When to Choose Microlearning

One of the most important tasks that L&D professionals complete regularly is determining the best format for delivering training. Instructional design does not use a “one-size-fits-all” approach – it’s important to remember that different learning outcomes warrant different instructional strategies. When selecting what format is most conducive to learners’ training needs, L&D professionals are often mindful of their learners’ experience, learning goals, job requirements, and time constraints. Since most learners don’t have endless amounts of time to engage in training, microlearning may be a suitable format for delivering instruction. Knowing when to choose microlearning over other delivery methods can be tricky, which is why this blog post aims to provide an overview of its key benefits and what to consider before leveraging microlearning in your workplace training initiatives.

What is microlearning?

Microlearning is a method of instruction for delivering content in small segments that can be easily consumed by learners. These bite-size chunks of information can be presented in a variety of forms such as short videos, interactive quizzes, infographics, and job aids. When designing microlearning experiences, the primary goal is to provide learners with quick and targeted bursts of information that they can easily consume and retain.

Microlearning is intended to be short and sweet. A microlearning module can range anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Considering the brevity of microlearning modules, each module must focus on key concepts. Microlearning is ideal for covering one specific learning objective or topic.

Benefits of microlearning for workplace training

Many organizations choose microlearning because it allows for flexibility. Microlearning can be accessed from various devices such as smartphones, tablets, or computers. With the ability to deliver microlearning across a variety of devices, learners have the flexibility to choose when and where they engage with the content.

There are many other benefits to using microlearning for content delivery. The following are reasons why L&D professionals may choose microlearning as a viable option for workplace training.

  1. Just-in-Time Training. Microlearning is a great resource when learners need guidance on how to perform a task quickly. The brevity of microlearning modules helps learners on the fundamentals that they need to know so that they can minimize time away from their job responsibilities. Job aids and infographics are useful examples of just-in-time microlearning modules that can help employees troubleshoot tasks on the job.
  2. Product Knowledge. Microlearning is effective when employees need to learn specific features and functions of products and services their organization offers. This format is great for sales teams and customer service organizations to help them stay up to date with their organization’s services and offerings.
  3. Refresher Courses. Microlearning is useful to provide learners with opportunities to review concepts that they are already familiar with. Using microlearning as a means to deliver spaced repetition quizzes or “refresher” courses can help reinforce learners’ knowledge related to specific topics while valuing their time. This course format is ideal when you have employees who have previously participated in in-depth training related to the topic.

What to consider before choosing microlearning

When considering microlearning as an option for delivering instruction, it’s important to remember the following:

Avoid Information Overload. Microlearning is meant to be brief and should not overwhelm learners with too much information. Having a clear focus or objective can help with focusing on the key points that need to be included. If you find your course expanding quickly due to necessity, this is a good indicator that microlearning may not be the best choice for your training.

Communicate a Clear Focus. While it is important to have clear learning objectives for any training we design, it is particularly important to communicate a clear focus with your learning audience when you use microlearning. With the limited time associated with microlearning, it is helpful to ensure that employees understand exactly what the microlearning will and will not cover. Taking the time to communicate the objective of the microlearning experience can help learners stay on task.

Promote Intuitive Access and Navigation. When learners are unsure how and where to access learning, they can quickly become disengaged. If your organization is considering integrating microlearning into your workplace learning strategy, be consistent with your design. It is important to take into consideration how your learners will access content.

Don’t Avoid Interactivity. Just because microlearning is condensed, it does not mean it can’t be interactive. L&D professionals should avoid creating static content that doesn’t engage their learners. It’s okay to incorporate quizzes and simulations as long as they fit with the time constraints of microlearning.

As with any strategic decision for instructional design, ensuring alignment between instructional activities and evaluative outcomes should be a key consideration. Microlearning will likely be most effective when it aligns well with your organizations content, its learners’ needs, and the context of your organization’s instructional initiatives. I hope this blog helped provide useful suggestions for when microlearning may be an optimal format for your learning programs, and that the next time you need to determine whether microlearnings is a good fit, you’ll consider the above benefits and best practices for microlearning.