10 Reasons to Adopt Microlearning in Your Training

Jill W.

Workplace dynamics are changing and so too is the learner profile. According to PwC, the millennial workforce will represent 50% of the global workforce by 2020. Millennials are more overwhelmed, are less patient and traditional training methods don't resonate. Research also shows that today's workforce is only able to commit about 1% of their workday to training and development. If organizations want to attract, engage and retain current and future workers, they have to adapt.

What can we do to engage and motivate workers to learn as the workplace dynamic shift over the next decade? One solution is to adopt microlearning.

What is Microlearning?

Microlearning is a way of delivering content to learners in short and focused learning "nuggets". Content is focused on targeted pieces of information and learners spend no more than 3-5 minutes on a particular learning activity. It is an approach that can be used for formal and informal training to achieve higher employee engagement and performance. Microlearning is not a new phenomenon, rather its popularity has increased with advances in technologies. Technology today makes it easier to deliver learning materials using rich formats and on multiple devices.

Why do companies adopt microlearning-based training?

  • Training budgets are being cut. ELearning leaders are under pressure to develop cost-efficient courses, and maximize the ROI of training.
  • The rise of mobile learning. According to Ambient Insight, the global mobile learning market has registered an annual growth rate of 18.2% for the period 2012 to 2017 (Ambient Insight, 2013).
  • Time constraints. With less time dedicated to training and development, companies are looking for ways to maximize training opportunities.
  • New learner expectations. A Rapid Learning Institute study suggests that 94% of learners prefer modules less than 10 minutes in duration (particularly for soft-skill topics), and 65% said most eLearning modules contain too much information.
  • Reduced attention spans: The millennial workforce has a short attention span and traditional learning methods don't resonate with their preferences and expectations.

Advantages of Microlearning for Learners

1. Empowers learners

According to Richard Hamm, the most effective way to empower your learners is to allow them to select the content they need in the format that works best for their learning style. Often referred to as personalized microlearning, learners benefit because they can define their own learning path.

To engage learners in their training, they must also feel that they are in control of their learning experience. Microlearning achieves this because you can offer content that is accessible and available on demand.

2. Just-in-time

Whether you are using a mobile app, videos, whiteboard animations or interactive PDFs, microlearning allows your learners to take their training materials with them anywhere they go. With bite-sized courses that focus on a maximum of one or two objectives, learners can instantly access the course when they need it and immediately apply what they learn on the job.

3. Accessible learning

Learners want to be able to access information from all types of devices (computers, tablets and smart phones) at any time of the day. For example, at the end of their day if they are going to engage in any kind of learning, they want it to be quick, easy and relevant. Microlearning if designed effectively, addresses these needs.

4. Reinforce soft skills

Microlearning content focuses on teaching one skill or concept at a time. Short modules convey the information rapidly yet efficiently. Soft skills such as communication, working effectively in teams, leadership and writing are often acquired through informal learning. Short bite-sized videos on these topics are an excellent way to remind employees of the elements associated with these skills.

5. Results in higher learner completion rates

Learners are distracted several times a day. With microlearning, they can choose how they consume the content, when and what content they need.

Spaced repetition has also been proven to have a greater impact on learning. In other words, if you are a busy person and need to commit something to memory, you should space out the repetitions to improve retention. Microlearning effectively facilitates this process. It helps to increase retention and application of knowledge.

Advantages of Microlearning for Businesses

6. Cost-effective training

Considering that microlearning is shorter than traditional training, content can be created much quicker, therefore reducing development costs. You also avoid having to pay for instructors, travel expenses or for the utilities and classroom equipment of traditional workshop-based classes. Microlearning is accessible anywhere from any device.

7. Easy to update

Microlearning is much easier to update than traditional training manuals or online courses. If something needs to be updated, simply send out a quick video. Your workers get the information they need and you (or your training department) saves time.

8. Shorter development cycle

It generally takes 3-6 months to design and develop a highly interactive online course. When it comes to microlearning, less information is produced at a time. Take a one-hour online course for example, with microlearning you could break up that course into 3 or 4 mini modules. Each mini module can be rolled out at a different time.

If you are producing a short video, a quick animation or even a document that won't take your learners more than a couple of minutes to read, you ultimately are working with less content. Less content equals a shorter development cycle.

9. Wider application

Microlearning can be delivered to a large group of learners, or to specific individuals based on their learning needs. Administrators only have to assign the learning nuggets to learners or groups of learners and report on training performance.

10. Better performance

Microlearning enables learners to achieve their learning goals faster and transfer their new learned skills more effectively into the workplace. Regardless of how you deliver your microlearning content, remember that rewarding learners when they perform well is a great source of motivation. Plus, deploying a training solution that is results oriented and built toward efficiency will result in higher performances across your organization.


Not all training can be done through microlearning. However, it is an excellent tool that can support your formal and informal training programs. The next time you think about how to structure or deliver information to your workforce, you may want to consider microlearning.

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Jill W.

Jill is an Instructional Designer at BaseCorp Learning Systems with more than 10 years of experience researching, writing and designing effective learning materials. She is fascinated by the English language and enjoys the challenge of adapting her work for different audiences. After work, Jill continues to leverage her professional experience as she works toward the development of a training program for her cats. So far, success has not been apparent.