Microlearning is expanding fast in workplace learning as it is answering the needs of the modern, mobile, busy employee. It has become popular the same way that takeaway meals, pre-washed salads and assorted cut fruits have become part of our modern lifestyle.

Microlearning is fast and convenient as it is delivered in bite-sized content chunks. It appeals to the learner as it fits into a busy schedule and is available at the exact time learning is required. The learners control what and when they are learning. They are empowered, engaged and motivated to learn.

Scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of microlearning. Since Ebbinghaus and his pioneering experiential studies of the memory, we know that we tend to forget 80% of what we have learned within 30 days if there is no attempt to retain the new knowledge. Therefore, frequent short bursts of content are much more effective than one-off learning interventions or ‘binge’ learning. Active recall after a few days or spaced repetition of content nuggets ensures a dramatic increase in knowledge retention.

Organizations are embracing microlearning for two additional reasons:

  1. It is often simpler and cheaper to build, deploy and update microlearning content compared to a traditional eLearning course, thus improving ROI on training budgets. Maybe most importantly, less time spent in training translates into more productive time for the ‘real’ job.
  2. Microlearning supports a new learning culture of continuous development and improvement. This results in a more engaged and productive workforce inside an organization.

Microlearning can be used as a standalone approach or a supplement to traditional classroom training in a blended learning model. Mobile learning often leverages microlearning as it lends itself towards learning on smaller screen sizes. Peer-to-peer learning is often based on bite-sized content as information is tailored and shared in response to a specific question.

Microlearning is being tried and used in the areas of soft skills development, compliance training, product knowledge training, leadership development and general workplace training support. Educational technology providers are leveraging microlearning for a wide range of different use cases:

  • Dedicated microlearning platforms to give employees access to a library of bite-sized knowledge
  • Microlearning as a sales effectiveness solution to leverage spaced repetition in support of training of sales agents
  • Mobile-first platforms supporting the design and delivery of customized structured learning journeys, integrating online and offline learning experiences
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