4 Truths And 4 Myths About Microlearning

4 Truths And 4 Myths About Microlearning
Summary: Microlearning is one of the most popular and controversial training delivery methods. Bite-sized training might fit into any schedule, but does this mean it’s always the best choice for your needs? Time to set the record straight about what microlearning can and can’t do.

This Is Microlearning: Truth Or Myth?

Microlearning has established its place in the corporate training sector, but the opinions surrounding its effectiveness differ. Some hail microlearning, saying it can replace any training course and address any subject. Why bore employees with long courses when microlearning can achieve the same, or even better, results faster?

Others have equally strong feelings, but in the opposite direction, claiming that microlearning only brushes over the topic and gives fragmented pieces of information. It has no real educational value. Microlearning is a joke!

As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Like all training delivery methods, microlearning has benefits and drawbacks, use cases and no-gos. This article explores the most common truths and myths about microlearning. Read on to discover what microlearning can help you with and where its limitations lie.

It’s True: What Microlearning Can Help You With

Just because it’s small, it doesn’t mean you should look down on it. Microlearning is a powerful training tool that deserves to be taken seriously. Here’s what microlearning can help you with.

1. Microlearning Facilitates Knowledge Retention

It’s a scientifically proven fact that chunking information increases the capacity of our short-term memory. (That’s why we memorize telephone numbers by dividing them into groups of 3 or 4 digits.) Microlearning is largely based on content chunking, in the sense that each module focuses on one learning objective or skill at a time. Therefore, learners receive an amount of information their brains can easily retain.

Then, there are two more ways microlearning facilitates knowledge retention. One, microlearning content is short and highly targeted. Therefore, it doesn’t cause information overload unless, for some reason, learners decide to go through every course on the agenda. And two, because it’s simplified, straightforward, and blabber-free, microlearning content is also easy to grasp without much effort.

2. Microlearning Can Train Employees Faster

If the skill you want to develop can be sufficiently trained using microlearning resources, then microlearning can help you train employees faster.

It’s not just that microlearning courses are, by definition, short. Microlearning brings results faster than longer courses because it offers very targeted information and gets straight to the point. Think of it as that person who doesn’t waste any time beating around the bush or making unnecessary introductions.

Speed and effectiveness make microlearning the perfect choice for training that’s urgent but doesn’t need to go into too much depth. When you need to train seasonal retail employees, for example. Deploying a microlearning course, you can teach them product knowledge, register management, and even essential sales skills in a couple of weeks or less.

The challenge when developing a microlearning course as a replacement for a long-form one is managing to make it comprehensive. You have to treat a microlearning course like any other course and not throw a bunch of random videos to your employees.

To achieve better results, create a content plan and a clear learning path, use a variety of content, and save everything in one centralized repository. Investing in microlearning software will help you set up an effective microlearning course in no time.

3. Microlearning Can Be Used For On-Demand Training

The most common microlearning examples involve on-demand learning. Even the stronger microlearning opponents can’t deny that a bite-sized training repository is God sent at the moment of need.

Let’s say that a sales rep is on their way to meet a potential client, and as they play their sales pitch in their mind, they realize they have forgotten the different discount plans. Or imagine a nurse who is about to administer a new drug to a diabetes patient but is not quite sure about the potential side effects. If these employees have access to a microlearning library, they can quickly find the information they need and avoid appearing unprepared or make a dangerous mistake.

Both examples were about mobile employees. Why? To point out that microlearning resources can be best used as a moment-of-need tool when they’re mobile friendly. And if you want to do it 100% right, use a microlearning app. TalentCards, for example, is developed with the needs of mobile learners in mind. It offers features that allow you to create intuitive and engaging microlearning courses for big-time results!

4. Microlearning Reduces Training Costs

Bite-sized courses are more cost-effective because they can be produced a lot faster. A 5-minute video, for example, takes less time to be produced than a 20-minute video, even if the same amount of people are involved. Fewer hours worked mean fewer costs.

For the same reasons, microlearning courses are also a lot easier, quicker, and less expensive to update. And that’s just when comparing microlearning to eLearning courses. When compared to on-site training, the difference in development cost is even more noticeable.

That said, the lower development cost is not a good reason to build a microlearning course. Choose microlearning only if the training topic allows for it. Otherwise, employees won’t gain anything from training, and you will have wasted everybody’s time and company resources.

That’s A Myth: What Microlearning Can’t Help You With

Microlearning is not the answer to all your training-related problems. Let’s bust some common microlearning myths, and find out what microlearning can’t help you with.

1. Microlearning Drives Learner Engagement

One of the most common microlearning myths is that microlearning content is fun and engaging. But there’s quite a logical leap there. Microlearning content is short. This doesn’t automatically make it fun and engaging. (This myth probably started from the whole “the best perfumes come in small bottles” story, right?)

Just because something is small, doesn’t mean it’s cute or engaging. A 3-minute video still needs to get straight to the point, feature lovable or quirky characters, and use humor. An infographic needs to contain charts and eye-catching graphics, and not just a bulk of text.

The point is, you can’t get away with boring content just because it’s bite-sized. Learners might sit through a dull microlearning video once, but they won’t watch a whole series of them.

What microlearning actually helps with is the short attention span problem. Because microlearning resources are short, they usually manage to grab learners’ attention; hence, the myth that microlearning increases engagement.

2. Microlearning Is Perfect For All Types Of Training

Well, yes and no. You can certainly offer a whole course in a microlearning format if the topic is simple and doesn’t require much explanation. You can enhance your team’s soft skills with microlearning courses, for example. What’s more, microlearning resources are versatile enough to fit as complementary learning material in almost any course.

Some topics, however, require hands-on demonstration, a lot of guided practice, or they are just too complex to explain in a few short minutes. This is where microlearning is a no-go.

It’s perfectly fine to create an infographic outlining the steps to operate a new piece of machinery. But would you rely entirely on a series of infographics or microlearning videos to train your warehouse workers without showing them in person how to do it? We hope not.

Microlearning courses are not ideal for all employees either. New or inexperienced employees, for example, can not be adequately trained in short bursts. They need more detailed and extensive training to understand the context of your business and cultivate their skills to a satisfactory level.

3. Microlearning Facilitates Practical Application

Again, this one is not entirely a microlearning myth, but it is misleading.

Microlearning can be used to explain in consecutive, clearly defined steps even complex processes, like machine handling. And because it works in a “watch, learn, and apply” sort of way, you could say that it facilitates practical application by giving instructions that can be used on the spot.

But does microlearning help build and hone the skills necessary for manual or technical tasks? Can it hone, to an advanced level, complicated soft skills like negotiation? Not really.

Practical application can be facilitated with nothing other than practical application itself. On-the-job training, role-playing, and simulations are the most suitable methods to facilitate hands-on practice so that employees develop competencies they can apply on the job.

4. Building Microlearning Courses Is Cheap

Wait, didn’t you say that microlearning reduces training development costs? Yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s low cost. A comprehensive and engaging microlearning course still requires a considerable investment.

For instance, you need to create a variety of content, including quizzes, videos, infographics, or even podcasts and games. And just like you do when developing a training course on your own, you have to consult a Subject Matter Expert, an Instructional Designer, and invest in training software.

So, yes, microlearning helps cut down on training costs. But if you are looking for a zero-cost solution, perhaps you need to revisit your training strategy.


Now that you’ve learned what microlearning is and isn’t, you can make an informed decision about whether it suits your training needs or not. Whether you are a microlearning fan or not, though, you can’t deny that there’s always room for microlearning in corporate training. Not because it’s small—microlearning is perfect for turning complicated into simple and for Just-In-Time learning too. Who would say no to that?

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