Microlearning has been steadily gaining popularity for the past five years. It’s a popular concept among learning designers and trainers. Of course, the question everyone is asking the most is ‘What is microlearning?’ So, here’s a piece of microlearning to answer your question:

What is microlearning?

Microlearning is quite simply learning in very small chunks. It could be as small as a single paragraph, takes only minutes to complete and is focused around a single learning outcome. Technically, any learning of limited duration and scope is microlearning. Take the following examples:

  • Short, instructional YouTube videos
  • Gamified teaching apps, such as DuoLingo
  • ‘Word of the day’ calendars
  • A furniture assembly manual

Were those the examples you were expecting? Probably not! That’s because in the world of learning designers, it usually means a short interactive learning module that only takes a few minutes to complete.

There, microlearning chunk complete! Here’s another one…

Why microlearning?

Humans are surprisingly bad at remembering what they’ve been taught. Ask them what they learned a week later, and chances are they can only give you a few sentences and everyone’s answer is different. Microlearning focuses on a few key takeaway skills and messages to ensure a higher and more consistent retention rate. 

That’s not all. Microlearning is also great because:

  • By focusing on learning outcomes as practical skills, microlearning is also more active and less theoretical than much online learning.
  • It’s less time consuming and can easily be accessed on demand, which is a significant benefit for the learner.
  • It leads to modular and easily updatable courses so that short elements can be replaced with new content when the content becomes outdated. With How Too, you can easily update your learning object and republish as many times as you need as your content changes.

In many cases, because those elements are discrete learning objects or blocks, they can also be rearranged, or taken out of their original context and slotted into a different learning project without losing their impact.

Another chunk done. Now for the last one…

How to apply microlearning

Microlearning forces you to make your learning sharp and punchy, which increases learner engagement and retention. That’s why it just keeps getting more popular.

Here's an example of microlearning: When we’re making learning objects with How Too, we often ‘chunk’ our content before we begin. Each chunk gets matched to a single learning outcome. A good microlearning practice can involve aligning each of these learning outcomes with a single screen or set of screens. There you go - an explanation

We might then group a few small chunks into a complex/non-linear template using topic branches, or we might separate larger chunks into a series of simple/linear templates. Threading small learning outcomes together can help the learner achieve a larger, multi-faceted skill.

Overall, microlearning is simply about breaking down your content into short, sharp chunks that are easy for learners to remember. Why not try applying microlearning to your next learning object in How Too?