point of putting together a microlearning lesson if your audience finds it boring? Games can make it fun, but more importantly, they can ensure the lesson taught is learned. For example, allow a learner to rack up points on their way to understanding one small objective task. In that way, the learner can come back to the next task to learn with an imbued sense of confidence, and have fun while doing it! And, when learners have fun acquiring a new skill, so do the trainers.

How Best to Use Microlearning

Microlearning is best for the following training uses:

• Presenting small nuggets of information that focus on one skill or task to be learned.

• Limiting the presentation to no more than five minutes.

• Reinforcing formal, traditional long-form training.

• Making training available for a variety of devices, such as smartphones and tablets, for learning in informal settings and when it’s convenient.

• Providing instruction when and where employees need it most, such as learning a critical skill during an on-the-job task.

• Making sure the instructions can be updated and fixed when employee feedback dictates.

• Getting to the point and not wasting your learners’ time.

• Repeating long-term, informal learning (we forget 80 percent of what we learned in 30 days).

• For limited attention spans during shortened training sessions. According to a study, the average human attention span was 12 seconds in 2000; since then, the average attention span has dropped to 8 seconds.

• Taking advantage of a learner’s sense of accomplishment to return to the microlearning model for even more impact.

• Engaging learners with interactive features such as quizzes, games, infographics, and videos that track learning progress.

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