6 Microlearning Rules Every Online Training Developer Must Follow

6 Microlearning Rules Every Online Training Developer Must Follow
Summary: Rules are meant to be broken, but not these 6 microlearning design principles. Especially if you want to avoid cognitive overload and keep employees engaged.

Top Microlearning Rules Every Online Training Developer Must Follow

Microlearning is quick to consume and takes a microscopic approach to training challenges. It delivers JIT support when employees need it most and lets them take charge of the L&D experience. Better still, you can reduce seat time, eLearning expenses, and learner boredom. However, things don’t always go according to plan. Particularly, if you break the golden rules of bite-size training and let myths or misconceptions get in the way. Here are 6 microlearning rules that every online training developer must follow to achieve the desired results.

6 Rules That No Online Training Developer Should Break

1. Fast Doesn’t Mean Fragmented

Microlearning takes a fraction of the time. It’s designed primarily for moment of need training and immediate application. However, employees should never feel rushed or get the sense that information is fragmented. Every microlearning activity must finish a complete thought and serve as an individual learning unit. Albeit, a tiny unit that only covers a sub-topic or task. For this reason, it’s crucial to focus on a single objective so that you can include the essentials without going over the time limit. Break complex subject matter into separate activities if there’s too much L&D ground to cover. That way, every concept gets the attention it deserves and employees are able to see how everything is connected.

2. Always Include Recaps And Recommendations

There’s not enough time (or room in employees’ minds) for redundancies. Don’t spend the first 5 minutes summarizing concepts that they should already know. Instead, include a brief recap to clarify prerequisites and refresh their memory. For example, specify who the activity is for, why they need the info, and how it ties into previous courses/activities. You should also add recommendations they can use to broaden their knowledge and improve comprehension. Such as tutorials, simulations, and video demos that cover related skills or tasks. Don’t leave them with a cliffhanger wondering where they should go next in order to bridge gaps. Feedback is another microlearning must-have. Clarify where they went wrong and what they need to work on to improve performance. This can even be in the form of a quick checklist with embedded links.

3. Reuse To Reduce Costs

Microlearning usually costs less than traditional online training resources. It takes less time to develop and requires fewer assets (and team members).  Reusing content you already have takes cost-cutting to the next level. Invest in a rapid authoring tool to reuse assets and give them a modern makeover. For instance, add transitions, voiceovers, and triggers to your half-hour video tutorial. Then use the built-in video editor to break it into bite-size demos. That said, this doesn’t give online training developers free rein to cut corners for the sake of savings. Rule #1 still applies to repurposed content.

4. Understand Employees’ Backgrounds

You can’t develop microlearning content in a bubble, completely ignoring employees' needs in favor of training objectives as both are equally important. You must understand employees’ backgrounds, preferences, and goals to make it memorable For example, many online training designers make the mistake of training tunnel vision. They’re so focused on the outcome that they forget about learning behaviors and the limits of the human mind. We can only assimilate finite amounts of information before the ideas spill over. Conducting surveys and assessments allows you to define the training parameters and to get to know your audience. For example, this microlearning resource is intended for experienced customer service employees who already know the basics. Their knowledge base is solid and this activity needs to build upon it, instead of having them re-process the same information. Likewise, new hires may need to start at the beginning and work their way up.

5. Application Shrinks Seat Time

You might think that text-based resources are ideal for microlearning. However, the most efficient way is by giving employees the information they need to know in the most direct way.  Application is the key to understanding.  Also, it reduces seat time because employees are learning by doing instead of just reading about the task or how to use a skill in real life. Simulations, serious games, and branching scenarios can be condensed into bite-size formats. Make the scope smaller to improve retention and avoid overload. As an example, the microlearning scenario features 5 decision-making points instead of the usual 20. It highlights a specific policy or step rather than an entire process. Another way to facilitate application is storytelling. Develop micro examples, case studies, and stories that emphasize how employees can use information in real-world settings.

6. Templates Are A Microlearning Mainstay

Templates are your best friend, as they allow you to quickly update content and maintain the same design principles. Every microlearning resource in your library features different aesthetics but stays true to the brand message. There are placeholders to keep your design organized and ensure that text/graphical elements are balanced. Also, bear in mind that text isn’t the only cognitive overload culprit. Too many visuals can overwhelm employees and defeat the purpose of microlearning. Only include visuals that support the subject matter and give context. Avoid controversial graphics and cluttered layouts.


You might be an eLearning rebel, creating unconventional content that leaves a lasting impression. But these microlearning rules are set in stone. Employees must be able to see how the quick tutorials and demos tie into the training strategy instead of getting fragmented information. They also require recaps to refresh their memory and follow-up resources to supplement their know-how. Visuals should always serve a purpose and every tool must align with their experience level and job duties. Lastly, use real-world applications to emphasize the purpose and shorten seat time.

Communication, problem-solving, and leadership are just a few of the many skills that your employees must possess. Do you want to impart soft skill training in a bite-sized format? Read the article 8 Tips To Create A Microlearning Online Training Library For Soft Skills to discover insider tips to create a microlearning online training library that helps employees hone their soft skills.