What Is Microlearning: A Complete Guide For Beginners
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What Is Microlearning, What It Isn’t, And Why You Need It

Microlearning packs a big punch.

It’s the more engaging, less time-consuming, and cheaper-to-produce sibling of regular eLearning. While it’s not the best solution for every training need, it's a surprisingly effective one for corporate and commercial training.

By the end of this article, you’ll know what microlearning is, what its characteristics are, and how to use it in your training. Let’s start at the beginning.

Back To Basics: What Is Microlearning?

While there’s no official microlearning definition, all microlearning-based training shares one key characteristic: brevity. This could either be small learning units or short-term learning activities.

Microtraining delivers short bursts of content for learners to study at their convenience. Content can take many forms, from text to full-blown interactive multimedia, but should always be short.

Here are some microlearning content examples:

  • Text (phrases, short paragraphs)
  • Images (photos, illustrations)
  • Videos (of the short variety)
  • Audio (short snippets of speech or music)
  • Tests and Quizzes
  • Games (e.g. simple single-screen challenges)

At this point, it is important to mention that not all microlearning apps support every one of these content types. Check with your microlearning vendor to make sure your favorite formats are supported.

Even though bite-sized training has become more and more popular over the last two years, it has a long history, even before computers were a thing. But it really took off when it met the modern smartphone. So much so, that leading microlearning platforms feel like a mix of Twitter and Instagram, but educational.

In this era of busy schedules and short attention spans, microlearning is a near-perfect training model. And it can be used for all kinds of training. A few microlearning examples include employee onboarding, compliance training, and skills training.

What Are The Benefits Of Microlearning?

1. It’s Faster To Deliver

Fewer things to write means shorter course delivery times. With microlearning, you can build a course with dozens of units in an hour. This lets you respond faster to changing business goals and new training demands.

2. It’s More Affordable

A microlearning course is also much cheaper to produce. It requires fewer resources and needs fewer instructors. You don’t even need any special "microlearning tools" to create your content; a regular LMS content editor will do - though, of course, a specialized microlearning-based platform like TalentLMS will make the process much easier.

3. It’s Flexible

Microlearning courses can cover any subject that regular eLearning courses can; just in a bite-sized way. You can create courses that give a broad overview of a subject or even create ones for complex topics.

4. Learners Find It More Engaging

Microtraining is the most engaging training delivery method available. The microlearning experience is similar to checking your favorite social app on your smartphone, compared to the "serious study" feel of regular training.

5. It Boosts Knowledge Retention

According to microlearning research, when you study something repeatedly and revisit it when you are close to forgetting it, you retain it much better. Such repeated study fits nicely with microlearning units since they are small, self-contained, and easy to return to.

6. It Gives Learners More Freedom

Regular online training that uses text-heavy courses is not ideal for studying in short stints. Microlearning, on the other hand, lets your learners enjoy casual learning whenever they have some spare time. Plus, since microtraining courses are small, they’re also easy to download and take with you when offline.

What Are The Limitations Of Microlearning?

We can’t simply call microlearning better or worse than conventional eLearning. It all depends on the subject matter. But in general:

1. It’s Not Ideal For Complex Concepts

Microlearning units are great for delivering simple information but are not necessarily the best fit for complex concepts. It’s still possible but will require more effort. For example, you’ll need to break down the concept into simple parts. That said, a bite-sized course is a great way to give a high-level view of a subject.

2. It’s Not Suited For In-Depth Training

If you have a subject that requires in-depth study, microlearning might not be the best approach to take. For example, you can use it to learn conversational German, but not to study German literature. Still, in many cases, and especially in business training, a short self-contained course is exactly what’s needed.

Microlearning Best Practices

Compared to traditional courses, a microlearning course is easier to start creating and faster to complete. Of course, you still have to follow a few best practices to get it right:

1. Check Whether It’s Right For Your Use Case

If your subject matter is complex, requires in-depth study, or calls for in-person training, microlearning is probably not for you. That said, it might still be a good fit as a supplementary training method.

2. Skim The Fat

Don’t just paste chunks of your regular eLearning material into a microlearning unit and call it a day. Write short and focused content that captures the essence of what you’re trying to teach.

3. Use Multimedia To Spice Things Up

Text alone will bore your learners. Add relevant multimedia assets such as videos, photos, illustrations, and animations to keep their interest. Choose the multimedia carefully. It should add to your subject, not just make it look "pretty".

4. Turn On Gamification To Boost Engagement

If your microlearning platform supports gamification, add a few elements to your courses. Gamification, the not-so-secret engagement weapon of regular eLearning, is even more engaging if you combine it with a mobile-based microlearning experience.

5. Use Micro-Assessments To Assess Progress

Microlearning goes well with, you got it, micro-assessments. Use mini tests and short quizzes to make sure your learners are progressing with training goals.

Ready To Microlearn?

There you go! Now you know what microlearning is. But what better way to fully understand it than to test it yourself? Experience it, and get a feel of the big possibilities that training in the small offers.

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