August 11, 2020

What is Microlearning?

Microlearning is a learning approach which involves delivering eLearning with bite-sized content in engaging formats to learners. It enables learners to get the information they need immediately. Each microlearning unit is short in duration, i.e., 2-10 mins and it covers a specific topic, concept or skill. Also, it focusses on a learning objective/outcome or solves a specific problem.

Microlearning is good for providing a high-level view of a subject but may not be suitable for any complex subject that requires in-depth study. Having said that, it can be used as a supplementary training resource. It’s also effective for corporate and commercial training.

Micro-assessments in the form of mini quizzes can be applied to help learners retain what they’ve learned and achieve the learning outcomes.

What Are the Benefits?

  1. Faster to deliver
    It’s quick to build microlearning resources to respond faster to changing business goals and new training demands.
  2. More affordable
    A microlearning course is also much cheaper to produce as it requires fewer resources.
  3. Flexible
    Like regular eLearning courses, microlearning courses can cover any subject but in a bite-sized way. Microlearning can provide a broad overview of a complex subject or deliver one concept/learning outcome in detail.
  4. Learners find it more engagingMicrolearning provides learners with a more engaging experience akin to checking your favourite social app on your smartphone. It makes learning more fun and less serious.
  5. It boosts knowledge retention
    According to research in neuroplasticity (the response our brains have to learning), when you study something repeatedly and revisit it when you are close to forgetting it, you retain it much better. Since microlearning units are small, self-contained and easy to be revisited, it helps with remembering information better.
  6. It gives learners more freedom
    With microlearning, learners can enjoy causal learning whenever they like and in short periods of time. Microlearning units can be downloaded easily due to their small size and viewed offline.

What Are The Limitations?

Microlearning is no better or worse than conventional eLearning. Nevertheless, there are limitations of microlearning.

  1. Not ideal for complex concepts
    Microlearning units are not necessarily the best fit for complex concepts as it will require more effort to produce them. The concept needs to be broken down into simple parts. Microlearning is more suitable for conveying a high-level view of a subject.
  1. Not suited for in-depth training
    In many cases such as in a business training, a short self-contained course is exactly what’s required. Microlearning might not be suitable for in-depth training. For example, you can use it to learn conversational Te Reo, but not to study Māori literature.

Best Practices

A microlearning course is easier to start creating and quicker to complete than a regular eLearning course. See below some of the best practices that can help you get it right:

  1. Check whether it’s right for your use case
    Microlearning may not be for you if you have a complex subject matter which requires in-depth study or in-person training. It might still be applied as a supplementary training approach.
  1. Skim the fat
    Write concise and focussed content that captures the essence of what you’re trying to teach via the microlearning unit – don’t just paste chunks of your regular eLearning content into it.
  1. Use multimedia to spice things up
    Make microlearning more interesting instead of using just text. To keep learners’ interest, add relevant multimedia assets such as videos, photos, illustrations, and animations. Select the multimedia that will add meaning to your subject and not just make it look pretty.
  1. Turn on gamification to boost engagement
    Gamification makes microlearning experience more engaging. Add a few elements to your courses, if your microlearning platform supports gamification.
  1. Use micro-assessments to assess progress
    Microlearning goes well with micro-assessment. Apply mini quizzes to ensure your learners are progressing with training goals.

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