ATD Blog

Are You Ready to Deliver Microlearning?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Microlearning is a hot topic in talent development, but it seems to be vaguely defined. Many in the field refer to microlearning as learning that occurs in bite-sized chunks. In Microlearning to Boost the Employee Experience (2017), Elise Greene Margol defines microlearning as “training delivered in small, short bursts.”

What these types of definitions lack are the actual time limits microlearning should fit. So while such existing definitions are useful, they are not particularly descriptive or practical for talent development professionals. To bring some clarity to this topic, the Association for Talent Development (ATD) surveyed 596 talent development professionals, finding that 38 percent currently use microlearning and another 41 percent plan to start within the next year. The results also indicated that microlearning should average about 10 minutes, with a maximum length of 13 minutes.

Microlearning: Delivering Bite-Sized Knowledge investigates the primary delivery methods organizations use for microlearning, as well as the effectiveness and top barriers of microlearning activities. Some key findings from the study include:

  • Most participants whose organizations do not currently use microlearning but plan to add it in the next year indicated their organizations plan to use self-paced e-learning, video, and visuals.  
  • Just over a third of participants whose organizations use microlearning indicated that a top barrier to effective learning is not holding learners accountable. 
  • Video and self-paced e-learning are the top two delivery methods for microlearning among current users. 
  • Participants reported that a top benefit of microlearning is that learners can access it when it’s convenient for them. 
  • Organizations that incorporate hands-on activities and simulations are more likely to see their microlearning efforts be highly or very highly effective. However, only slightly under half of organizations that use microlearning add hands-on activities or simulations. 
  • Organizations in many different industries use microlearning for a variety of purposes, including supplementing formal training and as a just-in-time learning tool.

Although the data from this study helps, many organizations are still grappling with how to deploy microlearning in their organizations. ATD Education’s Microlearning Certificate can help. In this practical program, you’ll dive into the MILE microlearning design model and the latest research to determine the best microlearning strategy for your organization’s business needs.


You’ll come out ready to design and develop a microlearning program that addresses the learning needs of employees across your entire organization, one that they will not only want to use, but also share with others. You’ll review case studies with an eye toward identifying design ideas that you can incorporate into your own programs. Additionally, this course will show you what to do once you have implemented microlearning—including how to measure for effectiveness and keep your program content current.

Learn more about the Microlearning Certificate here.

About the Author

ATD Research tracks trends, informs decisions, and connects research to performance. By providing comprehensive data and insightful analysis, ATD Research Reports help business leaders and workplace learning and performance professionals understand and more effectively respond to today's fast-paced workplace learning and development industry. Our research reports offer an empirical foundation for today's data-driven decision-makers, containing both quantitative and qualitative analysis about organizational learning, human capital management, training, and performance.

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