Should You Incorporate Microlearning in Your Course Development?
Updated: Feb 3
As a business owner or director, you’re one of many looking for the holy grail of online training: An approach that helps you deliver the most effective employee training, in the simplest way, with the fastest results.
Lately, there’s been a buzz about a corporate course development method that promises the ease and outcomes you’ve been searching for: Microlearning.
But is it really the be-all, end-all solution to your course development needs?
Not always. While microlearning is a highly effective approach to learning and development, it’s important that you know when to use it—and when not to.
Let’s dive in.
What is Microlearning?
Microlearning, also known as ‘bite-sized learning’, refers to short training sessions that are focused on one or two specific topics. These sessions are typically five to ten minutes long maximum and provide the learner with four to five key takeaways.
While microlearning is most commonly used to help employees build upon their established skills and knowledge, it can also be used to break down a longer training module. Instead of giving trainees one longer training module, you provide them with several microlearning sessions spaced out over a period of time.
In these microlearning sessions, the content from the module is streamlined and focuses on one topic at a time to keep the user engaged and the content easy to digest.
6 Signs You Should Incorporate Microlearning in Your Course Development
Microlearning sounds great, but is it really the right addition to your employee training toolbox? If any of the following scenarios sound familiar to you, it’s likely time to start incorporating microlearning in your course development:
1. You Need to Make Training More Accessible
Sometimes, it’s not that employees are reluctant to train—they’d just prefer a different approach. Fifty-eight percent of employees would be more likely to use their company’s learning tools if the content was broken down into several shorter lessons. A great first step may be to survey your employees to determine if they prefer microlearning or long-form training.
2. Your Employees Want More Flexibility
If your employees are too busy to complete their training, microlearning could be the answer. Microlearning sessions can be completed much faster than traditional training, which means they’re easier to fit into everyday schedules. Sessions can be completed on a commute, during a lunch break, or during a slow workday. Since microlearning courses can be accessed on multiple devices—from desktop computers to laptops, tablets, or smartphones—your employees will be able to complete their training whenever and wherever works best for them.
3. Your Employees Need On-Demand Training
Microlearning is the perfect match for just-in-time learning, which is essentially on-demand training. The idea behind just-in-time learning is that employees can learn about a topic the moment they need to, like when you Google “how to fix a leaky faucet.” You may not have needed that information before, but having immediate access to a video tutorial can sure come in handy! For example, if your employee was tasked to sell a new-to-them company product or service, they could complete a microlearning course on that product or service and be able to immediately apply what they've learned to complete their next sale with ease.
4. You Need to Deliver Training Faster
Microlearning, especially on mobile platforms, can typically be produced faster than traditional training methods or even long-form modules and is more cost-effective. Plus, since the training itself is only ever a few minutes long, you don’t necessarily have to schedule a training session for the employee, disrupting their day and taking up more time than absolutely necessary. Most employees can only devote one percent of their workweek to personal development, which breaks down to approximately 24 minutes a week. You need to make every second count.
5. Your Employees Aren’t Retaining Their Training
German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, who established the often-referenced Forgetting Curve, determined that, on average, learners will forget 90% of what they’ve learned within one month. That’s a lot of training out the window. When you add microlearning into the mix, though, you can increase long-term learning retention by up to 80%. By creating microlearning courses that reiterate the same information in different formats (text, video, images), you’re helping your employees retain that knowledge for longer.
6. Your Workplace is Primarily Gen Z and Millennial
By 2030, the majority of the workforce will comprise Gen Z and Millennial workers. Are you ready to lead them? More specifically, are you ready to train them how they want to be trained? Younger generations prefer self-directed learning; they crave the autonomy that elearning can provide, which makes microlearning a great fit.
But that’s not all. They also want video content—and more of it. Almost half of Gen Z respondents in this survey said they spend more than three hours per day on YouTube. That’s a valuable insight into this generation’s preferred form of content and entertainment. By including videos in your microlearning courses, you can naturally engage and entertain your new workers in a way that's more exciting than traditional training.
What to Include in Your Microlearning Courses
While every microlearning course should be tailored to the employee’s learning style and training objectives, you should always include several different types of content to keep the employee engaged:
Videos Use video in your microlearning courses to visually demonstrate a task or a client/customer scenario. Video content is especially effective if you’re delivering how-to content or demonstrating a process or product. Every video within your microlearning course should be approximately 15 to 90 seconds long.
Audio Some people prefer listening to audio over reading or watching a video. Incorporate short audio clips like voiceovers, related podcast segments, or audio from a video to diversify your microlearning content.
Games Unsurprisingly, many workers are more than happy to play games at work. In fact, 89% of employees say playing games at work makes them more productive and 88% say it makes them happier. Incorporate easy-to-use gamification elements such as leaderboards, competitions, timed quizzes, or scenario-based games to further engage employees in their learning.
Quizzes Just like the learning material itself, microlearning quizzes are much more simplified compared to traditional training quizzes. After a trainee has completed a section of their microlearning course, they immediately receive a quiz or question on the topic. And right after they submit their answer, they receive feedback on their performance. AI integration is especially helpful in this scenario, as virtual coaches can step in to provide guidance and immediate correction.
Infographics Interactive infographics can help users easily understand any complex data that’s included in their learning materials. Many people are visual learners, so seeing percentages and statistics displayed as graphics or illustrations, instead of strictly numbers, can help them grasp the idea.
Minimal Text The goal of microlearning is to deliver direct, high-quality learning materials as quickly as possible. To achieve this, keep the written content of your courses succinct. Use it sparingly when videos, games, or audio elements aren’t suitable.
When You Shouldn’t Use Microlearning
Although microlearning works well for many training scenarios, it’s not always the best option. Here are a few examples of when microlearning isn’t the way to go:
1. When an Employee has no Established Knowledge
Microlearning is a fantastic way to build upon an employee’s established knowledge or skills, but it’s not ideal for those that are brand new to a process or industry. In these situations, you’ll want to start with a more comprehensive learning module where the employee can dive deeper into the learning material and gain a solid understanding of the subject, before building onto it with microlearning courses.
2. When the Topic is Complex
Ask yourself, can you effectively fit what the employee needs to know about a topic into a microlearning session? Yes, you can break down longer courses into micro-learning sessions, but if the topic is more involved or complex, it may be better suited to a long-form module.
3. As a Stand-Alone Training Strategy
Not all of your employee training and onboarding content should be delivered through microlearning courses. Remember, this approach is most effective when used in conjunction with longer modules, to help employees add to their established knowledge base, or to give them actionable, on-demand training that they can immediately use.
Ready to Achieve Your Big Learning and Development Goals?
Start small—in fact, start micro.
As a business owner or director, you need to provide your team with high-quality training, in the least amount of time, and with the fewest hassles. With Learning Studio as your partner in course creation, we can make it happen.
With our course creation system, we can help you transform your current training materials—be they PDFs, PowerPoints, or binders—into exciting microlearning courses and training modules that your employees will actually enjoy.