Microlearning is a popular learning trend that targets a single learning objective and lasts anywhere from a few minutes down to a few seconds. This type of learning is usually designed in a series of high-quality, distilled experiences that are given to learners during a certain timeframe.
Microlearning experiences, or episodes, are relevant to distributed learning because they often exist in a variety of contexts that may not be found via a learning management system (LMS). For instance, episodes may be emailed, shared online, or embedded into a relevant software package.
In other words, this type of learning often takes advantage of a wider range of media than traditional training approaches, such as e-learning courses. Microlearning examples include:
watching a four-minute how-to video in place of a 40-minute e-learning course
reading a chapter each day instead of reading an entire book in one sitting
using a collection of screen captures to illustrate individual software functions rather than attending a one-day intensive course
emailing a question once per day instead of compiling them into a quiz
What are the advantages?
Compared to more traditional learning methods, this approach can be more efficient because it’s often spaced throughout a period of time. That means learners are more likely to remain focused and interested. Plus, learners are able to better retain information via repetition and regularly returning to topics.
Because content is distilled down to the essentials, learners spend less time training. And less time training means more time for working, resulting in significant cost implications across an organization—especially when a large percentage of learners have completed training.
Finally, these experiences can be easily repeated and referenced as needed. Specifically, learners can quickly locate the element(s) they need without having to dig through masses of irrelevant content in an expansive e-learning resource.
Are there challenges?
There’s a risk in distilling content to the point that important material is omitted. Furthermore, it may not be possible to divide a complex topic into parts that are small enough to be considered “micro.” Or, a topic may be broken into so many episodes that learners are overwhelmed. That’s why it’s important to have a strategy for how episodes will be discovered and/or delivered.
And what about xAPI?
Microlearning often involves a wide range of media, including digital video and mobile apps. xAPI can track learner interactions—such as pausing, playing, and rewinding videos—and content delivered via push notifications from mobile apps. But older e-learning specifications, such as SCORM, can’t track these kinds of experiences.
Up Next: Content Curation
We hope you’ve been enjoying our series on Distributed Learning. In our next post, we’ll explain the importance of curating your learning materials—especially as they continue to become available outside your organization. Don’t want to miss out?
Want to try give it a try?
Use this downloadable worksheet to design an effective custom microlearning series for your organization.