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November 2018
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TD Magazine

Is Bite Size the Right Size?

Microlearning is shown to increase learner engagement and improve performance.

The topic of microlearning is a popular one among talent development professionals—and for good reason. Although microlearning is often vaguely defined, it is often considered learning that is delivered in bite-size chunks. An ATD Research study, Microlearning: Delivering Bite-Sized Knowledge, found that talent development professionals think the maximum amount of time for microlearning is 13 minutes, while the ideal length of a microlearning segment is 10 minutes. Further, participants reported that segments between two and five minutes were considered the most effective length for microlearning.

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Because microlearning is restricted to such short learning segments, learners are able to fit it into their day, even when they are on the go. In fact, ATD Research found that one of the top benefits associated with this type of learning is that learners could access it when it is convenient for them. Moreover, in a new Axonify study, researchers found that one of the key benefits of microlearning is that it drives high levels of employee engagement. Results also show that microlearning improves employee performance, confidence, and knowledge.

Are you getting started with microlearning and feeling overwhelmed? Microlearning offers some suggestions. First, start by identifying learning objectives. Sometimes, the learning objective you've identified may not be best suited for microlearning, but instead, it's a better fit for traditional instructor-led classroom learning.

Another piece of advice for talent development practitioners is to make learning only as long as needed. Focus on relaying only the necessary information and cut out the extraneous details. Conversely, don't try to force content into a microlearning piece if the content requires more time, detail, and explanation. Microlearning can be a useful tool in delivering content, but first make sure that other options aren't more suitable.

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About the Author

Megan Cole is a former ATD research analyst. Her primary responsibilities included creating and programming surveys, cleaning and analyzing data, and writing research reports for publication.

She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Florida and earned a doctorate in communication from Arizona State University. 

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Loved your perspective on micro-learning. The next question is what topics should companies focus their learning efforts on. Industry leaders like Southwest Airlines empower employees to think and act like owners, driving and participating in the profitable growth of the company. These Forbes and Harvard Business Review articles provide more background: https://hbr.org/2018/01/more-than-a-paycheck http://www.forbes.com/sites/fotschcase/2016/05/31/engage-your-employees-in-making-money/
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